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What Are Antibiotics?

Most people have taken antibiotics at one point in their lives. These are medicines that kill bacteria or stunt their ability to reproduce, thus enabling the body’s immune system to produce an effective form of “attack” before it is completely overcome by the “invaders.”

Since antibiotics were developed in the 20th century, these have saved millons of lives. In has provided a quick and readily-available cure to many conditions that were once life-threatening, or at the very least, life-crippling. For example, one of the first forms of antibiotics was penicillin, has helped to control sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea. Decades ago this condition would have meant hiding in shame for the rest of one’s life; today, all it means is one rather embarrassing visit to the doctor, and a prescription.

Unfortunately antibiotics are defenseless against colds, because antibiotics can only work against bacteria and not viruses. Using antibiotic against a cold will only kill the body’s “good” bacteria. It is far more effective to simply allow a cold to naturally get out of the system, and simply boost the immune system with vitamin C and lots of liquids to prevent dehydration.

Antibiotics do have side effects. For example, it kills the bacteria in the digestive tract which is crucial in controlling the fungus that is naturally found in the body. Once the fungus is out of control, it develops into yeast infections.

Antibiotics have also been used in non-medical products such as antibacterial handsoaps, which have led some people to worry about bacteria evolving into strains that are resistant to antibiotics.

Featured in Health