by Anagha Dogiparthi
You may have heard the term “antibiotic” at least once in your lifetime, whether that be in a hospital, in school, or from a friend. Following that word may be several other ones including treatments or therapies. In this context, we will be exploring the 5-W’s concerning antibiotic treatment, as well as why it is so crucial to modern medicine.
The basic question here is: What are antibiotic treatments, and when should they be used? Antibiotic treatment is the loose term used to define the use of antibiotics, a drug that fights against bacteria, against bacterial infections. They are extremely specific and are often only prescribed for very serious cases in which the infection cannot heal on its own. An example of this would be using antibiotics for strep throat- this is perfectly acceptable, as strep throat is caused by bacteria, but using the same treatment for a sore throat wouldn’t be the best option.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/rbrwr/117311111- Antibiotic tablets used by patients in special circumstances.
Although the concept seems simple to us now, a lot of work went into the development of these treatments, as well as knowing what the appropriate times to use them are. The process began in the late 19th century when German physicist Paul Ehrlich proposed the possibility of creating a substance that can kill certain bacteria but leave the cells unharmed; according to Microbiology Society, his first breakthrough occurred in 1909 when he discovered that a chemical called arsphenamine was an effective treatment for the disease syphilis. This discovery is now known as the first use of antibiotics, although Ehrlich himself referred to it as chemotherapy.
Antibiotics, on the surface, seem like the perfect solution to impending health problems for most infections. However, some scientists fear that with increased misuse and reliance on the treatments, the bacteria may develop resistance. In simpler terms, this essentially means that bacteria that happen to escape antibiotic treatment can spread their resistant properties to other bacteria- if you’ve ever heard gossip spread in a school environment, you can connect the pieces as to what this concept is similar to. This typically happens with overuse of the specific bacteria, which begin to develop the ability to survive exposure to the treatments after repeated usage. Since this particular form of treatment is heavily used for so many infections, it's unclear whether another medication will be discovered. Because of this, scientists are highly suggesting following certain rules before prescribing antibiotics to ensure that it is only used when necessary.
https://www.antibioticresearch.org.uk/about-antibiotic-resistance/bacterial-infections/myths-about-antibiotic-resistance/ - Antibiotic resistance, or the ineffectiveness of antibiotics on certain bacteria, has become a specialized topic for scientists to explore.
One of these rules includes using antibiotics solely for infectious diseases, rather than viral ones. MayoClinic explains that using them for viral diseases will not cure the infection, won’t prevent contagiousness, won’t help you feel better, and may cause unprecedented side effects. This means that it will not provide any benefits for either party involved, and will merely promote resistance to medication that is so heavily relied on in the medical field. Using the treatment safely will allow hospitals, physicians, and scientists, to maintain its effectiveness, extend its lifespan, and prevent impending contagiousness.
Even acknowledging the upcoming rise of antibiotic resistance, it’s clear that further development of the widespread treatment could lead to fighting even more diseases. Regardless, it’s crucial to understand the words of scientists, who strongly recommend using antibiotics only when necessary. Remember, you’re changing the world one step at a time!
Willacy, D. H. (2020, May 27). Antibiotics: Infection treatment: Types, uses and side effects. Patient.info. Retrieved February 13, 2022, from https://patient.info/infections/antibiotics-leaflet
Mayo, C. (2020, February 15). Antibiotics: Are you misusing them? Mayo Clinic. Retrieved February 13, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/antibiotics/art-20045720#:~:text=Antibiotics%20treat%20bacterial%20infections%20but,which%20are%20caused%20by%20viruses
Society, M. (n.d.). The history of antibiotics. Microbiology Society. Retrieved February 13, 2022, from https://microbiologysociety.org/members-outreach-resources/outreach-resources/antibiotics-unearthed/antibiotics-and-antibiotic-resistance/the-history-of-antibiotics.html