Mankind invented antibiotics over nine decades ago what is considered to be one of the most significant discoveries in the world history. However, in recent years, antibacterial drugs are increasingly becoming the subject of debate. Some of the discussants adhere to the point of view that antibiotics are necessary medicines that help to resist diseases. Other experts are convinced that taking antibacterial drugs is dangerous, because they can cause serious disorders in the human body.
Dmitry Klyuyko, Candidate of Medical Sciences, Associate Professor, Colonel of the Medical Service, Head of the Department of Military Field Surgery of the Military Medical Faculty at the Belarusian State Medical University told about antibacterial drugs treatment.
What are antibiotics? What diseases are they used to treat?
Translated into Russian, the word “antibiotic” (lat. Anti “against” and Greek. Bios “life”) means “against life”. In fact, antibacterial drugs have been created to inhibit the reproduction and growth of microorganisms, which are pathogenic bacteria. Nowadays, antibacterial drugs defeat serious illnesses, many of which were previously considered incurable, such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gastrointestinal infections, postoperative complications and some others.
However, antibiotics are absolutely not effective in viral infections. For example, they will not help with influenza, URVI, hepatitis A, B and C. However, if the influenza leads to complications, including pneumonia, the doctor prescribes an antibacterial drug to treat a bacterial infection that has joined the viral disease.
The number of antibiotics in the world
Today, several thousand diverse natural and synthetic substances that are used as antibiotics are known. They are combined in 17 classes, and each of them acts on a certain type of pathogen. So penicillin - the first antibiotic discovered in 1928 by the British microbiologist Alexander Fleming, belongs to the class of beta-lactam antibiotics. Only a small part of the known antibacterial drugs is used - no more than 5%, since most of the previously discovered antibacterial drugs have become useless due to antibiotic resistance.
Ways to administer antibacterial drugs
There are intravenous, intramuscular and enteric methods of administering antibiotics. The dosage, the number of doses, and the bioavailability of antibacterial drugs depend on them accordingly. Each of these methods has its advantages. So, the drug that enters the body intravenously is the fastest to act, then - intramuscularly, most slowly - enterally.
Rules to follow when taking antibacterial drugs
Since any antibiotic is a toxic substance, the most important thing is to ensure that its use brings maximum benefit and minimum harm. For this, regardless of the type of antibacterial drugs prescribed, it is advisable to follow the following recommendations.
The first rule is that antibacterial drugs should be used strictly for their intended purpose and only for such diseases where they are really necessary. Even if this is a “cover” for possible complications, it should be adequate in accordance with all principles of rationality — a certain dosage, frequency of administration, etc. Otherwise, one should not expect anything good but harm to the body.
Antibacterial drugs are prescribed as a preventive measure to patients with reduced immunity, high fever, "bad" cough and similar symptoms, as well as to those patients who take treatment in a hospital with its own bacterial environment (nosocomial infection). If the patient is treated at home, applies rational anti-inflammatory therapy, which brings positive results, one should not "be covered" with antibiotics.
The second rule is that even if the condition improves immediately, the course of admission must be brought to its logical conclusion. For bacteria that are not completely suppressed form resistance to the antibiotic, and further treatment will be ineffective. The minimum duration of treatment with an antibacterial drug is seven days.
The third rule is that the prescribed dosage should be adequate. Sometimes, in order to avoid side effects, the fight against the disease begins with a small dosage of antibacterial drugs. As a result, it turns out to be ineffective, and soon the bacteria (or even the class to which it belongs) stop responding to the drug.
The fourth rule - antibiotics should be prescribed by status. That is, if the patient has a severe infection, he should take a potent antibacterial drug, and vice versa. In general, antibiotics are prescribed empirically - the doctor suggests that the infection will be affected by the prescribed drug.
The fifth rule is that antibiotics “do not work” when there is a site of infection in the body. Therefore, firstly it must be eliminated, and only then antibacterial drugs are prescribed.
The result of treatment will also be zero if the patient lacks protein, which is a carrier of antibiotic components. The only way in this case is to replenish protein reserves.
The sixth rule is that the same antibiotic can be produced in low and high dosages. So you should be careful and get it in doses strictly prescribed by your doctor.
Only with the correct admission and compliance with all the doctor's prescriptions, antibiotic treatment is effective. Antibacterial drugs must not be prescribed on one's own account, in order not to harm even more.
Resistance and the causes of its occurrence
Resistance is the opposition of microorganisms to antibiotics. The fact is that microorganisms have the ability to evolve. And sooner or later, as a result of mutations, they adapt to the action of one or another antibiotic, which becomes harmless to them. Medical experts are now worried by the fact that pathogenic bacteria adapt to antibiotics much faster than new drugs are invented.
Many doctors talk about the dangers of the massive use of antibiotics, because as a result of the rapid pace of bacteria development, there is a threat of resistant flora, which does not lend itself to the confrontation of modern antibacterial drugs. The first antibiotics (penicillin, biomycin) were of natural origin, they were obtained from molds. They had a narrow spectrum of action and did not harm the body, because its microflora was already adapted to the substances that they contain.
Antibiotics of the new generation are synthetic. With a wide spectrum of action, they kill almost all bacteria, including the beneficial intestinal microflora. At the same time, pathogenic microflora very quickly adapts to such drugs - almost 2–3 months later new strains resistant to these antibacterial agents appear. The natural microflora, which acts as an integral part of our immunity, is restored much more slowly. As a result, immunity drastically “falls”, and many dangerous pathogens can easily penetrate the body, as they say, with all the ensuing consequences.
The main responsibility lies with the patients. If a person took the antibiotic exactly as prescribed by the doctor until complete recovery, no pathogens would remain in his body. Unfortunately, patients often “drink” antibiotics without a doctor’s instructions, in insufficient concentrations, do not complete the course of treatment, so some pathogens survive after such therapy, and their carrier remains infectious to others, even if patient temporarily does not feel unwell. There is also a certain proportion of guilt among doctors who sometimes prescribe antibacterial drugs unnecessarily. As a result, it leads to an increase in the number of microorganisms that cannot be neutralized with simple antibiotics.
Minimizing the negative effects of antibiotics on the human body
Antibiotics are intended for aggressive intervention in the vital activity of microorganisms. The targeted accuracy of the drugs exposure on pathogenic bacteria has not yet been achieved, although scientists have been working on this for more than a year. Therefore, the use of antimicrobial agents is accompanied by side effects and can adversely affect the patient's health and well-being. In this regard, before using the medicine, it is mandatory to study the instructions. If there are diseases indicated in the list of contraindications, you should consult your doctor for advice.
You cannot take the drug on an empty stomach, so as not to increase irritation of the mucosa. Antibiotics must be taken with water. In this case, the use of alcohol, absorbent and blood-thinning drugs should be excluded.
To maintain normal intestinal microflora, it is recommended to take probiotics, drugs with lactobacilli, immunomodulators and vitamin complexes.
The use of antibiotics in our time is a kind of arms race, when a bacterium dictates its conditions, and medicine is forced to adapt to them and offer antibacterial drugs that meet these requirements. The consequences of the use of such drugs are global in nature when a particular antibiotic ceases to affect the population. And with each generation, antimicrobial drugs become more toxic. In turn, the bacteria "do not waste time" and adapt to a new enemy, showing even greater aggressiveness. The individual nature of the consequences of using antibiotics is that it has a negative effect on the functioning of internal organs. That is why in our country, as in the entire civilized world, most antibacterial drugs are sold in pharmacies only by prescription.
To avoid all kinds of diseases, it is necessary to strengthen immunity by adopting a healthy lifestyle, including proper nutrition, physical training, conditioning and much more. Antibiotics should be the last line of treatment.
Oksana Kurbeko, spokesperson – interviewer;
Dmitry Klyuyko, Head of the Department of Military Field Surgery – interviewee.
Translation: Anastasiya Karnacheva.