How Beneficial Are Antibiotics for Infection?

Madeleine A.
Madeleine A.
Antibiotics can be administered intravenously.
Antibiotics can be administered intravenously.

Antibiotics for infection are effective if the infection is bacterial in nature. Viral infections do not respond to antibiotics and therefore, antibiotics are not considered effective treatments in managing viral infections. Antibiotics for infection can be administered orally, topically, or intravenously. Certain skin infections respond to over-the-counter antibiotic ointments, however, if the infection is severe, an oral antibiotic may be recommended. Types of infections that typically respond well to antibiotics include upper and lower respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, and ear infections.

Some skin infections can be treated using over-the-counter antibiotic ointments.
Some skin infections can be treated using over-the-counter antibiotic ointments.

Since viral infections do not respond to antibiotics, self-care methods of treatment are often necessary. These include resting, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating a healthy diet. Taking an over-the-counter pain and fever reducer also can help relieve muscle aches, fever, sore throat, and headache. A sore throat can either be caused a viral or bacterial infection, and to determine the cause, the health care provider frequently takes a swabbing of the throat. If the sore throat is found to be caused by strep or other bacteria, antibiotics will generally be prescribed.

Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial, not viral, infections.
Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial, not viral, infections.

When taking antibiotics for infection, people may experience side effects such as stomach pain, diarrhea, and nausea. Although taking antibiotics for infection is generally not problematic, gastrointestinal symptoms can be so troublesome that the person stops his treatment. Discontinuing the use of antibiotics for infection should not be considered unless discussed with the health care provider. If discontinuing treatment is deemed appropriate, the health care provider can then recommend an alternative treatment plan.

Strep throat is one common illness that requires antibiotic therapy.
Strep throat is one common illness that requires antibiotic therapy.

The most common types of antibiotics for infection include penicillins, fluoroquinolones, cephalosporins, macrolides, and sulfonamides. Tetracyclines and aminoglycosides are also commonly prescribed antibiotics for infection, however, each antibiotic is generally only effective against certain infections. If, for example, the individual has strep throat, the health care provider with select the antibiotic that most effectively treats the strep bacteria, as opposed to an antibiotic that treats the bacteria responsible for a urinary tract infection.

Oral antibiotics may be prescribed to treat a kidney infection.
Oral antibiotics may be prescribed to treat a kidney infection.

Allergic reactions can also occur when taking antibiotics for infection. Although most allergic reactions are mild, producing only minor skin reactions, some can be severe. These reactions include difficulty breathing, swelling or closing of the throat, wheezing, and fainting. Reactions such as these are considered medical emergencies and when they occur, the individual needs to seek treatment at the nearest hospital. When minor allergic reactions occur, discontinuation of the antibiotic and an antihistamine typically resolve symptoms in most people.

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    • Antibiotics can be administered intravenously.
      By: michaeljung
      Antibiotics can be administered intravenously.
    • Some skin infections can be treated using over-the-counter antibiotic ointments.
      By: Coprid
      Some skin infections can be treated using over-the-counter antibiotic ointments.
    • Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial, not viral, infections.
      By: brankatekic
      Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial, not viral, infections.
    • Strep throat is one common illness that requires antibiotic therapy.
      By: staras
      Strep throat is one common illness that requires antibiotic therapy.
    • Oral antibiotics may be prescribed to treat a kidney infection.
      By: Syda Productions
      Oral antibiotics may be prescribed to treat a kidney infection.
    • For middle ear infections, it's best to visit a doctor who will likely prescribe antibiotics.
      By: philippe Devanne
      For middle ear infections, it's best to visit a doctor who will likely prescribe antibiotics.