Written by Dr. T. M. Wassenaar Tuesday, 06 January 2009 07:43
With our immune system we defend ourselves against a bacterial infection. Antibiotics can help us win the battle. When you report a bacterial infection to your physician, you are probably prescribed antibiotics. The term 'antibiotics' (literally 'against living things') is mainly used for substances that kill or prevent the growth of bacteria, as opposed to antiviral or antifungal substances. Antibiotics are not active against viral infections.Alexander Fleming; and his story proves that antibiotics are not a human invention but a discovery. Antibiotics are produced by microorganisms (often molds) which don't want to share their nutrients with competitors. See here how a penicillium mold inhibits the growth of Staphylococcus bacteria. Nowadays antibiotics can be produced chemically to make them stronger and safer. Certain antibiotics act against certain groups of bacteria. Thus your physician can prescribe you the right stuff to treat your sore throat without wiping out all bacteria in your body. After all, you don't want to get rid of your commensals. fun-tutorial about antibiotics and learn about some famous discoveries. If your scores weren't satisfactory, check out the basics here: Antibiotics attack.
Antibiotics have frequently received negative publicity. Some people believe they are bad chemicals that should be avoided at all costs. It is important to know that they are our best tool to treat bacterial infections that would severely harm your body when left untreated, and that in the era before antibiotics were applied, infectious diseases were a major cause of death. Nevertheless, the use and misuse of antibiotics has negative side effects. They can remain in the body for some time after application. This can also be the case in treated animals used for meat production. In the organic agriculture the use of antibiotics is therefore restricted or prohibited. The application of antibiotics as a growth promoter in animals raises questions: Is agriculture promoting antibiotic resistance?
Antibiotics are extremely important in medicine, but unfortunately bacteria can become resistant to them. A brief overview of what antibiotic resistance is. Antibiotics have probably been around nearly as long as microorganisms have, and nature has provided bacteria with means to overcome their action. Resistance to antibiotics can become problematic, for it makes these powerful medicines completely ineffective. How do bacteria become resistant? Some bacteria have learned to deal with practically all types of antibiotics we have available, and this can cause real problems in health institutions. Strict quarantine measures are needed to prevent the spread of such superbugs for we have little weapons left against them. For instance, Extremely resistant bacteria causing tuberculosis form a serious threat. A collection of (not so recent) news items on antibiotic resistance is provided here.
In search of an alternative, scientists have seen the light: maybe UV light can kill bacteria in food and medical products. We could also learn from Nature to find new weapons for the combat of bacteria. For instance to use viruses that kill bacteria. these are called 'bacteriophages' and are the natural enemies of bacteria. You can read more about phages in another display. In case you don't like the idea to fight bacteria with their own 'diseases', you probably like this 'new' invention even less: maggots are efficient cleaners of open wounds, eating away decayed flesh and preventing bacterial overgrowth, without doing further damage. Odd though it seems: maggots are useful in treating wounds infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Last Updated on Monday, 07 November 2011 15:55