What Is Antibiotics?

Antibiotic: A drug used to treat infections caused by bacteria and other microorganisms. Originally, an antibiotic was a substance produced by one microorganism that selectively inhibits the growth of another. Synthetic antibiotics, usually chemically related to natural antibiotics, have since been produced that accomplish comparable tasks.

Unlike previous treatments for infections, which included poisons such as strychnine, antibiotics were labelled "magic bullets": drugs which targeted disease without harming the host. Antibiotics are not effective in viral, fungal and other nonbacterial infections, and individual antibiotics vary widely in their effectiveness on various types of bacteria. Some specific antibiotics target either gram-negative or gram-positive bacteria, and others are more wide-spectrum antibiotics. The effectiveness of individual antibiotics varies with the location of the infection and the ability of the antibiotic to reach this site. Oral antibiotics are the simplest approach when effective, with intravenous antibiotics reserved for more serious cases. Antibiotics may sometimes be administered topically, as with eyedrops or ointments.

The first antibiotic was penicillin. Such penicillin-related antibiotics as ampicillin, amoxicillin and benzylpenicilllin are widely used today to treat a variety of infections - these antibiotics have been around for a long time. There are several different types of modern antibiotics and they are only available with a doctor's prescription in industrialized countries.



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