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What Are Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are an important group of medicines that treat infections and diseases that occur because of bacteria. Antibiotics can be used in treating a broad range of illnesses and conditions. These drugs kill bacteria or stunt their growth and development. The antibiotic called penicillin was discovered in the 1920s, and made a huge difference in the medical field.

Other types of antibiotics include:

  • Tetracyclines
  • Aminoglycosides
  • Macrolides
  • Quinolones
  • Metronidazole and tinidazole
  • Cephalosporins
  • Clindamyclin

When Are Antibiotics Used?

Antibiotics work by killing bacteria, preventing vital processes in the bacteria. Antibiotics can be used in treating infections that are caused by germs—which include bacteria and some parasites. Examples of severe infections that can be treated with antibiotics include pneumonia and meningitis. Antibiotics can even be used in treating acne! Your doctor will be able to choose the right antibiotic for your condition.

Antibiotics cannot effectively treat illnesses that are not caused by bacteria. In other words, your doctor will not prescribe antibiotics for infections caused by viruses such as the cold or flu, or infections caused by fungi such as thrush, or fungal skin infections. Other names for antibiotics include antibacterials and antimicrobials. Ask your Fremont internist at Washington Township Medical Foundation if you have questions about the use of antibiotics.

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