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How do Antibiotics Work?

Biology | 7-14 yrs | Learning Pod

What are Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are special medicines that are given to fight certain diseases caused by bacteria and parasites. In other words, antibiotics are actually chemical substances that have the ability to kill micro-organisms that are harmful to human beings.

Kinds of Antibiotics

Antibiotics are available in the form of liquids, tablets or capsules. They can also be administered by means of injections.

Some of the naturally occurring antibiotics include ginger, honey, olive oil and such.

Antibiotics are derived from

You would be surprised to know that these wonder drugs called antibiotics are derived from other bacteria and fungi molds, the significant difference being that these bacteria and molds are not the harmful ones, but the helpful ones! These micro-organisms release chemicals that work as weapons against the harmful micro-organisms. Today, we can also synthesize some antibiotics in laboratories.

How do Antibiotics work to fight Bacterial Infections?

We fall sick when disease-causing bacteria override our immune system and start reproducing inside our bodies. We can become healthy again if these bacteria are terminated. An antibiotic can be thought of as a selective poison that attacks only the disease-causing bacteria and does not cause any harm to the healthy cells of the body.

Antibiotics are designed to kill bacteria or parasites in different ways. Sometimes it is done by inhibiting a bacterium’s ability to turn glucose into energy while at other times, the antibiotics affect the bacterium’s ability to construct its cell wall. When this happens, the bacterium is not able to reproduce and it dies.

2 Interesting Facts about Antibiotics

  1. It is interesting to note that antibiotics only work against bacteria and some parasites. They do not work on viruses because viruses are not living life forms; they are just some pieces of DNA or RNA. So, in the case of a virus, there is nothing to ‘kill’. Bacteria, on the other hand, are alive and can reproduce. Some of the common infections like cold are caused by viruses, where the antibiotics are not of much help.
  2. Antibiotic Resistance : It is important for a patient to complete the entire course of antibiotics as directed by the doctor. Doctors generally prescribe a five-day or seven-day course of antibiotics which should not be broken at any cost. If the course is stopped in the middle, the bacteria are not completely killed. They become even more resistant to that antibiotic and the disease reappears.

Looking for more biology articles and videos? Go to: Biology for Kids.