Antibiotics are taken to treat a host of bacterial infections. From fevers to fungal infections, doctors prescribe antibiotics to deal with the symptoms. Usually, a single course of antibiotics must be taken for the cold or the flu to completely heal. Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections; they do not do anything for viral infections.
1. Antibiotics and Good Bacteria
Antibiotics kill bacteria. Antibiotics do not discriminate between good bacteria and their bad peers. Thus, they end up killing the good bacteria as well. The microbiomes in the gut are the good bacteria in your body that aid in digestion. Certain antibiotics can change the entire microbial diversity in the gut and this change can last for a year. Clindamycin, another antibiotic, can kill butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid produced by microbes. In the gut, the butyrate prevents carcinogenesis, inflammation and oxidative stress.
2. Resistance to Bacteria
Like every living organism, bacteria too evolve and adapt to the surroundings. They mutate and respond to the changes in the environment, thus leading to bacterial resistance. Some bacteria mutate and survive antibiotic treatments. These bacteria reproduce and the resistance strain gets passed on to the next generation which, in turn, makes the new bacteria desensitised to antibiotics.
When you get infected again-
i. The infection lasts longer, thus the disease may become serious
ii. There are more complications which tend to further increase every single time you are prescribed a new course of antibiotics
iii. If the infection lasts longer, then the chances of you infecting others also become higher
iv. Recovery takes longer
However, there are a few other things to be considered as well:
i. Taking antibiotics if you have a viral infection is not a smart thing to do. The antibiotics do nothing to kill the virus.
ii. However, if your bacterial infection has been plaguing you since a long time, doctors generally prescribe antibiotics every time. This is because, no matter what their downsides are, antibiotics do help you in recovering from various bacterial complications, at times, permanently.