An antibiotic is a medicine used to treat an infection that is caused by certain bacteria. An antibiotic is anti-bacterial by nature. This will mean that the drug is able to kill the bacteria or to stop it from spreading and multiplying. An antibiotic has no effect against a viral infection such as influenza or the common cold.
Bacteria will cause most infections. Prescribing the use of an antibiotic is quite common these days, and the types of antibiotics that are used for an infection will largely depend on what type of a bacterial infection a person has. Healthy bodies have strong immune systems and are capable of fighting off a bacterial invasion. Sometimes, though, the immune system will be compromised and the body will be unable to fight the infection, in which case antibiotics may be prescribed to help the body to its job.
Bacteria are found everywhere. They will be in the human digestive system on the inside as well as the skin on the outside. Bacteria are actually critical for normal functioning of the body, but some types of bacteria cause illness. In a human, an antibiotic is sometimes used in treating health conditions that are caused by bacteria including food poisoning, skin and ear infections, meningitis, pneumonia and other severe illnesses.
An antibiotic belongs to a group of drugs called ‘antimicrobials’. This includes penicillin, amoxicillin, tetracycline and numerous others, which can inhibit or kill the bacteria’s growth without causing any considerable harm to a person. Antibiotics used to come from a natural compound, and penicillin is actually derived from mould. Many organisms such as fungi will produce a substance that destroys bacteria and prevents infection. Today though, most are synthetically produced.