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Have antibiotics won the battle against bacterial infection or are they creating more serious health problems for the future?

Antibiotics were first used in the 1940s and are considered as one of the great leaps of science. But, like every other scientific developments, antibiotics have their own pros and cons like the development of bacteria as a result of over-prescription, which does not respond to antibiotics that may have worked otherwise. Other negative effects to unnecessary intake cause adverse reactions such as diarrhea and an upset stomach(Tolley, 2008).

Antibiotics have been acting as an essential agent in saving lives since 1940s acting against infectious bacterial diseases.In the days antibiotics were considered harmless and many people would take them as a cure for a variety of illnesses as the variation of drug that were invented before the diseases could actually catch up. Nevertheless as it turned out, according to later researches that antibiotics were not that harmless after all, even though many people were able to take them safely, and they seem to deliver the desired results too(Fearn & Kliman, 2007).

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It would help to find out how the antibiotic in fact works. There are two major types of germs that namely 'bacteria' and 'viruses'. Although symptoms to many of bacterial and viral diseases are same but they act very differently in line of spreading the disease and affecting the hosts.Bacteria are single celled living organismswhile viruses are, are cannot exist on their own.They are genetically material wrapped in a protein coat and grow and reproduce only after they've entered into other living cells(Cannon, 2006). After penetrating a host they multiply and spread illness in their host. Antibiotics are effective against bacteria but they only rarely work against any viruses if any. Viruses mostly do not respond to antibiotics and usually run their courses.
The essay tries and puts the two contending arguments relating the antibiotics on the table and deduces for itself whether the antibiotics working the way they were supposed to be or is there an underlying threat to healthcare from its usage.

Recent developments have proven that the antibiotics that were once considered as harmless drugs are not so harmless after all. Antibiotics can only be tracked back as far as the 20th century, whereas, bacteria have been around for millions of years which has till yet no measurable record. Bacteria, apparently being evolving organisms, due to their ability to mutate and develop resistance against the environment, have survived for quite long. Thus they have the ability to develop a resistance against the antibiotic drugs as well.Only the thought of this evolution frightens a man, considering that the antibiotics have been around for just a mere 100 years and it would only be a matter of time when they become null and void against bacterial invasion unless new and advanced drugs antibiotics are developed continuously(Ramsay, Breedveld, Blackbourne, & Cohn, 2003). Moreover, taking antibiotics that one does not need runs the risk of developing bacteria that becomes resistant to antibiotics. So if that become a routine, a timely necessity of an antibiotic would render the drug ineffective.

In this regard a person who is a professional health care provider is the best person to determine which antibiotic is best for any treatment of infection or whether it is required in the first place. Viral illnesses like cold and flu should not be treated with antibiotics since these viral diseases complete their pre set course and any antibiotic would do more harm by culturing the bacteria by giving them an opportunity to evolve rather than taking out the infecting viruses. As mentioned earlier the antibiotics do not affect the viruses (Tolley, 2008). Despite the fact that most of the throat infections are caused by viruses and thusnot helped by antibiotics, their use regarding the matter is quite debatable(Swan, 2003).

Some facts that may need to be taken into account do support the argument. Fern And Kliman believes that antibiotics are safer than most drugs and are mild as compared to most drugs with minimum side effects. An example from their research suggests that the way antibiotics are prescribed for Lyme disease makes the possibility of antibiotic resistance very low. Also according to Fern and Kilmann, there is no medical evidencethat any antibiotics have any negative effect on the human immune system. Theysuggest that the antibiotic resistance is actually often caused by the inappropriate use of the antibiotics for nonbacterial infections and rarely by anything else. Supporting to what we already know that antibiotics do not harm viruses, they suggest that any bad reaction is can referred to as what many people experience to be Herxheimer reaction as almost 1% of the population is allergic to penicillin (Fearn & Kliman, 2007).

Nevertheless the debate against the antibiotics states the facts highlighting the characteristics of the antibiotics as drugs and how their affect can be rendered as ill or well. Seeing where most organisms can be identified by special techniques like culture, PCR etc, almost all of them are treatable through antibiotics. However, the natural process of evolution makes the bacteria resistant to antibiotics, especially because of the over usage and consequently we see that many resistant bacteria organism have formed colonies even in the most health care environments (Cello, 2011).

The extra ordinary ability of bacteria to evolve and the fact that their life cycle completes within a matter of minutes rather than years facilitate their evolution and making them resistant to current antibiotics. Thus in the case of survival of the fittest, bacteria seems to have the probability of  surviving Especially in an environment, not unlike a hospital where, bacteria may come in contact with many antibiotics, they may develop the resistance within their colony and give rise to what we have familiarized ourselves with as hospital acquired infections(Sleator, 2009).

According to Graham Ramsay and Paul Breedveld, use of allgeneralantibioticsinvolve a risk of increasing resistance among bacteria for the antibiotics, as we have observed earlier, and where appropriate and possible the use of antibiotics should be minimized(Ramsay, Breedveld, Blackbourne, & Cohn, 2003). A set of favorable alternativeswould include thorough exclusion of other treatable disorders, use ofindividualized symptomatic treatment, and the foundation ofan empathetic and trusting patient-physician relationship(Auwaerter, 2007).

The threat of bacteria becoming resistanthas been growing everywhere including communities and hospitals.  This problem can be resolved by accepting that we need to reduce the overuse of antibiotics. The most common mistake that is made is prescribing antibiotics to patients with viral infections. Also preference should be made for narrow spectrum antibiotics if possible, for short course of higher dosed antibiotic over a long course of lower dosed drug. Furthermore patients or infected people and staff should be kept in isolation and only experts with respectable knowledge such as doctors should control prescription of antibiotics in both hospitals and communities.Furthermore,Rahal(2006) discusses that a combination of antibiotics is much more effective in curing illness.

Resuming the debate we study that, according to Slots (2004), the characteristics of antibiotics arecrucial in determining their dosage their use and the frequency in which they should be used of administration. The factors that determine these things also include the body weight, metabolism rate etc so it even differs from person to person.Cannon (2006) extracts from his research that antibiotics may often tend to be very effectivein the short run as a cure for infections; however, in the long run they do induce damages also a well known theory known as super infection.

We can only conclude from this debate that where is enough literary evidence of antibiotics being harmless, some well structured facts can blow one, following this course of the argument, of one's course. Even though there has been much debate about the reactions and hospital acquired disease being caused only due to prescribing the wrong dosage or by taking antibiotics courses without expert supervision.It may very well be a fact, but only as much as the one that describes the resistance being developed by the bacteria against the antibiotics with the course of time.

It is without a doubt that the bacteria grows resistant to the antibiotics, and frightening as it may be for anyone to imagine the future with this progress, a need for newly developed antibiotics is suggested cure for the problem. Many companies spend millions dollars all over the world for research and development. But the problem remains to be that antibiotics, though cure the illness in the short run, are all the more damaging in the long run.


Auwaerter, P. G. (2007). Point: Antibiotic Therapy Is Not the Answer for Patients with Persisting Symptoms Attributable to Lyme Disease. IDSA.
Cannon, G. (2006). Super Bug: Nature's Revenge.
Cello, J. P. (2011). Antibiotics: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Fearn, D. W., & Kliman, H. L. (2007). Antibiotics: An Overview. Lyme Disease Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Inc.
Rahal, J. J. (2006). Novel Antibiotic Combinations against Infections with Almost Completely Resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter Species. Oxford Journals.
Ramsay, G., Breedveld, P., Blackbourne, L. H., & Cohn, S. M. (2003). Pro/con clinical debate: Antibiotics are important in the management of patients with pancreatitis with evidence of pancreatic necrosis. BioMed Central Ltd.
Sleator, R. D. (2009). When Goods Bug Fight Bad. Bioengineered Bugs.
Slots, D. J. (2004). Systemic Antibiotics in Periodontics. American Academy of Periodontology.
Swan, D. N. (2003, December 17). The Antibiotics Debate.
Tolley, J. (2008, February 27). Pros and Cons of Antibiotics.

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