Antibiotics and how they work
Antibiotics are among the most important medicines available. They are strong and powerful drugs that are used to cure many bacterial illnesses and infections. Antibiotics work by killing or preventing the growth of specific sensitive bacteria. Antibiotics are only effective in the treatment of infections caused by bacteria such as pneumonia, skin infections, wound infections and other bacterial infections. They have no effect on infections caused by viruses such as the common cold, “flu”, laryngitis, bronchitis, most sore throats, and other viral infections. Your doctor can determine if you have a bacterial or viral infection.
While antibiotics can destroy most if not all of the sensitive bacteria, some resistant ones may survive and continue to grow. The ability of bacteria to “resist” the effects of certain antibiotics is called antibiotic resistance. Overuse and improper use of antibiotics lead to the increase in resistant bacteria – bacteria that are able to change, adapt, survive, multiply and fight the effects of some antibiotics. Over time these bacteria can pass on their ability to become resistant to more serious disease-causing bacteria. “Superbugs” are new strains of bacteria that are resistant to or that cannot be killed by most antibiotics that are available today. Increasing antibiotic resistance and the emergence of “superbugs” is a serious health issue that our society is facing today. This is why it is very important to take antibiotics properly and appropriately.
What can you do to prevent or discourage the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections?
- Discuss with your doctor whether an antibiotic is appropriate for you. Many infections are caused by viruses and not by bacteria. Antibiotics are not effective against viral infections.
- Always take your antibiotic exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Always take it in the right dose and on time. Continue to take your medication for the full number of days prescribed, even if you begin to feel better.
- Never save unused medication to treat yourself or others later
- Never take antibiotics that have not been prescribed for you.
- Always wash your hands thoroughly as required to prevent the spread of infection.
Pharmacia Canada supports and promotes the proper and appropriate use of antibiotics and is committed to the research and discovery of new antibiotic treatments to fight serious bacterial infections.