Antibiotics are medicines that kill the bacteria that cause infections. There are nearly 150 antibiotics and each work in their own way to kill bacterias. These include tetracycline's, aminoglycosides, penicillin's, cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones, streptogramins, sulfonamides, and erythromycins. Some short-circuit the processes by which bacteria get energy, others disturb the structure of the bacterial cell wall, and still others interfere with the production of essential proteins.
To completely clear up infections and to help prevent antibiotic resistance, take antibiotics exactly as directed. Do not stop taking the medicine just because symptoms begin to improve. People who have certain medical conditions or who are taking certain other medicines may have problems if they take antibiotics.
The most common side effects with antibiotic drugs are diarrhea, feeling sick and being sick. Fungal infections of the mouth, digestive tract and vagina can also occur with antibiotics because sometimes they destroy the protective 'good' bacteria in the body (which help prevent overgrowth of any one organism), apart from the 'bad' ones, responsible for the infection.
Rare, but more serious side effects, include the formation of kidney stones with the sulfonamides, abnormal blood clotting with some of the cephalosporins, increased sensitivity to the sun with the tetracycline's, blood disorders with trimethoprim, and deafness with erythromycin and the aminoglycosides.
Sometimes, particularly in older people, antibiotic treatment can cause a type of colitis (inflamed bowel) leading to severe diarrhea. Penicillin's, cephalosporins and erythromycin can all cause this problem but it is most common with clindamycin, an antibiotic usually reserved for serious infections. If you develop diarrhea while taking an antibiotic, immediately contact your doctor.
Some people are allergic to antibiotics, particularly penicillin's, and can develop Side effects such as a rash, swelling of the face and tongue, and difficulty breathing when they take them. Always tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic; sometimes the reaction can be serious or even fatal. This is called an anaphylactic reaction.
Antibiotics may interact with other medications. For example, Biaxin (an antibiotic) should not be taken with Reglan (a digestive system drug). Antibiotics may interact with other medicines as well as with foods. When this happens, the effects of the antibiotic or the risk of side effects may be greater. Anyone who takes antibiotics should let the physician know all other medicines he or she is taking.