Contagious diseases are a result of microorganisms, which are resistant to the immune system, and attack our body. This is likely to occur under two circumstances - either our body has very little or no natural resistance to the infections, or the plaguing microorganisms may be in such a vast number that our immune system is unable to prevail over them. We may suffer from severe infections when there is some kind of immune system malfunction, or when any ailment makes the immune system weaker or devastates it. This is exactly the case when an individual has acquired immune deficiency syndrome, better known as AIDS.
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Infections may broadly be divided into two categories - generalized infections like the contagious diseases during childhood and the viruses similar to influenza; or infections that affect any particular body part, for instance, infected wounds. In addition, a number of our body parts are more vulnerable to being infected compared to others. For instance, while infections of the respiratory tract are comparatively widespread, bones and muscles are rarely infected.
The signs plus effects of infections are subject to the microorganism responsible for the infection as well as the affected body part. A number of them are caused by body tissue damage due to infections, while others are a result of the toxic substances released by these microorganisms. In several instances, the symptoms are a fall-out of the actions of the defense mechanism of our body itself. Nearly all infections caused by bacteria and viruses result in fever. In some cases, contagions are also likely to lead to inflammation as well as formation of pus in the body part that has been affected.
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Use of antibiotics is generally safe as well as useful in treating infections, which may vary from problems like conjunctivitis to severe conditions like meningitis, pneumonia and septicaemia. In effect, antibiotics have performed a very important function in expanding the scope of contemporary medical therapy.
Since the introduction of the first antibiotic penicillin in 1941, scientists have developed antibiotics belonging to many dissimilar classes. The chemical composition of each antibiotic is different and all are effective in dealing with a specific variety of bacteria. However, a number of antibiotics do possess a wide range of actions against an assortment of bacteria. But, most of them are only used to treat infections caused by one or two particular microbes.
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Antibiotics may be classified as bacteriostatic (directly killing microbes) or bactericidal (preventing bacteria from multiplying and facilitating the natural immunity of the body to prevail over the infections).
Antibiotics mainly have two major methods of action. While antibiotics like penicillin as well as cephalosporin wipe out bacteria by thwarting them from developing the typical cell walls, majority of the other types of antibiotics work within the bacteria, blocking their chemical activities that are necessary for their proliferation.
Use of antibiotics helps to bring the most widespread infections to an end within just a few days. Since antibiotics are not able to directly alleviate the symptoms associated with infections, it is very likely that your doctor will recommend additional medicines for you - for instance, analgesics to provide relief from pain as well as fever till the consequences of using antibiotics are effective. When you are using antibiotics, it is extremely essential to complete the regimen even if your symptoms appear to have faded and you start feeling better. If you stop taking the medications before time, it may cause the infection to reoccur and this time the microbes responsible for the infection will be resilient to antibiotics.
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Nearly all the antibiotics that are used at home do not result in unpleasant side effects, provided they are taken as per the prescribed dose. Nevertheless, they still may cause some common side effects, especially digestive problems like diarrhea and vomiting. Women using antibiotics may commonly develop yeast infections. In addition, a number of people may possibly be susceptible to use of specific category of antibiotics and they are likely to suffer from severe adverse side effects.
Majority of the antibiotics that are prescribed for people for use for brief periods at home are generally safe. While the use of antibiotics, especially penicillin and cephalosporin, may normally cause some type of eruptions on the skin or allergic reactions, they rarely cause any severe side effects. However, if you experience any serious adverse reaction following the use of antibiotics, you ought to discontinue the medication immediately and seek emergency medical help. Provided you have already experienced an allergic reaction to any particular antibiotic, you are most likely to have similar reactions when you use any other medication belonging to the same class. Therefore, it is advisable that you stay away from using all such medications. In addition, before using any antibiotic, or for that matter, any medication, for the first time, you should tell your physician if you are allergic to the drug or any of its constituents. Tell your physician if you had any allergic reaction following the use of any particular antibiotic medicament.
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Treatment with antibiotics also has further risks, particularly when one has been taking them for a prolonged period of time. Precisely speaking, prolonged use of antibiotics may possibly disturb the balance of microorganisms that live inside the body normally and also obliterate the bacteria that are responsible for containing the development of Candida - a type of yeast often present in little amounts inside our body. The destruction of these beneficial bacteria may cause Candida to develop excessively (a condition also referred to as thrush) inside the mouth, in the bowel as well as vagina. In case any person develops any of the above mentioned side effects of using antibiotics, he/ she may require being treated with anti-fungal medications.
Although rare, but further serious, use of antibiotics may disturb the usual activities of bacteria in the body - a condition known as pseudo membranous colitis, wherein a bacterium that is resilient to antibiotics proliferates within the bowel leading to a violent diarrhea with the stool containing raw blood. While this condition, which may even cause death, may happen following the use of any type of antibiotic, it usually occurs after using antibiotics belonging to lincosamides.
Antibiotics may be taken orally or also in the form of an injection. While the liver metabolizes antibiotics, the kidneys excrete them. Hence, similar to several other medications, antibiotics should also be recommended cautiously, especially for people who are enduring reduced functioning of the liver or kidneys.
A new epoch in chemotherapy started in 1935 with the use of prontosil as well as sulfanilamide (a product of prontosil's metabolic action, also called metabolite) for treating severe bacterial infections. Most people were aware that sulfanilamide as well as additional sulfa medications possessed antibacterial attributes, as their origin and development was chemical in nature. Penicillin and new agents that were developed afterward were obtained from plant sources, especially fungi and molds, were called antibiotics. With the passage of time, such distinction has lost much of its significance and currently sulfonamides as well as additional anti-bacterial medications are usually incorporated within the extensive class of medications called antibiotics.
Nearly all anti-bacterial medications help the body to get rid of bacteria by means of thwarting the development as well as propagation of the microorganisms. Usually, it takes many days to get rid of bacteria when you are using anti-bacterial medications. Therefore, it is likely that your physician will prescribe more medications for you with a view to provide relief from pain as well as fever. Use of sulfonamides has its downsides too, as it may result in nausea, loss of appetite, skin rash and drowsiness.
Similar to antibiotics, people who are susceptible may develop allergies from the use of majority of the anti-bacterial medications. Therefore, if you have fever or develop skin rash, bring it to the notice of your doctor right away. If you develop any such adverse side effects following use of anti-bacterial medications, it may necessitate a change in the drug. In fact, undergoing therapy with sulfonamides involves some risks - emergence of different types of skin rashes and additional allergies being the most common among them. A number of medications belonging to the group called sulfonamides may even result in the formation of crystals inside the kidneys. It is possible to lessen this risk by drinking plenty of fluids, including water, especially when one is undergoing treatment for an extended period of time.
Since sulfonamides are sometimes also likely to cause harm to the liver, usually they are not recommended for people having an impaired functioning of the liver. To some extent, these medications may also harm the bone marrow, diminishing white blood cell (leucocytes) production, while augmenting the risks of developing infections. Hence, physicians always make sure that they do not prescribe sulfonamides for an extended period of time. If long-term treatment with sulfonamides cannot be avoided, it is necessary to regularly monitor the functioning of the liver as well as the composition of blood.