How Do Antibiotics Help Humans Fight with Their Diseases? Question (For CBSE, ICSE, IAS, NET, NRA 2022)

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What Are Antibiotics?

  • Antibiotics are medicines that are used to treat as well as prevent bacterial infections. It inhibits the growth and sometimes destroys the microorganisms that cause infections. Its use is encouraged because it is fairly harmless to human beings and animals.
  • It treats diseases caused by bacteria by inhibiting the synthesis of their cell walls and sometimes by interfering in the functioning of their DNA.

Antibiotics Definition

  • Antibiotics can be defined as a type of antimicrobial drug which is used for the treatment and prevention of bacterial infections by inhibiting the growth of the bacteria. They are not effective when used for diseases caused by viruses, for example, cold or flu.
  • Viruses are infectious agents which live in the cells of host that cannot survive on their own. It needs a host to produce its protein for it. So, by using this, we cannot cure viral diseases and it can even affect humans by interfering with their cells.

History of Antibiotics

  • Originally antibiotic was obtained naturally from microorganisms. Later, after the advancement in synthetic methods, the synthetic antibiotic was also developed. In the nineteenth century, Paul Ehrlich, a German bacteriologist started looking for a chemical that can kill the bacteria in humans or animals՚ bodies but does not adversely affect the health of humans or animals.
  • After various researches, he discovered the medicine arsphenamine, also known as salvarsan. It was used to treat the disease called syphilis which is caused by the bacteria spirochete. He got Nobel Prize for medicine in 1908 for his work on Immunity. Although salvarsan was having some side effects on humans, the impact of medicine on the bacteria was much more than that on humans.
  • In 1932, another drug called prontosil was discovered by a team of Researchers at Bayer Laboratories which was similar to the compound salvarsan which converts into sulphanilamide when it is taken into the body.
  • But the real transformation in antibacterial therapy took place with the discovery made by Alexander Fleming in 1929, of the natural antibiotic penicillin.

Who Discovered Antibiotics?

With the discovery of the natural antibiotic penicillin, Alexander Fleming is credited with the discovery of antibiotics.

How Do Antibiotics Work?

Even though there are plenty of different types of antibiotics, they work in basically two ways.

  • Certain antibiotics get rid of the bacteria by killing it, like penicillin. They generally disrupt the formation of the cell wall or cell contents of the bacteria.
  • The other kind of bacteria inhibits the multiplying action of the bacteria.

Types of Antibiotics

Antibiotics are basically classified based on their chemical structure. Antibiotics with the same structural class will showcase similar properties of effectiveness, toxicity, and allergy potential. They are:

  • Penicillin
  • Cephalosporin
  • Macrolides
  • Fluoroquinolones
  • Sulfonamides
  • Tetracyclines
  • Aminoglycosides

Based on how they work on stopping the infection of the bacteria, they can again be classified as:


They kill the bacteria present in the body which causes disease.

For e. g. :- Penicillin and polymyxin.


  • The medicines which are used to inhibit the growth of microbes are known as bacteriostatic. For e. g. : Tetracycline, Chloramphenicol.
  • On the basis of the range of action of antibiotics, they are divided as:
    • Broad spectrum: It can be classified as drugs that destroy or inhibit the growth of a wide range of gram positive and gram-negative bacteria. For e. g. : Amoxicillin
    • Narrow spectrum: These types of medicines mainly attack gram positive bacteria or gram-negative bacteria. For e. g. : Penicillin G
    • Limited spectrum: It is effective against a specific kind of organism or disease.

Side Effects of Antibiotics

  • Antibiotics are generally cross checked several times before permitting it for any clinical use. But still there are some of them, which have an adverse side effect on its use.
  • Side effects depend on the type of antibiotic used, the microbes which are targeted and it also varies from person to person. Generally, side effects are not that serious with some general side effects being nausea, soft stools (feces) and diarrhea.

Some of the side effects of antibiotics are:

  • Anorexia
  • Increased Appetite
  • EKG changes
  • Epistaxis (Nosebleed)
  • Gout
  • Hepatotoxicity
  • Hiccups
  • Hyperkalemia
  • Joint Pain (Arthralgia)
  • Kidney Stones (Nephrolithiasis)
  • Libido, Decreased
  • Libido, Increased
  • Myalgia (Muscle Pain)
  • Nasal Congestion


Which Pathogen Do Antibiotics Help to Kill?


  • Antibiotics do kill specific bacteria. Some viruses cause symptoms that resemble bacterial infections, and some bacteria can cause symptoms that resemble viral infections.
  • Your healthcare provider can determine what type of illness you have and recommend the proper type of treatment.

Why Antibiotics Cannot Kill Viruses?


  • Viruses don՚t have cell walls that can be attacked by antibiotics; instead, they are surrounded by a protective protein coat.
  • Unlike bacteria, which attack your body՚s cells from the outside, viruses actually move into, live in and make copies of themselves in your body՚s cells.

Which Diseases Are Cured by Antibiotics?


Common illnesses caused by bacteria are urinary tract infections, strep throat, and some pneumonia. Antibiotics can treat bacterial infections by killing the bacteria that causes them.

What is the Use of Antibiotics for Fighting a Disease?


  • Antibiotics are only needed for treating certain infections caused by bacteria. We rely on antibiotics to treat serious, life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia and sepsis, the body՚s extreme response to an infection.
  • Effective antibiotics are also needed for people who are at high risk for developing infections.

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