Antibiotics are a group of medicines that are used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Sometimes, antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent an infection from developing. This is known as prophylaxis and is especially common before surgery / procedures or in certain medical conditions.
Antibiotics work by killing the bacteria or stopping them from growing and multiplying. Different types of antibiotics are prescribed to treat different kinds of infection (this also depends on the type of bacteria). The duration of therapy is also dependent on the type and severity of the infection.
Antibiotics do not work against infections that are not caused by bacteria such as viral infections (e.g. in common colds or flu) and fungal infections.
Antibiotics may be taken by mouth as liquids, tablets or capsules or by injection. Those who require antibiotics by injection into the blood vein are usually admitted in the hospital because they have a more serious infection. Antibiotics are also available as eye and ear drops or as creams, ointments or lotions for topical application to the skin.
It is important to complete the course of antibiotic treatment as prescribed by the doctor and take the correct dose at the right time. Do not stop taking the antibiotic midway, even if you feel better. This is to prevent antibiotic resistance, which may lead to infections that are harder to treat in the future.
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