Antibiotics are drugs that are used to fight infections in the body and like any external drug or drug, they can generate side or adverse effects that must be known to treat quickly.
How are antibiotics classified?
The beginning of the use of antibiotics was marked by Alexander Fleming with the discovery of Penicillin.
Since then, a long way has come since then, with the emergence of a long list of antibiotics, sometimes in response to resistance acquired by bacteria and on the other hand, due to the advancement of microbiological and pharmacological knowledge, which have multiplied the availability of many antibiotics today.
In a very broad sense, antibiotic drugs refer to both antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral drugs, be it their action against bacteria, fungi or viruses, respectively. However, they are better known in their narrowest concept only as antibacterials.
In general, antibiotics are classified according to their chemical structure and mechanism of action.
Most common antibiotics
Several groups have been created and each group is made up of a variety of antibiotics that, despite sharing their mechanism of action, are distinguished among them by other characteristics, such as their absorption, time of action in the body, and many others.
· Penicillins (amoxicillin, ampicillin, piperacillin, tazobactam, oxacillin)
· Aminoglycosides (Gentamicin, Tobramycin, and Amikacin)
· Cephalosporins (Cephalexin, cefaclor, cefuroxime, ceftibuten, cefixime, ceftriaxone)
· Carbapenems (Meropenem, ertapenem, imipenem, faropenem, doripenem)
· Glycopeptides (Vancomycin, daptomycin, dalbavancin, oritavancin)
· Macrolides (Erythromycin, Azithromycin, Clarothromycin)
· Sulfonamides (Trimethoprine-sulfamethoxazole, sulfadiazine)
· Tetracyclines (Tetracyclines, doxycycline, minocycline, tigecycline)
· Quinolones (Ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, ofloxacin)
· Lincosinamides (Lincomycin, Clindamycin)
· Monobactam (Aztreonam)
· Nitroimidazoles (Metronidazole)
As you can see, it is a long list, where some names are also missing, but it shows us a clear idea of how extensive and complex the subject is.
Choosing an antibiotic by your doctor is a difficult and reasoned decision, and compliance with it is vital if you want a complete improvement of the infectious picture and avoid the appearance of bacterial resistance.
Bacterial resistance is nothing more than the unwanted loss of effectiveness of an antibiotic on a particular bacterium and that generally appears by self-medication or by inadequate or incomplete consumption of treatment.
This is a very bad consequence, since if the infection is not overcome, antibiotics with a better spectrum or more advanced must be chosen, which in addition to being more expensive, can have greater adverse effects.
Sometimes, the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics requires the combined use of 2 or 3 antibiotics simultaneously in order to control it, multiplying the side effects.
What is a side or adverse effect of a medicine?
Side or adverse effects are those unwanted effects, which appear during the consumption of the drug and which have no relation to its main beneficial effect for which they are designed.
Side effects can be caused by the group of antibiotics or by a particular antibiotic.
It is important to note that there are no tests or examinations that can be carried out prior to the consumption of the antibiotic that allow us to predict whether that person may suffer an adverse event. Therefore, once the antibiotic has been chosen and started, we must immediately consult any different or new symptoms that arise during treatment.
Side effects can appear at the beginning, at any time after starting or even after stopping treatment.
Types of side effects of antibiotics
Not all side effects occur with all types of antibiotics. Fortunately, the occurrence of serious adverse effects is less than 2%. Let's look at various adverse effects in more detail:
In hypersensitivity, it occurs as an allergic reaction, in which the body generally reacts abruptly to the antibiotic. There are several ways hypersensitivity presents itself:
· Fever: (mainly penicillins and sulfonamides, but other antibiotics can cause it).
· Skin rash (penicillins and sulfonamides. Less commonly quinolones)
· Severe anaphylactic or allergic reactions: warrant hospitalization and prolonged treatment. (penicillins and sulfonamides)
· Photosensitivity: very sensitive to the sun, with areas of exposure with intense redness. It can occur even up to a week after stopping the antibiotic (tetracyclines and some quinolones).
· Anemia: There are several types of anemia that can be caused by some antibiotics.
· Neutropenia: lower body defenses (PNC and sulfonamides)
· Bleeding: (Some quinolones)
· Headache: sulfonamides and macrolides can cause headache, which subsides when the drug is stopped.
· Seizures: These usually improve when the antibiotic is stopped. It occurs with some quinolones such as ciprofloxacin, in addition to imipenem.
· Ototoxicity: partial loss of hearing, which is related to aminoglycosides.
· The effects can be acute or chronic (pulmonary fibrosis with nitrofurantoin), but they are very rare.
· Arrhythmias: can be seen with macrolides and some quinolones. The effect is temporary while the antibiotic is used. But you have to avoid taking other medications at the same time, such as allergy drugs.
· Nausea and vomiting: like many other medications, some antibiotics can cause these symptoms, mainly tetracyclines and macrolides.
· Diarrhea: occurs due to the change of microbiota (intestinal flora). It is common with penicillins and cefaslosporins. There is a variety associated with tetracyclines that is produced by the proliferation of a bacterium called Clostridium difficile.
· Hepatitis: although many drugs can damage the liver, few antibiotics are related to hepatitis, which is the case with oxacillin.
· Jaundice: yellowing of the skin and eyes, which can be caused by ceftriazone or some quinolones.
· the aminoglycosides are what generate more renal toxicity: manifested with edema and fluid retention.
We must not forget the side effects of antibiotics, although they are rare and in most cases are temporary. It should always be the doctor who indicates the antibiotics and report any strange or new symptoms that are perceived during the treatment.
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