Health & Fitness

5 Common Antibiotics and Their Side Effects


Bacterial infections occur when bacteria enter the body or grow on the skin surface. Treatment for bacterial infection includes using antibiotics. Let’s discuss the 5 common antibiotics and their side effects.

Common classes of drug used to treat bacterial infections are penicillin antibiotics, quinolone antibiotics cephalosporin antibiotics, macrolide antibiotics, lincosamide antibiotics, sulfa antibiotics, polypeptide antibiotics, penem antibiotics, nitroimidazole antibiotics, glycopeptide antibiotics, and monobactam antibiotics.

Why do bacteria cause infection?

Bacteria are unicellular microorganisms and look like balls, rods, or spirals under a microscope. Their size is so small that a line of 1,000 could fit across a pencil eraser. Most types of bacteria may not make you sick. Many types are beneficial too. They help digest food, destroy disease-causing cells, and in making healthy foods like yogurt and cheese.

Some bacteria can be highly pathogenic, causing disease while managing to control over the human immune system. Other bacteria simply cause disease when provided the right circumstances, so-called opportunistic pathogens. These bacteria typically do not cause infections in healthy humans. But when the immune system is compromised, the risk of infection increases. These infections often come from your own bacterial flora like that on the skin or in the gut.

Bacteria may transmit directly or indirectly from animals to humans and cause infection, called zoonotic infections. Other bacteria like Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhea infect via sexual contacts.

Also read: What is the Cultivation method of Bacteria?

Antibiotics and their side effects

Antibiotics may cause serious side effects. More common side effects may include diarrhea and mild stomach upset. Get to know the 5 common antibiotics and their side effects.

1. Amoxicillin

Amoxicillin is a penicillin antibiotic that treats bacterial infection like tonsillitis, bronchitis, infections of the ear, nose, throat, skin, urinary tract, and pneumonia. You can use amoxicillin with another antibiotic called clarithromycin (Biaxin) to treat stomach ulcers.

Currently, there are many brands and forms of amoxicillin available. You have to make sure not to use this medication if you are allergic to penicillin antibiotics, such as ampicillin (Omnipen, Principen), dicloxacillin (Dycill, Dynapen), oxacillin (Bactocill), penicillin (Beepen-VK, Pen-V, Pfizerpen, V-Cillin K, Veetids), and others.

Also not use, if you are allergic to cephalosporins such as Omnicef, Cefzil, Ceftin, Keflex, and others. Tell your doctor before using amoxicillin if you have asthma, liver or kidney disease.

Also, amoxicillin can make the effects of birth control pills less functional. Amoxicillin cannot treat a viral infection like the common cold or flu.

Amoxicillin can cause diarrhea causing a new infection. Stop taking this medicine if you have diarrhea that is watery or bloody.

2. Azithromycin

Azithromycin fights against bacterial infections such as respiratory infections, ear infections, skin infections, eye infections, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Do not use this medicinal if you have ever had jaundice or liver problems. Do not take azithromycin if you are allergic to it or other similar drugs like clarithromycin, erythromycin, or telithromycin.

If you want to make sure it is safe for you, must tell your doctor if you have ever had liver disease, kidney disease, myasthenia gravis and heart rhythm disorder.

Azithromycin doesn’t cause harm to an unborn baby. Do not forget to tell your doctor if you are pregnant.

Azithromcyin and COVID-19

Azithromycin (Zithromax) is reported to be a macrolide antibiotic being investigated in clinical trials as a treatment for COVID-19. At the start of the COVID pandemic, It was often trialed together with hydroxychloroquine (not recommended for treatment of COVID-19 by the National Institutes of Health).

Azithromycin has antiviral effects and possess anti-inflammatory activity. In in vitro laboratory studies, azithromycin has also used for antiviral activity against Zika virus and against rhinoviruses, which cause the common cold.

Results of several clinical trials demonstrate that azithromycin did not treat patients’ health, when compared to the standard COVID-19 treatments. Treating hospitalized patients with the addition of using azithromycin was not any good than just using standard care alone.

Results showed that azithromycin did not provide benefits in terms of risk of hospitalization recovery. The NIH recommends azithromycin for non hospitalized COVID-19 patients unless there is another medical reason to prescribe an antibiotic.

3. Levofloxacin

It is a fluoroquinolone antibiotic to treat bacterial infections in the body. Levofloxacin also treats people with anthrax or certain types of plague.

This antibiotic may cause complicated  or disabling side effects. You must use this medicine only for infections not to treat with a safer antibiotic.

Levofloxacin can also be used for several other treatments. It may result in serious side effects like tendon problems, nerve damage, low blood sugar, and mood or behavior changes. Consult your doctor if you have symptoms of headache, irritability, numbness, burning pain, confusion, paranoia, problems with memory or concentration, agitation, or sudden pain in any of your joints, and suicidal thoughts.

In rare cases, it may cause harm to your aorta, leading to serious bleeding or death. Seek medical assistance if you have constant pain in your chest, stomach, or back.

Some other medications can make levofloxacin less effective if taken at the same time. Such medicines may include antacids that contain magnesium or aluminum, didanosine (Videx) powder or vitamin or mineral supplements that contain iron, magnesium, aluminum, or zinc.

4. Ciprofloxacin

Ciprofloxacin is also a fluoroquinolone antibiotic used for the treatment of different types of bacterial infections. This antibiotic may cause serious side effects that may not be reversible.

Ciprofloxacin can cause serious side effects, such as, tendon problems, low blood sugar level, nerve damage, serious mood, or behavior changes.

Do not use this medicine if you have a muscle disorder. Seek medical assistance if you have a history of myasthenia gravis.

Also, do not use ciprofloxacin if you are allergic to it or other fluoroquinolones such as, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, and norfloxacin.

Ciprofloxacin may result in swelling or tearing of a tendon, particularly in the Achilles’ tendon of the heel. Tell your doctor if you have ever had arthritis or problems with your tendons, bones or joints (specifically in children), diabetes, low blood sugar, nerve problems, an aneurysm or blood circulation problems, heart problems or a heart attack, and low levels of potassium in your blood.

Make sure not to give ciprofloxacin to a child without medical advice. Do not breastfeed while taking ciprofloxacin and use it exactly as prescribed by your doctor.

Also, you should take ciprofloxacin at the same time each day, with or without food and drink plenty of water while you are taking this medicine.

5. Doxycycline

Doxycycline is a tetracycline antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections, like acne, intestinal infections, urinary tract infections, eye infections, gonorrhea, chlamydia, periodontitis, and others.

This antibiotic can also treat blemishes and bumps caused by rosacea. But it will not improve facial redness caused by rosacea. Some forms of doxycycline can prevent malaria also.

Tell your doctor if you see signs of an allergic reaction like hives, difficult breathing, severe skin reaction, fever, sore throat,   burning in your eyes, red or purple skin rash that spreads and causes blistering and peeling.

Call your doctor if you have severe stomach pain, diarrhea that is watery or bloody, trouble swallowing, throat irritation, chest pain, and feeling short of breath.

Side effects of doxycycline may include nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, loss of appetite, mild diarrhea, darkened skin color, and vaginal itching or discharge.

In case, you are allergic to any tetracycline antibiotic, you must not take doxycycline. Taking doxycycline during pregnancy may affect bone development in the unborn baby. It can also affect birth control pills.

Doxycycline can cause permanent graying of the teeth in children. It’s better to use doxycycline only in cases of severe or life-threatening conditions.

Also read: Why Do Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Draw Our Attention?

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