How do antibiotics work?

in StemSocial3 months ago

Greetings to the entire StemSocial community, I wish you all a good week ahead. Last week I managed to share content that for me has been rewarding to socialize with all of you, this week started for me with a lot of work, which I appreciate, but I would like to be able to discuss a topic that is of daily use in the fight against infections.

Especially Bacterial infections, since I bring you today a publication in which I will explain what we mean when we talk about bacteriostatic or bactericidal antibiotics, terms whose difference is given by the way they affect bacteria, to protect us or eliminate infections.

Continue reading, in a very practical and simple way I will share with everyone an interesting post, I hope it will be of your greatest benefit.



Pixabay/ Author: stevepb

To understand what these terms mean, whose origin depends on the function they have on bacteria, it is essential to have a notion of cellular structure, which I will explain below.

Bacteria are unicellular living organisms, which have a great diversity of forms, and with a very active metabolism, a great capacity for reproduction which is by binary fission, that is, a bacterium reproduces by generating another identity, reproduction is asexual.

It is important to know its structure, which is where antibiotics act to cause its elimination.

The structure is quite primitive, although organized. It has no cell nucleus but has the DNA dissolved in the cytoplasm. Its external part is represented by the cell wall, a strong protection of Peptidoglycan, from which some other parts such as velocities and flagella can emerge to facilitate its adhesion to different areas and also mobilize.



Diagram of a bacterium / Edited by me

I must emphasize, and it is an important point to understand why bacteria are affected by the action of antibiotics, is that their reproduction is very fast. It is estimated that between 20 and 30 minutes one bacterium has already become 2, so from one bacterium, in one hour we will have 4. And let us consider that it is not only one bacterium that colonizes a wound, but hundreds or thousands of them.

This Peptidoglycan are molecules that bind to other molecules by strong bonds, which gives them a high level of resistance to many antibiotics and protects them from the surrounding environment.

But, it is in general line its weakest point, because in spite of being a strong union it can be affected by some antibiotics, which are in charge of disuniting them, and it is there where the bacterium is affected.

As you can see in the image above, the structure of the cell wall is simple, but at the same time very resistant, it confers a great degree of tolerance to hostile conditions, but if this wall is somehow violated, it means bacterial destruction.



Diagram of a bacterial Reproduction / Edited by me

Bacteria have different classifications, depending on their forms, their tolerance and need for oxygen (aerobic or anaerobic), their GRAM coloration, which defines other characteristics, but it is a topic that I could address in a future post, for the sense of this post, understanding the above explained is enough.

Once the above is understood, let's move on to the specific topic of this post, How do antibiotics work?. We have two ways of acting of the different types of antibiotics, which confers a classification in two large groups according to their mechanism of action:

  • Bacteriostatic antibiotics: A compound word, which implies that it generates the inability of the bacteria to reproduce.

  • Bactericidal antibiotics: also a compound word, which refers to the elimination of bacteria.


Pixabay/ Author: qimono

Let us specify the way in which bacteriostatics act. I mentioned that bacteria have a high reproduction rate, this is crucial for their survival, since their life span is usually short (with exceptions).

If the bacteria's ability to reproduce is limited or neutralized, it means that they will reach the point where they will disappear at the end of their life cycle, and since they cannot reproduce, the infection will simply disappear with the disappearance of the bacteria.

In short, this type of antibiotic does not kill the bacteria but limits their reproduction, causing them to disappear due to this null reproduction, examples of this type of antibiotics are the following:

  • Clindamycin: widely used for vaginal infections, and in cases of abscesses.
  • Erythromycin: widely used for skin infections.
  • Trimetropin: used in some urinary tract infections, and in digestive tract infections.

These antibiotics decrease or completely limit the reproduction capacity of the bacteria.



Pixabay/ Author: WikiImages

In the case of bactericides, they act in a radical way, causing the death of the bacteria by different ways, the most common is that they affect the cell wall, specifically at the junction, causing it to break and allowing a large amount of water to enter the bacteria, resulting in the destruction of the bacteria.

Some also act directly on the cellular DNA, affecting it, resulting in the death of the bacteria.

Classic examples of this type of antibiotics are:

  • Bacitracin: widely used in creams for skin infections, and even in eye drops.
  • Cephalexin, cefadroxil, cefacelin: widely used for skin infections, and also urinary infections.
  • Ampicillin, amoxicillin, penicillin: used for respiratory infections and skin infections.

As you can see, these are some very common ones. Sometimes a combination of both types of antibiotics is also used.



Pixabay/ Author: WikiImages

So far this publication, hoping that you like it and that you have a better notion of the way in which these drugs act against bacteria.

I have tried to simplify as much as possible, the reality is that the processes that I have described in a general way have many microscopic details, which make them even more interesting.

From the point of view of the study of antibiotics it is very deep and wide what has to be considered before acting one, and they are factors not only related to the bacteria but to the person, to the patient himself, if he has or not base diseases, since for example there are antibiotics that even when they are the most indicated for a type of bacteria they are not for a person who has renal problems.

Thus I say goodbye, thank you very much for reading until the end.


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Antibiotics can be as dangerous as they can be helpful. They can whip out the gut and there is a connection to the mind. Trust me

Certainly, antibiotics can be very harmful in the digestive system, however, that is when risk-benefit should be evaluated.
If there is an infection that puts the kidneys or lungs at risk, there is simply no choice but to use them, despite the likely consequences at the digestive level.

Wow thanks a lot and nice figures that you made to explain it
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Thank you, I hope it helps to explain properly what I wanted and that it is understood.

True some antibiotics can be nephrotoxic. Thanks for sharing

Not all of them, but a part of them.

Really lovely details, I think it is important for us to know how these antibiotics we easily shove down our throat actually work after all, so thanks for sharing with us friend.

Thank you very much, it is a pleasure to be able to talk about these topics, to be able to share them.

Antibiotics are one of the most widely used drugs that almost everybody may have used at one point or the other. Even though many people who use them don't understand how the drugs work, but this post has been able to offer a very sound knowledge of the subject matter. Thanks so much for sharing.

Thanks for commenting, and yes, it is true, drugs are widely used medications, but not everyone reads to understand how they work, and when they do, they come up with very complicated terminology.

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A very interesting topic, I believe that bacteria are a type of cellular life which depending on its action we want to eliminate it from our body, that's why we have antibiotics.

With this reading I learned that depending on the antibiotics some act neutralizing the bacteria not to continue developing, while others enter the DNA of the cell killing it directly.

Keep up the great work my friend. Regards.

I think it has been quite clear what I tried to explain in the post, it is general knowledge, but I assume it is of interest to many, and explained in an easy way it is nice, at least I hope so. Thanks for the comment.

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