Antibiotics and the Microbiome
Art & Research: Cassandra Yap
Further Reading Literature: Alyssa Sorensen
What to know about antibiotics
Germs in the body
We have 2 different types of germs in our body: viruses and bacteria.
Good bacteria helps absorb and make nutrients for our bodies (Healthline). They are found in places such as the gastrointestinal tract and urinary systems.
Bad bacteria is what causes us to get infections, resulting in symptoms like vomiting, coughs, or sore throats.
So, what happens when we take antibiotics? Typically, doctor will prescribe antibiotics when you have a bad bacterial infection. The antibiotic will work to kill bacteria, good and bad, to rid us of the infection.
No bacterial infection
However, what happens when we take antibiotics when we do not have a bacterial infection?
Killing good bacteria
For one thing, we would be killing off good bacteria in our body.
Opportunity for illness
More importantly, while the antibiotic may be targeting bad bacteria we did not know we had in our body, we also give bad bacteria the opportunity to learn the antibiotic, which could result in a more resistant bad bacteria (AtriumHealth).
Bad bacterial replication
Since bacteria replicate quickly, this could cause a whole army of stronger bad bacteria.
This makes it harder for us to get well when we have a bacterial infection because the bacteria can become resistant to even the strongest antibiotics (CDC). These diseases could even become impossible to treat. According to the CDC, every year, of 2.8 million people infected in the United States by antibiotic-resistant bacteria or fungi, 35,000 people die.
Seek help and be informed!
This is why, be sure to only be taking antibiotics when you have a bacterial infection and antivirals for viruses, like your common cold. Make sure to check with your doctor to see if you have either a viral or bacterial infection and the proper treatment for either.