Anti – biotics are a large group of chemical substances produced by organisms and are toxic to some other organisoms. Anti biotics like penicillin or streptomycin produced by various micro – organisms and fungi, have the power to inhibit growth of, or to destroy bacteria and other micro – organisms, used chiefly in the treatment of infectious diseases. Actually, loris pasteur and jules – francois joubert had made the first demostration of anti – biodic effect in 1887, but the development of practical anti – biotic came later.
The earliest anti – biotic discovered is ‘penicillin’. It has saved millions of lives. It was by sheer accident that penicillin was discovered. in 1928. Alexander Fleming (1881 – 1955) a British scientist was engaged in growing cultures (artificial development) of germs for study. One day he found that a mould (a growth of minute fungi) has got into one of the cultures. He was surprised to find that the mould rendered the germs of the culture inactive. His observation led to the discovery of anti – biotics, an important medical discovery. The mould that had settled on fleming’s culture was penicillin, of genus ‘penicilium’, certain species of which are used in cheese making and as the source of penicillin. Penicillin is used against infections caused by gonococci, pneumococci, streptococci etc.
Another well known anti – biotic is streptomycin, which is inolated from the mould streptomyces griseus is used in treating tuberculosis. Neo mycin and gentamycin are used against skin infections. Auremycin is effective against fever and amoetic dysentry. Chloramphenicol (chloromycetin) is used in the treatment of typhoid and paratyphoid.
How anti – biotics work:-
Harmful bacteria need enzymes for growth, within the human bodies. Enzymes help building the rigid cell walls of the bacteria. Antibiotics rob the bacteria of enzyme. Deprived of enzyme, bacteria die.
Certain anti biotics are effective against many disease causing micro organisms. They are called broad spectrum antibiotics.
Antibiotics should be used under medical supervision only. They should not irrationally used. The reasons are
1. Prolonged / frequent use causes resistant strains of bacteria. The patient develops ‘drug resistance’ and the anti – biotic drugs become ineffective.
2. Wrong use may weaken the body’s immune system. For instance, self limiting non – bacterial disorders like cold should not be treated with anti – biotics.
3. Some patients fail to take anti – biotics for the prescribed period of time. If the prescribed course is for 5 days, they take it for 2 or 3 days and then discontinue. It is not the correct procedure
4. Antibiotics may cause allergies. Wrong use may cause severe illness. Pregnant and lactating women should avoid anti biotics.
5. Antibiotics that kill harmful bacteria, may also kill good bacteria.
So antibiotics can be harmful if not used properly and without proper medical supervision.