Effects of Antibiotics in Humans

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Author: Jennifer Tanksley
Instructor: Dr. James E Ayers
Course Number: 102
Date: February 5, 2012

The advantages and disadvantages of Antibiotic usage in Humans

Since the discovery of antibiotics and their usefulness in therapeutic interventions, they

have risen to prominence owing to their ability to improve the quality of life through the

treatment and management of a wide array of diseases of bacterial aetiology. An

Antibiotic is a compound or substance that kills or slows down the growth of bacteria.

Antibiotics are powerful drugs for disease management making them fundamental

alternatives for the prolongation of the natural span of life. Antibiotics have unquestionably

saved more lives than any other drug ever discovered by man. However, it does not

necessarily imply that antibiotics do not possess the flip side. It has been demonstrated that

antibiotics indiscriminately wipe out both normal and abnormal gastrointestinal and vulvo-

vaginal flora. Human overuse as well as the widespread use of antibiotics has been

responsible for the co-resistance and cross resistance to multiple antibiotics. This paper is a

concise exposition of the effects of prolonged usage and the pro's and con's of antibiotics in


Currently, after decades of overuse in human medicine the threat of antibiotic

resistance has become a reality. Resistance in certain species of antibiotics has been

attributed to inadequate and inappropriate use of antibiotic drugs (Andersson 2005).

Through resistance genes strains of bacteria are becoming more and more resistant to drugs

in everyday usage. The transfer of antibiotic resistance from one bacterial species to another

is a real threat to the continued efficacy of antibiotics in the treatment and management of

diseases of bacterial aetiology. The inevitability of antibiotic resistance is driven by the

injudicious and indiscriminate prescription of antibiotics. The use of antibiotics in the

treatment of viral diseases in some parts of the world is widespread even though it has been

repeatedly proven that cold cannot be treated by antibiotics owing to its viral aetiology

(Want & Holmes 1999; Martinez 2008). The specific three classes of symptomatic effects

include; (1) Diarrhea, and (2). Upper gastrointestinal tract symptoms such as nausea,

abdominal pain, anorexia, dizziness and vomiting. Antibiotic resistance is emerging as a

serious public health problem. Antibiotic resistance is mainly causes by two major

categories of antibiotic misuse: widespread use of antibiotics in

livestock production and over prescription of antibiotic therapies in clinical medicine. Apart

from increasing the cost of medical and health care delivery, antibiotic resistance

increasingly threatens the lives of millions worldwide.

Therefore, human overuse of antibiotics in inappropriate treatments for instance

against diseases of viral aetiology, that are unresponsive to bacterial therapies is a sore

throat in medical practice. Long term inappropriate prescriptions of antibiotics in treating

respiratory infections and colds and other self limiting illnesses is to blame for the

dangerous effects on human medicine. In the United States alone, in excess of 97% of

physicians prescribe antibiotics in ear infections even though such infections do not require

antibiotic therapy. Apart from directly contributing to antibiotic resistance, inappropriate use

and overuse of antibiotics by humans is paving way for the emergence of new pathogens.

In addition to, antibiotic resistance is basically an evolutionary process based on

natural selection for certain species of organisms which enhances the ability of such

microorganisms to survive in a physiological environment effectively dosed with

antibiotics. The mode of action of several antibiotics is an exertion of selective pressure on...
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