We all know the names, penicillin, Z-pack, Amoxicillin, and Bactrim and we have been taking them for as long as we have been breathing, but do we really know what antibiotics are, how they work, and what they do to our bodies? Antibiotics, in a nutshell, kill bacteria, the bad ones and the good ones and if you have a viral infection no amount of antibiotic treatment will be any help and ultimately can be detrimental to your overall health. In this episode, Dr. Swain teaches Stacy all about antibiotics, how he prescribes the right one for a diagnosis, and why prescribing a patient an antibiotic (or not) is one of the hardest things he has to do every day. Plus, Dr. Swain explains common, and severe antibiotic side effects, allergies, resistance, and why there is not a one size fits all approach to prescribing these life-saving drugs.
What is an antibiotic, and how do they work? How many types of antibiotics are available? What is an antibiotic allergy and what are typical reactions? What are the common and severe side effects for antibiotics Why it’s beneficial not to take an antibiotic on an empty stomach? How does a doctor know which specific antibiotic to prescribe What are the three most common type of bacteria? Are doctors prescribing too many antibiotics and why is this dangerous? What is antibiotic resistance?
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Quotables & Tweetables?
I would name the show to antibiotic or not to antibiotic because that is the question that doctor's face all day long. - Dr. Swain
If I'm going to err, I'm going to err on giving this person an antibiotic because I don't want my patients to get sicker. - Dr. Swain
Viral illnesses will not respond to antibiotic treatment. - Dr. Swain
An antibiotic is a chemical that we use to kill bacteria. We use some antibiotics, they have different properties, obviously for killing different types of bacteria for different kinds of infections and some antibiotics actually have anti-inflammatory properties. - Dr. Swain
Sometimes we use antibiotics because they have a specific biochemical pathway that we use to decrease inflammation. - Dr. Swain
The easiest way to think about antibiotics is in terms of different categories. There are penicillin-based antibiotics. Then there are cephalosporin antibiotics, there are lots of those. And then there are fluoroquinolone antibiotics, and there are lots of those. And so we have antibiotics that are classified into what they do, and then in terms of those families. - Dr. Swain
The Food and Drug Administration is really vigilant about making sure that there's not an antibiotic that has side effects that need to be monitored or observed and they just need to make sure the drug is safe. - Dr. Swain
Sometimes people can get severe reactions where they even have their skin started peeling off or have trouble breathing or have the swelling of their throat or their mouth or their tongue. And so those are obviously the more severe reactions, but it can vary. - Dr. Swain
One of the common side effects of just taking antibiotics is to have your stomach upset sometimes, or you get a little bit of nauseated. That's just a side effect of taking the medication. - Dr. Swain
We tell people don't take an antibiotic on an empty stomach. You always want to take it with food to kind of buffer the GI side effects with it. - Dr. Swain
Basically, this chemical that you're taking goes and attacks the bacteria, and it does so in different ways. It can kill the bacteria. There are bacteriocidal antibiotics, where it kills the bacteria, and there are bacteriostatic antibiotics that kind of prevent the bacteria from growing. Depending on the situation, you would use a different kind of drug. - Dr. Swain
The three most common types of bacteria for those is usually strep pneumonia, Moraxella catarrhalis, and Haemophil