There are many misconceptions and questions revolving antibiotics that warrant some further exploration. The other posts have clearly shown the historic misuse of antibiotics and its negative potential. The misuse in the meat industry as well as the medical industry has brought us to a delicate place where Superbugs are growing that affect everyone. So if antibiotics were made to help us where did they go wrong?
The first thing to understand is that antibiotics are not the magic cure for all types of illnesses. Antibiotics are made to work against bacteria but not viruses. Viruses and Bacteria are not the same thing and function in differing ways, for a deeper understanding of the differences form a medical expert look here.
So if I'm sick do antibiotics help? Yes and no, they can help you if you are dealing with a bacterial infection. Common bacterial infections are Tetanus, Typhoid Fever, Cholera, and many sexual transmitted infections. These are instances where it is appropriate to use antibiotics. Differing antibiotics were designed to combat these infections and as always your physician is the best available aid to such things.
What if I do not feel well and have left over antibiotics from another illness will these work? The complexity lies in the fact that each of the antibiotics is created to combat a specific bacteria. In this way one that is prescribed to combat the bacterium clostridium tetani or tetanus will not work for the bacterium mycobacteruim tuberculosis or tuberculosis. The best way to understand this is if you picture each drug prescribed as a key and the infection as the lock. To be efficient the key must match the lock. Since each drug is made for a specific infection then the keys or prescriptions are not interchangeable.
So what if I have an viral infection and not a bacterial infection? If it turns out that the source of the infection is viral and not bacterial than antibiotics can not help. Of the common viral infections like the common flu antibiotics cannot do anything. In this instance other means are needed to find wellness like rest and fluids.
From the continual misunderstanding of how to care for ourselves people often take antibiotics when they are not needed. This in turn helps to add to the larger problems of misuse of antibiotics in the meat industry as well as the medical field. For a very concise article from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) on this issue answering many more questions see here. This is a very concise source to help to clear up all of the misconceptions regarding antibiotics and when they are effective and when they are not.