Antibiotics, commonly known as antibacterial, are medications that slow down or eventually destroy the growth of bacteria. Antibiotics include a range of potent drugs, and they are used to treat diseases primarily caused by bacteria. Antibiotics can’t treat viral infections like cough, cold, and flu. In this blog, let us discuss what antibiotics are, their mechanism of work, tiredness as a side effect of antibiotics, and which antibiotics are safe during pregnancy.
What are Antibiotics?
Antibiotics are medicines that fight certain infections. They can save lives when used correctly. Antibiotics destroy bacteria or stop them from reproducing.
Before bacteria can multiply and cause symptoms, the body’s immune system can kill them. WBCs or white blood cells attack harmful bacteria, and even if symptoms occur the body’s immune system can typically cope and fight the infection. However, sometimes the harmful bacteria are excessive in number, and the immune system can’t fight all of them. Antibiotics are helpful in this scenario.
Penicillin was the first antibiotic. Penicillin-based antibiotics, like penicillin G, amoxicillin, and ampicillin, are still available to treat various infections. Using antibiotics without seeing a doctor or over-the-counter antibiotics, Various types of oral antibiotics are available, which are usually only available with a prescription in most countries. It is not advisable to consume antibiotics without consulting the doctor. Topical antibiotics are available in over-the-counter ointments and creams.
Few over-the-counter topical antibiotics that may be used on the skin to help prevent infections from minor wounds, burns, and scrapes, are:
- Neosporin Plus (neomycin polymyxin/pramoxine) also contains pramoxine, a mild numbing medication,
- Polysporin and generics ( bacitracin/polymyxin), and
- Neosporin and generics (bacitracin/neomycin/polymyxin B).
OTC antibiotics, like benzoyl peroxide, are available for those with acne. Benzoyl Peroxide provides a drying effect and may be bought as brand names such as Proactiv, Oxy-10, and Clearskin.
Can antibiotics make you tired?
While taking prescription antibiotics, one can feel fatigued and tired. The tiredness can be a symptom of infection being treated by the antibiotic, or it could be a serious though rare side effect. Response to antibiotics varies by individual. Side effects like tiredness aren’t universal or uniform. Although it is rare, some of the antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin ( Proquin, Cipro), azithromycin ( Zmax, Z-Pak, and Zithromax), and amoxicillin ( Moxatag, Amoxil), can have side effects of weakness or tiredness.
It would be best if you discussed the potential for fatigue with the doctor when they prescribe antibiotics. You should also check the prescribing information to see if unusual weakness is listed as the possible side effect.
What if you miss a dose of antibiotics?
Antibiotics are generally taken between one and three times per day. Typically, your antibiotic doses should be equally spaced throughout the whole day. The doses must be taken at the same times every day. This helps in maintaining a constant level of medicine in the body. If you miss a single dose of antibiotics, there is probably no reason to worry because already your body has a reserve of antibiotics medicine from the previous dose. However, if you miss a couple of antibiotic doses or leave your antibiotic course without completing it, your body may develop antibiotic resistance, and the infection might not completely disappear.
In case you missed a dose of antibiotics, you should not double the next dose. Doing so would increase your chances of experiencing adverse side effects like vomiting, rashes, nausea, or diarrhea. You must take the missed dose as soon as you remember, or if it is about nearly time for the next dose of antibiotics, skip your missed dose altogether. Always refer to the PIL (patient information leaflet) that comes with your antibiotics, as it includes the manufacturer’s advice about what should be done if you missed a dose of your antibiotic medicine.
Which antibiotics are safe during pregnancy?
Antibiotics are often prescribed during pregnancy. However, you must choose the specific type of medication carefully. Some antibiotics are safe to take during pregnancy, while some others are not. Safety depends on different factors, like the type of antibiotic, how long and when in your pregnancy you take the antibiotic, the amount you are taking, and the possible side effects the antibiotic might have on your pregnancy.
Few antibiotics that are considered safe during pregnancy are:
- Clindamycin ( Cleocin, Clindagel, Celinda-Derm)
- Cephalosporins, including cephalexin ( Keflex) and cefaclor
- Penicillins, including ampicillin and amoxicillin ( Amoxil)
Certain other antibiotics are said to pose risks during pregnancy; for example, sulfonamides are usually avoided during the first trimester and near the delivery time because sulfonamides might pose a risk of jaundice, cleft lip, or palate, and heart conditions. Tetracyclines may affect bone development or discolor a developing fetus’s teeth. Tetracyclines must not be used after the fifth week of pregnancy.