Before you set everything up for writing a critical essay about antibiotics and their negative effects, you should make sure you know what you are talking about. Here are ten facts that will help you find your footing in this complicated topic.
1. Antibiotics Kill both Harmful and Useful Bacteria Indiscriminately
Surely, antibiotics have saved the lives of millions of people by eliminating the pathogenic bacteria that are the cause of vast majority of infectious diseases. However, we should remember that human intestines naturally contain around 100 trillion bacteria that are not only useful but essential for our well-being. Using and especially overusing antibiotics may throw the delicate balance out of whack, causing a wide range of syndromes ranging from annoying to fatal.
2. Drug Resistance
To put it simply, the more we use antibiotics, the more resistant bacteria grow. As a result, physicians are forced to prescribe either more potent and therefore toxic antibiotics, or larger doses of them. This both poisons the patient and makes the bacteria even more resistant to treatment. Today the world healthcare industry is growing more and more alarmed by the perspective of post-antibiotic world terrorized by “superbugs” – pathogens that are no longer treatable by antibiotics.
3. Fatal Diarrhea Cases in Children
In most cases, a common cold is caused by viruses, not bacteria, which means that antibiotics are useless against it while still causing side effects. Recent CDC studies show that children given antibiotics to treat upper respiratory infections are far more susceptible to C. difficile – bacteria causing severe diarrhea, dehydration and, in extreme cases, death. This infection is quite dangerous as it is, but especially lethal for little children, and antibiotics may give it a greenlight.
4. Increase in Drug and Hospital Costs
Let’s not forget about economic ramifications of the growing drug resistance in bacteria. As old antibiotics grow less efficient, a need arises in new, more potent drugs or alternative methods of treatment. These had to be researched, tested and put into production, which requires time and colossal amount of resources. As a result, treatment of a drug-resistant infection is not only more difficult, but longer and more expensive for the patient.
5. Powerful Side-Effects
Even relatively harmless penicillin carries a number of dangerous and potentially lethal side-effects, the most important of which was severe allergic reaction that happens from 1 to 4 occasions per 10,000 administrations. More modern antibiotics can cause the same and much more. Macrolide antibiotics such as Azithromycin may cause arrhythmia and cardiac arrest, the same goes for quinolone antibiotics such as extremely popular Levaquin. Chloramphenicol sometimes causes severe aplastic anaemia, and it is just a drop in the ocean.
6. Antibiotics May Cause Weight Gain
It is common knowledge that antibiotics promote weight gain in livestock, which is why food producers generally include them into the diets of their animals. Somehow, most people fail to extrapolate that they should have a similar effect on humans – and some recent studies indicate that it is really so. Children who were prescribed antibiotics seven or more times between the ages of 3 and 15 on average weigh about 3 pounds more than those who didn’t receive antibiotics. It is not clear why this happens; probably because antibiotics wipe out healthy bacteria living in the gut and change the way food is broken down and processed.
7. Development of Food and Other Allergies
By changing the natural micro flora of human intestines, antibiotics can lead to the development of food allergies. Moreover, exposure to antibiotics at an early age leads to significantly increased risk of developing allergies in adult life. This becomes especially noticeable if one is subjected to more than 2 courses of antibiotics during the first year of life. Again, the reasons are unclear but possibly connected to the disruption of normal gut flora.
8. Antibiotics Ruin Our Immune System
Humans have co-existed with bacteria for millions of years, and our immune systems have developed to keep infection at bay. By habitually dousing every small ailment with antibiotics, we suppress our own natural ability to fight off diseases. As a result, when one finally encounters a really dangerous disease, one’s natural immune system may turn out to be powerless to deal with it.
9. At Least Some Antibiotics Lead to Chronic Illness
Although antibiotics are supposed to kill bacteria while leaving human cells intact, some studies show that it is not always the case. Fluoroquinolone antibiotics such as Levaquin, Cipro and Avelox have been discovered to deplete mitochondrial DNA, damage cellular lipids and cause massive amount of oxidative stress within the gut. In the long run, they lead to a long list of symptoms ranging from tendon rupture and peripheral neuropathy to psychiatric problems and extremely complex and unpleasant Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome.
10. Not Completing a Course of Antibiotics Is Worse than not Starting It at All
If you’ve started a course of antibiotics, you should complete it. Otherwise the disease is likely to return, and this time it will be much harder to treat. It will be less likely to go away on its own accord, and will probably require another, more potent antibiotic to get rid of it.
Of course, antibiotics save lives every day. However, the way we use them today is far from what they are intended for. By treating trivial illnesses with this potent medication we feed bacterial drug resistance, which is a much more real and universal danger to human race than terrorism or nuclear war. If you need to write a critical essay but don’t know how, have a look at these writing tips. But if you have problems particularly with selecting the best topic for your essay in this field, check out the prepared topics on the dangers of antibiotics. Spend a minute on looking and save hours of searching and brainstorming.
Andrews, K.T., G. Fisher, T.S. Skinner-Adams. “Drug Repurposing and Human Parasitic Protozoan Diseases.” International Journal for Parasitology: Drugs and Drug Resistance 4.2: 95-111. Print
Brannon, Shannon. “I’m on a Life or Death Warning due to Antibiotic Resistance”. The Guardian. Nov. 18 2015
Gardiner, Beth. “Taking on the Superbugs”. The New York Times. Oct. 19 2015
Tavernise, Sabrina. ”White House Meeting Elicits Pledges to Reduce Antibiotic Use”. The New York Times. Jun. 2 2015
Tran, Mark. “’Last Resort’ Antibiotics Pose Growing Threat to Healthcare, Report Warns”. The Guardian. Nov. 16 2015
Stone, Judy. “Common Antibiotics Cause Arrhythmias, Death and Everything Else”. Forbes. Nov 9 2015
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Among scientific discoveries made throughout humankind’s history, some are well-known and instantly come to mind when one is asked to name the most important scientific discoveries of all time, while others can be easily overlooked, regardless of the tremendous impact they may have had on the world. Antibiotics can be named as an example of one of such discoveries; though they have revolutionized today’s medicine, they are not the first to come to one’s mind when talking about science.
Antibiotics were invented by Alexander Flemming in 1928 (Diggins). Antibiotics are chemical substances produced by various microorganisms and other living systems, and capable of inhibiting the growth of dangerous bacteria, viruses, and so on. Before the epoch of antibiotics began, there was not much that could be done for patients suffering from different infections, and death rates were much higher than today. For instance, the streptococcus pyogenes bacteria had caused about half of all post-birth deaths (Cleary); staphylococcus aureus was fatal in 80% of the cases. Tuberculosis and pneumonia bacteria were famous killers as well. Today, the discovery of antibiotics has enabled medicine to treat these communicable diseases (Tulkens) together with other diseases that were once considered terminal.
Antibiotics can be bacteriostatic (those that prevent bacteria from multiplying) (Dodd) or bactericidal—those that exterminate the bacteria. They penetrate a bacterial cell surface, causing changes in their mode of reproduction (Tulkens). Antibiotics can be prescribed to patients in various forms, such as topical application, orally, parentally, or as injections. Antibiotics are usually manufactured in two ways. One of them is natural and is known as biosynthesis; the other one is synthetic. Among the most commonly used antibiotics, one can name Penicillin, Cephalosporin’s, Aminoglycosides, Tetracycline’s, and Polypeptides Bacitracin.
Despite all their efficiency and advantages, antibiotics are often called a necessary evil. The truth is that drugs have the potential to be both beneficial and harmful for human health. Antibiotics are able to kill sensitive bacteria necessary for the normal functioning of one’s body; for example, the use of antibiotics negatively affects bacteria that live in intestines, thus causing dysbiosis. Besides, antibiotics do not always kill all harmful bacteria, allowing resistant ones to survive; this creates problems for the future treatment of similar diseases (Prober). Antibiotics often cause allergic reactions, such as rashes, severe anemia, stomach disorders, deafness, and many others.
Antibiotics are a beneficial discovery of the human genius. They help to cure diseases that had once been considered terminal, and are easily available in the modern world. At the same time, antibiotics are often treated as a necessary evil due to their negative side effects and the potential harm they can inflict on the human body.
1. Diggins FW. (1999). The True History of the Discovery of Penicillin with Refutation of the Misinformation in the Literature. British Journal of Biomedical Science, 56(2), 83.
2. Cleary PP, Schlievert PM, Handley JP (1992). Clonal Basis for Resurgence of Serious Streptococcus Pyogenes Disease in the 1980s. 339, 518–521.
3. Tulkens PM (1991. Intracellular Distribution and Activity of Antibiotics. European Journal of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, 10(2), 100-106.
4. Dodd MC, Stillman WB, Roys M, Crosby C (1994). The in Vitro Bacteriostatic Action of Some Simple Furan Derivatives. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Theraputics, 82(1), 8-11.
Hobson FC, Rice-Oxley JM (1951). Side-Effects of Antibiotics. British Medical Journal. 1(4707), 642.
5. CG Prober, PD Walson, J Jones (2000). Technical Report: Precautions Regarding the Use of Aerosolized Antibiotics. Pediatrics, 106(6), 89.
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