What are Antibiotics? Why aren’t Antibiotics effective against viral diseases or infections?
Introduction: (up to 30 words) In short, explain what Antibiotics are.
Body: (up to 100 words) Write briefly about bacteria and how a virus differs from a bacteria; the reason for the ineffectiveness of antibiotics on viral infections.
Conclusion: (up to 30 words) Conclude with treatment for viral diseases.
Antibiotics, also known as antibacterials, are medications that destroy or slow down the growth of bacteria. They include a range of powerful drugs and are used to treat diseases caused by bacteria. Some slow down the growth of bacteria and damage their ability to reproduce and spread, while others kill the bacteria by destroying the bacteria cell walls. The choice of antibiotic depends on the type of bacteria.
Bacteria are very small organisms, and billions of them live in and on our body. Most of the time these bacteria are harmless or even helpful for the body, like those that help us to digest food, but some bacteria can cause diseases.
Viruses are different to bacteria; they have a different structure and a different way of surviving. Viruses don’t have cell walls that can be attacked by antibiotics; instead they are surrounded by a protective protein coat.
Unlike bacteria, which attacks the body’s cells from the outside, viruses actually move into, live in and make copies of themselves in the body’s cells. Viruses can't reproduce on their own, like bacteria do, instead they attach themselves to healthy cells and reprogram those cells to make new viruses. It is because of all of these differences that antibiotics don’t work on viruses.
Therefore, antibiotics cannot treat viral infections, such as cold, flu, and most coughs.
Most viral illnesses do not need special medication and are self-limiting”, meaning the body’s own immune system will kick in and fight off the illness. However, this can take time and therefore a cough and cold can last from 7 to 10 days and the flu might keep one down for 2 weeks or more. If a person comes down with a viral illness, one should rest, drink plenty of fluids and treat symptoms - like fever or aches and pains as directed by the doctor.
The best remedy against Viruses is vaccine. Vaccines stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies, which then can recognize the virus to inactivate it before it can cause disease. The best way to help prevent the viral diseases is with a vaccine.