The First and Most Important thing to understand is the difference between bacterial infection and a virus. Antibiotics will only work for bacterial infections - so if that sore throat is the result of a virus, no antibiotic will be any good. But just what is the difference and how on earth do you know.
The truth is that there is very little hope for you determining this for yourself and in most cases by the time you have had a blood test to determine the difference the disease has been mopped up by your immune system anyway. But just in case you face a pub quiz, what are the differences?
1. A Bacterial Infection = Although bacteria and viruses are infinitely small and often have very similar effects on us humans they are very different. Bacteria are complex, single-celled creatures with a rigid wall and a thin, rubbery membrane surrounding the fluid inside the cell. They can reproduce very rapidly and very efficiently indeed, in fact bacterial populations can double (depending on the bacteria and conditions) as fast as 100% every hour. There are fossil records demonstrating that bacteria have existed for about 3.5 billion years which makes them among the oldest known life. Further, bacteria can survive in immensely hostile environments, including extremes of heat and cold, radioactive waste, battery acid and poisonous gas, there is little wonder that the the human body is a literally a paradise for them.
Most bacteria are completely harmless, and some actually help by digesting food, destroying disease-causing microbes, fighting diseased cells, cancer cells etc and providing nutritional support. Fewer than 1% of bacteria cause actual harm in people through disease.
2. Viruses = Viruses are tinier: the largest of the known viruses are considerably smaller than the smallest bacteria. They have no skin or dividing wall to speak off they do typically have a sort of protein coating and internally they contain a sort of core of genetic material, either RNA or DNA. Unlike bacteria, viruses can't survive without a host. A virus can only reproduce by attaching themselves to cells. In most cases, they then "reprogram" the cells to make new viruses until the cells burst and die. In other cases, they turn normal cells into malignant or cancerous cells.
Viruses cause disease, unlike bacteria whose infection may have side effects on the hosts immune system, viruses actually hijack the host and deliberately damage it. This selective process almost sometimes, demonstrates an intelligence. The virus is selective about the cells they attack. For example, certain viruses attack cells in the liver or respiratory systems.
So here are the 10 best reasons why Antibiotics are likely to be incorrect and useless or absolutely correct and useful. As always you should not utilise the internet to self diagnose. What you should do is go to see a trained scientist who has spent most of his 20's and a good portion of his 30's training in the worlds best scientific health centers to answer questions just like this, having conducted a full examination and taken an oral history directly from you. Fortunately these individuals live and work across the UK and can be found by googling "doctors near me" in your internet browser. See it was worth buying that IPAD.
Number 1. The Infection you have is Cold not a Flu. Chances are the infection you have is bacterial not viral. This is particularly true if the symptoms are localised. So if you have a sore throat and don't have any other symptoms - its likely to be a colony of bacteria living in your wet tissues of the neck breeding away waiting for your immune system to catch them and kill them off. You can take anything you like but if the colony is stubborn antibiotics will probably do the trick. If you have other symptoms though, then this could be a virus. They say you know you have the cold when you cannot get out of bed for work but you have the flu when you cannot get of bed. Thats a bit of an exaggeration but the point is strong. Colds are horrible, Flu is devastating.
Number 2. Bronchitis - almost always caused by a virus and antibiotics will have no effect at all. If symptoms persist see a doctor but dont expect or demand antibiotics.
Number 3. Sinusitis - that horrible painful blocked up feeling is a virus occupying the wet mucus producing area between the throat and the nose. Viral in most cases and antibiotics may assist. Usually by the time you get an appointment this will have been cleared by your own body which by and large is brilliant ( in use but not necessarily to look at).
Number 4. urinary tract infections that brings on loin pain in the back or the sides and temperature. This can mean that the colony of bacteria has spread to the kidneys and therefore antibiotics are likely to be necessary. Antibiotic treatment is also the mainstay for treatment of severe cystitis.
Number 5. Ringworm, ringworm is a fungal infection you can pour every antibiotic on earth into your system, you will still have ringworm, when you finally get off the toilet.
Number 6. Middle ear infections, usually viral, in children or adults if accompanied by fever and vomiting there is only really one solution and that is strong dose of antibiotic. Bacterial infections do indeed take hold in the ear but usually clear within 2/3 days and are rarely accompanied by symptoms other than that underwater noise.
Number 7. Eye infections - incredibly complex mechanisms which are open to all manner of infectious disease both from viruses, bacteria and fungi. Take no chances. see your gp straight away. If you have flashes or floaters or shadows, dont get an appointment insist you see them that day or get them to refer you to ophthalmology at your local hospital.
Number 8. Feeling down / under-the-weather - stop thinking that a pill is the answer, you may have a hundred different things and possibly even none. Only a consultation may get to the bottom of this a pill is likely to confuse the issue.
Number 9. Cramps / Aches / Pains - There is nothing in Antibiotic medication that will assist with your random muscle cramps, by and large you would achieve more by drinking Indian tonic water and having the occasional banana.
my friend took antibiotics and she cleared up straight away. Your friend probably would have cleared up straight away if she was prescribed strawberry yogurt or cucumber sandwiches. If you dont need them you dont them.
Graham Balmforth - www.law-med.co.uk