Different types of antibiotics and their uses

What Are Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are drugs that are used for eliminating infections caused by bacteria. There are two ways of how antibiotics work, including killing the bacteria or preventing it from reproducing.

The term antibiotic means "against life." First antibiotics were discovered in the 1920s, but before this time millions of people had died even from simple bacterial infections. Antibiotics are an important part of different types of surgeries, helping prevent infections or treating them effectively. Thanks to the massive use of antibiotics that started in the 1940s, surgeries have become safer, life expectancy has increased, and lots of lives have been saved.

According to the Weizmann scientists, our bodies contain around 39 trillion bacterial cells. Most of them are harmless, but some are helpful. Bacteria are able to infect any organ, and that is why the use of antibiotic is so important.

Antibiotics are used for the treatment of a wide range of infections including the following:

  • Sinus and ear infections;
  • Bacterial pneumonia;
  • Strep throat;
  • Dental infections;
  • Meningitis;
  • Skin infections;
  • Bladder infections;
  • Kidney infections;
  • Whooping cough.

In fact, bacterial infections can only be treated with antibiotics, but these drugs are useless against viral infections, such as:

  • Most sore throats;
  • Flu;
  • Some bronchitis infections;
  • Cold;
  • Most coughs;
  • Stomach flu.

Because it is not always clear whether a person has viral or bacterial infections, and it is time-consuming and costly to make additional tests, antibiotics are often overused. This has resulted in antibiotic resistance, a major thread that makes antibiotics helpless against some bacteria.

Further, you will find information on different types of antibiotics and their uses.

What Types of Antibiotics Exist?

All antibiotics are divided into two types based on their abilities to destroy multiple bacterial infections, including:

  • Broad-spectrum antibiotics that are able to kill different bacteria;
  • Narrow-spectrum drugs that can be used to manage infections caused by specific bacteria.

Most antibiotics have two different names, including the brand and generic name. The brand name is given to a medication by the manufacturer, and a generic name is given based on its chemical class or chemical structure.

All in all, more than one hundred antibiotics exist, and most of them belong to several types of drugs, including the following:

  • Sulfonamides;
  • Tetracyclines;
  • Fluoroquinolones;
  • Cephalosporins;
  • Penicillins;
  • Macrolides;


Sulfonamides are used for the treatment of urinary tract infections and acne. The following medications belong to Sulfonamides:

  • Sulfadiazine;
  • Septrin (co-trimoxazole);
  • Gantanol (sulfamethoxazole);
  • Bactrim, Septra DS, Bactrim DS, and Septra (Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole);
  • Trimpex, Primsol, and Proloprim (Trimethoprim);
  • Azulfidine EN-tabs, Sulfazine, and Azulfidine (Sulfasalazine);
  • Gantrisin (Sulfisoxazole).


Tetracyclines belong to broad-spectrum antibiotics that can treat the following conditions:

  • Urinary tract infections;
  • Respiratory tract infections;
  • Intestine infections;
  • Rosacea and acne;
  • Chlamydia (usually, they are used in patients with allergy to macrolides and




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