How do antibiotics work?

Prior to the 1900s, there was no treatment for bacterial infections such as pneumonia, ear infections, or urinary tract infections. Now there are many types of antibiotics that can fight serious infections. How do these antibiotics work?

Some antibiotics such as penicillin work by attacking the cell wall of the bacteria. They prevent the bacteria from producing a vital element of the cell wall called peptidoglycan, which provides the cell wall with the strength it needs to survive.

Other antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin prevent the bacteria from growing by targeting its DNA replication. By stopping the cell’s own DNA, it stops the spread of the bacteria throughout the body.

Some antibiotics such as tetracycline stop the bacteria’s protein synthesis. Without these proteins, the bacteria can’t carry out their vital functions such as reproduction.

Antibiotics such as trimethoprim fight infection by stopping the bacteria from producing folic acid, an essential vitamin, which disrupts the cells membrane.

Bacteria rupturing after exposure to an antibiotic:

bacteria

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