Disclaimer :
The health information contained herein is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace discussions with a healthcare provider.
All decisions regarding patient must be made with a healthcare provider, considering the unique characteristics of the patient.



What are bacteria?

Bacteria are living organisms. Millions of them are in the air we breathe, in the food we eat, and on the surfaces we touch. However, there are good bacteria and bad bacteria. Some of the foods we eat, for example, like cheese, yogurt and beer, contain bacteria that do not harm us. Harmful or foreign bacteria find the human body the perfect host because it's warm and provides constant nutrition. These bacteria cause disease and infection when they enter the body.

What is an antibiotic?

An antibiotic is a chemical substance that either stops the growth or kills bacteria. Antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria. These kinds of infections are called bacterial infections. However, antibiotics will not cure colds or flu caused by viruses. These infections are called viral infections and the symptoms include runny nose, watery eyes, dry cough, sore throat, chills, aches and pains.

What is Antibiotic Resistance?

When bacteria can defend themselves against the effect of an antibiotic, they are said to be antibiotic-resistant. The word "superbug" is used by the media to describe bacteria that have become resistant to certain antibiotics. One of the reasons for the increase in antibiotic resistance is the misuse and overuse of antibiotics.

Due to the inappropriate use of antibiotics, an increase has occurred in the resistance of many kinds of bacteria to this medication. Many of the more familiar antibiotics like penicillin have become ineffective against or resistant to bacterial infections like Streptococcus, the most common cause of pneumonia, meningitis and sinus and ear infections.

When people don't take antibiotics properly, instead of eliminating the infection altogether, the antibiotic kills only the weaker, non-resistant organisms and leaves the tougher ones to become more resistant.

To reduce the problem of antibiotic resistance :

  • Follow your doctor's instructions when taking antibiotics.
  • Take your antibiotics at the same time every day.
  • Finish all your antibiotics to kill the bacteria completely.
  • Never take another person's antibiotics.
  • Do not take antibiotics for a cold or the flu (These are viral infections and they do not respond to antibiotics).

What factors suggest that you have a bacterial infection?

If you have a bacterial infection, these are the signs. These symptoms usually last longer than two weeks :

  • A high, persistent temperature or fever.
  • A thick, coloured discharge from your nose.
  • A chronic cough.

Why should you differentiate between bacterial and viral infections?

Both bacterial and viral infections can make you feel sick. They also have many of the same symptoms. However, a bacterial infection needs to be treated with antibiotics, while a viral infection like a cold or the flu cannot be.

Common bacteria, the bacterial infections or diseases they cause and the symptoms :

Streptococcus causes strep throat. The symptoms of this infection include painful sore throat, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, fever, headache. It also causes bacterial pneumonia and the symptoms are fever, chills, coughs, difficulty breathing, chest and abdominal pain, loss of appetite.

Escherichia causes gastroenteritis. Symptoms are abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fever, kidney failure.

Clostridium causes botulism or food poisoning. This disease affects the nervous system and causes muscle paralysis, difficulty breathing and swallowing, dry mouth, double vision, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, constipation, sore throat, dizziness, diarrhea.

Salmonella also causes another type of food poisoning called salmonellosis. Symptoms include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever.

Neisseria meningitidis causes meningitis. The symptoms are fever, vomiting, diarrhea, severe headache, neck stiffness, joint or muscle pain, stomach cramps, sensitivity to bright light, drowsiness, confusion or disorientation, possible rash.

Useful advice to people taking antibiotics :

MYTH : I can stop taking my antibiotics because I feel better.
FACT : Keep taking the antibiotics exactly as your doctor prescribed, even if you feel better. If you don't finish them, you might get sick again and your infection may be more difficult to treat.

MYTH : I can take antibiotics at any time of the day.
FACT : Take each dose at the same time each day, according to your doctor's instructions. Antibiotics don't work as well when they aren't taken on time. Taking antibiotics irregularly allows bacteria to adapt and multiply, adding to the problem of antibiotic resistance.

MYTH : I can save leftover antibiotics for the next time I get sick.
FACT : Never take leftover pills, whether they're your own or someone else's. Antibiotics are prescribed specifically for you and the infection you have. The prescribed medication takes into account any allergies or health concerns you have. It is wrong to think that your leftover pills from another illness will work.

MYTH : Antibiotics will help cure colds and flu.
FACT : Colds and flu are caused by viruses. Viral infections do not respond to antibiotics. Antibiotics will only help if your illness is caused by a bacterial infection.

Pfizer Global    SITEMAP | CONTACT US   
Copyright © 2009 Pfizer Limited, India. All rights reserved. Bookmark this page | Feedback | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use
The product information provided in this site is intended only for residents of India. The products discussed herein may have different product labeling in different countries.
Site best viewed in Internet Explorer 5.5 + & Netscape Navigator 7.0 + with screen resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels.