Broad-spectrum antibiotic

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The term broad-spectrum antibiotic refers to an antibiotic that acts against a wide range of disease-causing bacteria.[1] A broad-spectrum antibiotic acts against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, in contrast to a narrow-spectrum antibiotic, which is effective against specific families of bacteria.[2] An example of a commonly used broad-spectrum antibiotic is ampicillin.[3]

Uses[edit]

Broad-spectrum antibiotics are properly used in the following medical situations:

  • Empirically (i.e., based on the experience of the practitioner), prior to the formal identification of the causative bacteria, when there is a wide range of possible illnesses and a potentially serious illness would result if treatment is delayed. This occurs, for example, in meningitis, where the patient can become fatally ill within hours if broad-spectrum antibiotics are not initiated.
  • In the case of superinfections, where there are multiple types of bacteria causing illness, thus warranting either a broad-spectrum antibiotic or combination antibiotic therapy.
  • For prophylaxis after an operation, in order to prevent bacterial infections occurring.

Risks[edit]

As a side-effect, antibiotics can change the body's normal microbial content by attacking indiscriminately both the pathological and naturally occurring, beneficial or harmless bacteria found in the intestines, lungs and bladder.[4] The destruction of the body's normal bacterial flora provides an opportunity for drug-resistant microorganisms to grow vigorously and can lead to a secondary infection such as Clostridium difficile[5] (also known as "C. diff") or Candidiasis (also known as "thrush") in females. This side-effect is more likely with the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics.[6]

Examples[edit]

In medicine:

In veterinary medicine, Co-amoxiclav, (in small animals); penicillin & streptomycin and oxytetracycline (in farm animals); penicillin and potentiated sulfonamides (in horses).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Clayton L. Thomas Editor, Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary 17th ed., 1993 (ISBN 0-8036-8313-8)
  2. ^ S.J. Hopkins, Drugs and Pharmacology for Nurses 12th ed., 1997 (ISBN 0-443-05249 2)
  3. ^ S.J. Hopkins, Drugs and Pharmacology for Nurses 12th ed., 1997 (ISBN 0-443-05249 2)
  4. ^ E.A. Martin, Oxford Concise Medical Dictionary 6th ed., 2003 (ISBN 0-19-860753-9)
  5. ^ S.J. Hopkins, Drugs and Pharmacology for Nurses 12th ed., 1997 (ISBN 0-443-05249 2)
  6. ^ E.A. Martin, Oxford Concise Medical Dictionary 6th ed., 2003 (ISBN 0-19-860753-9)

External links[edit]

  • Clayton L. Thomas Editor, Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary 17th ed., 1993 (ISBN 0-8036-8313-8)
  • S.J. Hopkins, Drugs and Pharmacology for Nurses 12th ed., 1997 (ISBN 0-443-05249 2)
  • Ibid
  • E.A. Martin, Oxford Concise Medical Dictionary 6th ed., 2003 (ISBN 0-19-860753-9)