The main advantage of taking antibiotics is that the medication can save the lives of people infected with serious bacterial infections. Antibiotics can also shorten the length of time of infection and prevent infections from spreading to other parts of the body and other people, according to WebMD.
Antibiotics are only used to treat bacterial infections and do not harm viruses, protozoa or fungi. This is why a physician does not prescribe antibiotic medication for patients suffering from a viral infection, such as colds or the flu, explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Certain bacteria are resistant to some antibiotics, and some antibiotics do not target certain bacteria. To choose the appropriate drug, a physician has to know the type of bacterial infection the patient is experiencing. This can sometimes be a challenging task because many bacteria cause similar diseases, explains eMedicineHealth.
Because some bacteria have mutated over the years, physicians may need to know whether an original bacteria or a mutated strain caused the infection. To do this, a sensitivity and resistance test is ordered. It can help the medical team figure out which antibiotics an infection-causing bacteria is sensitive to and which ones it has a resistance against, according to eMedicineHealth.