What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Antibiotics?

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Antibiotics are advantageous because they combat infections preserve lives and do not harm normal body cells, but they are disadvantageous because they have side effects and can kill healthy bacteria. About.com also notes that harmful microorganisms, such as Staphylococcus aureus, can develop a resistance to antibiotics. Bacteria develop resistance through gene mutation, which alters their cell walls.

Most antibiotics are affordable, easy to administer and effective against a wide range of harmful bacteria. They also have wide applications, such as food preservation, stimulation of growth and treating diseases that are caused by animals, according to Wikipedia. However, they can cause complications, such as yeast infections. Additionally, the overuse of antibiotics increases the incidence of bacterial infections, according to About.com. Furthermore, most antibiotics contain sulfa, which may cause allergic reactions. Common side effects of antibiotics include sensitivity to light, indigestion, nausea, diarrhea and discomfort.

SRS Pharmaceuticals notes that antibiotics act by killing or inhibiting the growth of microorganisms. Broad-spectrum antibiotics are recommended when there is bacterial resistance to narrow-spectrum antibiotics, but SRS Pharmaceuticals also points out that broad-spectrum antibiotics increase the risk of developing childhood asthma. Examples of broad-spectrum antibiotics include Amoxicillin, Levofloxacin, Gatifloxacillin, Streptomycin, Tetracycline and Chloramphenicol.

Penicillin, which was discovered in 1928 by Alexander Fleming, was the first antibiotic to be used. About.com reveals that antibiotics should not be used to treat flu, sore throat and common cold because these are viral infections.