Antibiotics for pneumonia: the whole truth

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A hundred years ago, pneumonia was justifiably considered an extremely dangerous disease, because it often resulted in the death of the patient. The disease is still a threat today. But thanks to the advent of antibacterial drugs, its danger has been greatly reduced. When used properly as prescribed by a doctor, antibiotics ensure recovery and prevent complications of pneumonia. Conversely, uncontrolled use of these drugs can cause irreparable harm to a patient’s health.

What is pneumonia

A lung disease, mostly infectious, that affects the alveoli (the end sections of the lungs) and interferes with gas exchange at the lung level.

  • Chest pain
  • Cough with sputum
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
  • High fever

Symptoms occur in both mild and severe forms. This depends on the type of microorganism that caused the disease, the age of the patient and the general state of health. In adults who do not have serious pathologies, the disease runs easier. It is most dangerous for young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems.

When pneumonia is suspected, laboratory tests of blood and sputum, chest X-ray. For a more detailed examination, a CT scan (computed tomography) of the lungs is used. If the diagnosis is confirmed, the doctor prescribes antibiotics. Their use is necessary to prevent further development of the infection and to prevent complications.

General principles of antibiotic therapy

Treatment begins as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed radiologically. Doctors use broad-spectrum antibiotics for therapy. After the exact determination of the microbial pathogen in the sputum, the treatment plan may be adjusted: the drug to which the identified microorganism is most sensitive is prescribed.

Also, replacement of one antibacterial agent with another is carried out if:

  • After taking the medication, no improvement occurs within 3 days.
  • Significant side effects have occurred from the use of a particular remedy.
  • The antibiotic is too toxic for a certain group of patients (children, pregnant women).

Decrease in fever, reduction of dyspnea, signs of intoxication, amount of sputum 72 hours after the start of treatment indicates the correct prescription of the drug.

Types of antibiotics for treating pneumonia

When prescribing drugs of this group, it is taken into account:

  • Type of pneumonia (cerebral pneumonia, aspiration pneumonia, focal pneumonia, prick pneumonia)
  • Age of the patient
  • The severity of the condition

New generation antibiotics are considered to be the most effective. They have the advantage of fast action on pathogens, fewer side effects, and better patient tolerance. Modern drugs have a long duration of action, so they are taken only 1-2 times a day. While 1st and 2nd generation antibacterials – Up to four.

Each group of antibacterials is effective against a specific type of pathogen. Thus, to combat pneumococci, the penicillin series is used. For pneumonia caused by chlamydia and mycoplasmas, prescribe macrolides, fluoroquinols. And cephalosporins destroy E. coli.

How the treatment is carried out

With a mild and moderate course of the disease, treatment at home is allowed. Therapy is carried out with antibiotics in tablets, capsules, in the form of suspension or syrup. In severe and complicated forms, injections are prescribed. If the disease is very severe, in the first days the drugs are administered intravenously, and later – intramuscular . And only after the condition improves, the patient is transferred to tablets. This change from one form of medicine to another is called «stepwise » course of treatment.

Antibacterials are prescribed for at least 7 days. Depending on the result of control radiological examination, then they are either cancelled or the treatment course is prescribed with the new antibiotics.

Antibiotics in the treatment of viral pneumonia

To treat viral pneumonia, completely different drugs are used than in the treatment of other forms of this disease. This is due to the fact that its causative agents are viruses that are not sensitive to antibacterial drugs. Therefore, their use is not only useless, but also dangerous. Using antibiotics incorrectly as prescribed causes the development of resistance in pathogenic bacteria. And when medications are really needed, they may not have the right effect. Antibiotics are used only if the pneumonia is mixed or if purulent complications develop.

Why antibiotics are ineffective

The decrease in the effectiveness of drugs is caused by:

  • Resistance of microorganisms to the particular drug prescribed for treatment
  • Frequent change of antibacterials, so that pathogenic microbes get used to them
  • Improperly chosen dosage

Most often such cases occur in patients who often self-medicate and take antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription.

Treatment of pneumonia cannot do without antibiotics. Today, it is the only effective measure to eliminate the microorganisms that caused the disease. But therapy should always be conducted under medical supervision. Self-administered and often improperly selected drugs, cause side effects, cause complications and extend the treatment period.