Antimicrobial is an agent that destroys the microorganisms and also inhibits their growth. Antimicrobial agents are crucial components in the treatment of different bacterial infections since they help to damage or prevent the growth of microbes such as bacteria, fungi, and protozoan (Leekha, Terrell & Edson, 2011). Before the knowledge of antimicrobial agents, the treatment options for persons having bacterial infections were few. For many of them, treatment involved the amputation of limbs or even death in some instances. At present, the treatment options available have a more positive prognosis. Regarding the different types of infections identified in patients, it is necessary to identify the underlying cause of the infection whether bacterial or viral before recommending drug treatments. The purpose of the essay is to provide a description of the categories of antimicrobial agents, differences between viral and bacterial infections, and the need for proper identification of viral and bacterial infections.
Categories of antimicrobial agents
Antimicrobial agents are classified into various types that include; the spectrum of activity, the effect on the bacteria, and the mode of action. The classification regarding the spectrum of activity is divided into a broad spectrum, intermediate spectrum, and narrow-spectrum. The spectra of activity vary with the acquisition of the resistance genes. The broad spectrum antibacterial is active against the gram positive and negative organisms. The narrow spectrum antibacterial has a limited activity and is useful against specific species of micro-organisms. An example is aminoglycosides and sulfonamides that are effective for the aerobic organisms and nitroimidazoles are effective for anaerobes (Cameron & McAllister, 2016).
The category of the effect on bacteria lies in the differences in the mechanisms by which the antibiotics affect the bacteria. Clinical use of the antimicrobials has different effects on the bacterial agents that result in an inactivation or death of the bacteria (Borhis & Richard, 2015). The category of antimicrobials is further divided into bactericidal drugs and bacteriostatic drugs. Bactericidal drugs tend to kill the target organisms while bacteriostatic drugs tend to inhibit the bacterial growth and their replication.
The last category regards the mode of action in which different antibiotics have various modes of action due to their structure and the degree of affinity to the target sites. The various modes of action include the inhibitors of the cell wall synthesis, inhibitors of cell membrane function, and inhibitors of protein synthesis, inhibitors of nucleic acid synthesis, and inhibitors of another metabolic process. The inhibitors of cell wall synthesis tend to kill or inhibit the bacterial organisms that target the cell wall. A disruption to the structure of the cell membrane tends to result in leakage of the solutes that are essential for the survival of the cell. Thus, the inhibitors to the cell membrane function are useful in the limiting of damage to the cells. Other antimicrobial agents tend to hinder protein synthesis despite being essential for the synthesis of enzymes and cellular structures (Cameron & McAllister, 2016). The agents target the bacterial protein synthesis and bind on them resulting in a disruption of the normal cellular metabolism and the death of the organism. Other antimicrobials work by binding to the components involved in DNA and RNA synthesis. It results in the disruption of the normal cellular processes that compromise bacterial survival. Other antimicrobials act on the cellular processes that are essential for bacterial pathogens survival.
The differences between viral and bacterial infections
Bacterial and viral infections have several things in common. Both are infections caused by microbes and spread by coughing and sneezing, contact with infected people, contaminated surfaces and food, and in the infected creatures. However, despite the similarities, there are several aspects of contrast between them. The most striking difference between bacteria and viruses is that antibiotic drugs tend to kill bacteria but are not against the viruses (Ho, et al., 2015).
Bacteria are mono-celled microorganisms and thrive in various types of environments. Most of them cause no harm, but some are dangerous to host in the body. The infections caused by bacteria include strep throat, tuberculosis, and urinary tract infections. Many of the bacterial infections have become resistant to treatment with the various existing antibiotics due to inappropriate use of the antibiotics (Leekha, Terrell & Edson, 2011).
Viruses, on the other hand, are smaller in size in comparison to bacteria and require living hosts to multiply and survive. Upon entry to the body, they invade the cells making them produce the virus. Among the common viral infections are chicken pox, AIDs, and common colds. It is challenging at times to distinguish between the causes of certain illnesses like pneumonia that is caused by either of them.
A disease from bacteria is caused by the pathogenic bacteria that have to gain access to the body via cuts, contaminated food and water, close contact with an infected person, contact with feces of an infected person, and breathing the exhaled droplets from an infected person. On the other hand, viral infections spread from one person to another through sneezes, coughs, vomits, bites, and exposure to the infected body fluids through sexual intercourse and sharing needles.
The treatment of the bacterial and the viral infections vary. Bacterial infections are treated using antibiotics that kill or halt them from multiplying. However, antibiotic resistance is a major problem that makes it appropriate to prescribe it for the serious bacterial infections only. The body reacts to the disease-causing bacteria by increasing the blood flow and sending cells from the immune system that attack and also destroys the bacteria. Antibodies from the immune system attach to the bacteria and assist in the destruction of bacteria (Leekha, Terrell & Edson, 2011).
For viral infection treatment, the common methods include managing symptoms like coughs, use of paracetamol to relieve fever, halting viral reproduction using antiviral medicines, and preventing infection using vaccines. Antibiotics do not work in the viral infections, hence are not necessary as a treatment option. Viruses are simple, and they use their host cell to perform their activities. The antiviral drugs are currently effective against few viral diseases, but research is in progress.
The need for proper identification of viral and bacterial infections in selecting the proper antimicrobial agent
Antimicrobial agents are the therapeutic drugs used in limiting the effect of microbes to the body. There are several considerations in the prescription of an antimicrobial agent to ensure that the therapy mechanism is effective (Blot, De Waele & Vogelaers, 2012). Proper identification of the infections is key to the selection of a proper antimicrobial agent. The considerations in the identification of the infection include accurate diagnosis, understanding the characteristics of antimicrobial agents, and recognizing the adverse effects of antimicrobial agents. It is necessary to identify the viral or bacterial infections since some illnesses are challenging to identify their cause (Leekha, Terrell & Edson, 2011). The symptoms may be due to bacterial or viral related since the illness is caused by either type of the microbe. In such instances, it becomes challenging to identify the most appropriate antimicrobial agent to treat the infection. In other instances, adverse effects may arise from the use of particular antimicrobial agent since the infection cannot be associated with any of the bacteria or viral infections. It becomes necessary to properly identify the viral and bacterial infections due to the need to efficiently treat them using the appropriate antimicrobial agent.
Antimicrobial agents are important aspects in the treatment of different bacterial infections. They are classified into various types that include; the spectrum of activity, the effect on the bacteria, and the mode of action. Bacterial and viral infections have various aspects in common but also have various contrasts between them. From research, it is needful to properly identify the viral and bacterial infections to enhance efficiency in treat them using the appropriate antimicrobial agent.
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Cameron, A., & McAllister, T. A. (2016) Antimicrobial usage, and resistance in beef production: Journal of Animal Science & Biotechnology, 71-22. Doi: 10.1186/s40104-016-0127-3
Ho, Z. M., Zhao, X., Cook, A. R., Loh, J. P., Ng, S. H., Tan, B. H., & Lee, V. J. (2015). Clinical differences between respiratory viral and bacterial mono- and dual pathogen detected among Singapore military members of the armed forces with febrile respiratory illness. Influenza & Other Respiratory Viruses, 9(4), 200-208. doi:10.1111/irv.12312
Leekha, S., Terrell, C. L., & Edson, R. S. (2011) General Principles of Antimicrobial Therapy: Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 86(2), 156–167.
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