Antibiotics sometimes don’t work

Antibiotics are medications that kill bacteria or inhibit their growth. They are often prescribed for infectious diseases such as a bladder infection or pneumonia. A well-known and also the first antibiotic was penicillin. Sometimes an antibiotic does not work well. The disease then remains present. This can have various causes, which sometimes depend on the patient himself.

When do you get antibiotics?

Antibiotics are prescribed for infectious diseases caused by bacteria. Bacteria can multiply and spread very quickly. A simple infection can therefore develop into multiple infections. This can ultimately cause organs to malfunction. For this reason, it is important to prescribe antibiotics for certain infectious diseases. Antibiotics are only available with a prescription and therefore cannot be purchased in a store.

Antibiotics do not work on viruses

The first reason why antibiotics sometimes don’t work. It only works on bacteria. There are different types of antibiotics. They inhibit the growth of bacteria or they kill bacteria. Some bactericidal antibiotics require proper initial and growth of the bacteria so that they can be killed effectively. It is therefore logical that certain antibiotics should not be used interchangeably. Antibiotics work on the cell wall of the bacteria or on protein synthesis, while others destroy the DNA of the bacteria. Antibiotics do not work against viruses. A virus has no metabolism and uses the metabolism of its host. This makes it difficult to develop medicines against viruses. A virus can only be eliminated from the outside by switching off its own metabolism. Fortunately, our own immune system is able to attack and destroy viruses. Our body is also able to kill bacteria, but sometimes the bacteria are just a bit too strong or the immune system is too weak.
Antibiotics do not work on infections caused by viruses such as sore throat, laryngitis, colds, flu, mumps, measles, chickenpox, etc.

Antibiotic treatment not completed

An antibiotic is prescribed in a certain amount for a number of days. This is also called a course of antibiotics. The treatment must be completed completely to kill all bacteria. People often start to feel better after two days of antibiotics. The result is that some people stop taking the treatment because they no longer consider it necessary. Not all bacteria are killed this way. Bacteria remain present that can resurface later. The infection returns in full force and is often more difficult to combat.

Bacteria are resistant to antibiotics

Every organism wants to survive, including bacteria. When bacteria are attacked, the strongest will survive and change something in their DNA that makes the next generation more resistant to the attackers. Unfinished courses of antibiotics quickly achieve this: bacteria are left behind that build up a defense against the antibiotics.
In the meat industry, cattle, chickens and pigs are vaccinated en masse with antibiotics. As a result, we continuously receive antibiotics, resulting in resistant bacteria. Antibiotics are also prescribed far too often. Although doctors have prescribed antibiotics less and less often in recent years, the damage has already been done and many antibiotics no longer work.

Wrong antibiotics

Another reason why antibiotics sometimes do not work: the wrong antibiotic has been prescribed. There are different groups of antibiotics. The broad-spectrum antibiotics work against multiple species. The narrow-spectrum antibiotics work against a specific type of bacteria. If the wrong antibiotic is prescribed, the bacteria will not respond to it. The effect is then nullified and the inflammation remains. If the doctor is unsure about the type of bacteria, he can first take urine, blood or wound fluid and see which bacteria are found.


Antibiotics are rarely used in dentistry. The medicine has a very difficult time reaching the living tissue of the tooth or molar or the root. Bacteria are hidden deep there. This makes it difficult to combat them with antibiotics. Antibiotics only work reasonably well for periodontitis caused by certain types of bacteria. In the case of a root tip infection, antibiotics will sometimes be prescribed to calm the inflammation. However, the inflammation will not disappear and a root canal treatment is required. Antibiotics are sometimes also prescribed prior to dental treatment to kill any bacteria present in the oral cavity. This greatly reduces the risk of infection during treatment.

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