Antibiotics: Some of the Inherent Risks

What's the difference between a bacteria and a virus, and how does that affect whether or not you should take antibiotics? Learn about this and more in this article!
Antibiotics: Some of the Inherent Risks
Diego Pereira

Reviewed and approved by the doctor Diego Pereira.

Last update: 15 December, 2022

Throughout the year, we suffer from many illnesses, colds, sore throats and viral infections that we try to treat with antibiotics.

On many occasions, we go to the doctor’s office hoping to receive this type of medication. However, it’s not always the best option.

Possible side effects

This drug was first used in 1940 and was one of the greatest medical advances. However, overusing an antibiotic can create resistant bacteria in the body.

Another important factor to keep in mind regarding this type of medicine is the side effects it produces. For example, if children take an antibiotic, they’re exposed to possible side effects, such as stomach pain and diarrhea. They may also be allergic to this drug.

Viruses versus bacteria

There are two types of germs that can affect our health: bacteria and viruses. Both microorganisms have similar symptoms and multiply and develop in a similar way.


Bacteria are living microorganisms that exist independently from cells.

They’re found in many places and are not always harmful to our body. One type of helpful bacteria is called lactobacillus, which lives in the intestine and helps us to digest food.

However, in some cases, bacteria are harmful and can cause disease by invading the human body when they mix in the body’s normal processes.

An antibiotic is highly effective in this case because they prevent microorganisms from growing and developing.


Viruses, on the other hand, can’t exist on their own since they’re not alive. They are, in fact, particles with genetic material wrapped in a thin protein coat.

Their growth and reproduction only occur after they invade living cells.

Our immune system can fight some viruses before they affect the body. However, an antibiotic is not effective on its own t o combat viruses.

Harmful use of antibiotics

El uso perjudicial de los antibióticos

Taking an antibiotic when you have a cold or suffer from other viral diseases is useless. Not only this, but they can have negative effects on your health in the future.

For example, they enhance the development of resistant bacteria.

More specifically, frequent and inappropriate use of this medicine can make bacteria or other microbes mutate and adapt. This makes antibiotic medicine no longer useful for fighting them.

This is called “bacterial resistance” or “antibiotic resistance.” When this happens, higher doses of stronger drugs or an antibiotic will be needed to fight these resistant bacteria.

In addition to antibiotic resistance, abuse of an antibiotic can lead to other problems.

Antibiotic can eliminate many different bacteria, both bad and good. This means that antibiotics even get rid of bacteria that are beneficial for your body to be healthy.

Moreover, taking this medication can cause a person to develop diarrhea due to the lack of beneficial bacteria that help to digest food well.

Thus, it’s best to look for substitutes.

The more antibiotics we use to ineffectively treat simple illnesses such as colds, the flu or other viral infections, the more useless they will be to fight the bacteria they try to treat.

The consequence of this can be a greater number of visits to the doctor to find a treatment that works.

When to take them

You should only take an antibiotic to treat bacterial infections.

If you have a mild infection, especially one caused by a virus, you must let it take its course. This is how you can prevent the development of germs becoming resistant to an antibiotic. It will be at the discretion of the doctor to make this decision depending on whether you have a mild disease or not.

Get medical advice. Sometimes, it’s not enough to go to the doctor’s office and follow the treatment. In addition, it’s important to collect information from the clinician about whether the disease we have is bacterial or viral.

You should never persuade your doctor to prescribe you antibiotics. You doctor knows what’s right for you.

In addition, there are very interesting natural antibiotic alternatives. Research them!

Read this article: The 5 Worst Lies You Can Tell Your Doctor

Spare antibiotics

It’s never a good idea to use a leftover antibiotic lying around the house, nor to use drugs prescribed to another person, be it a child or an adult.

Leftover antibiotic pills should be discarded as soon as possible, especially when your condition has improved and you can finish your treatment.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.