In the contemporary medical world, the use of antimicrobial agents is on the rise. Such a trend comes with theadvantage of protecting the consumers of health from the harsh effects of infections as well as the challenge of antimicrobial agent misuse. The latter is not desirable given its implications on the wellbeing of an individual. For instance, the inappropriate use of antimicrobial agents may result in antimicrobial resistance, which in the end causes persistence of infections(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017).As such, the appropriate prescription and use of the antimicrobial agents is not an option if avoidance of antimicrobial resistance is a priority. In essence, this paper aims at addressing this issue by bringing to light theavailable types of antimicrobials and key considerations that one must take before their use.Central to the analysis is the establishment ofthe different types of antimicrobial agents, the variations between the viral and bacterial infections as well as the importance of proper identification of viral and bacterial infections before selection of antimicrobial agents.
Types of Antimicrobial Agents
Primarily, the antimicrobial agents abound due to the presence of various microorganisms. That said, there are four broad types of antimicrobial agents currently in the market. They include antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and antiparasitic drugs (Arcangelo, Peterson, Wilbur, & Reinhold, 2017). Antibacterial drugsare the most common and effective against bacteria. They are classified either as bactericidal or bacteriostatic. Bactericidal drugs such as penicillin act by killing the bacteria by bacterial cell disruptionwhile bacteriostatic agents like erythromycin inhibit cell replication without causing bacteria death (Greenwood, Barer, Slack, & Irving, 2012).
Antifungal drugs are effective in the treatment of fungal infections such as candidiasis. However, the antifungal agents are relatively a few making the treatment of systemic fungal infections problematic. Befitting examples of antifungal agents include griseofluvin, nystatin and ketoconazole (Greenwood, Barer, Slack, & Irving, 2012).
On the contrary, antiviral drugs are effective against viral infections like HIV, herpes simplex virus and varicella-zooster virus infections. Also, their number is incomparable to the existent antibacterial agents. Approximately, half of the total antiviral agents are nucleotides or nucleoside analogues whose phosphorylation into an active triphosphate within the cell enables it to inhibit the viral DNA synthesis. A case in point of such antivirals is Acyclovir. Another class of antivirals entails the antiretroviral agents, which are effective against the HIV infection (Greenwood, Barer, Slack, & Irving, 2012).
Lastly, the antiparasitic drugs such as antihelminthand antiprotozoal agentsare effective againstparasites, both helminthic and protozoan infections. Examples of antiparasitic drugs include metronidazole and mebendazole (Greenwood, Barer, Slack, & Irving, 2012).
Differences between Viral and Bacterial Infections
Viral and bacterial infections differ in a variety of ways that are worth noting. For instance, according to Miller,(2017),viral infections require living tissues for their multiplication within the body while bacterial infections are not reliant on the living body cells for their replication. Notwithstanding, viral infections are intracellular-mediated as they attack the DNA for replication while bacteria attack the extracellular components such as cell wall for the development of an infection(Leekha, Terrell & Edson, 2011). Besides, viral infections result in a high degree of immunity compared to the bacterial infections. Lastly, viral infections require antiviral agents for treatment since antibiotics used for bacterial infections are not effective against them(Damani, 2014).
Importance of Proper Identification of Viral and Bacterial Infections
Given the differences between viral and bacterial infections, proper identification of the type of infection that an individual presents with is necessary for the selection of the most appropriate antimicrobial agent. That is for sure since such a determination will point to susceptibility of the causative organism to certain antimicrobial agents. With such information, the healthcare personnel will initiate the identified most effective drugs for quick recovery from the infection (Whalen, 2014). Consequently, the proper identification of the infecting organism saves time and optimizes healthcare outcomes given the preciseness in the selection of best antimicrobial agent.
Concisely, this paper aimed at identifying the various types of antimicrobial agents, differences between the viral and bacterial infections as well as the importance of proper identification of viral and bacterial infections before selection of antimicrobial agents. Largely, the discussion has addressed these areas and various implications arise from the analysis and are worth noting. A case in point of such considerations is the need for a background check on the infective organism for the determination of its susceptibility to a specific antimicrobial agent. With such a consideration, the treatment and recovery from infections becomes fast and inexpensive. However, in the absence of the same, infections will continue to affect persons for long timeframes and increase the cost of treatment. As such, going forward, healthcare personnel must bear in mind the need for such a practice if the cost of treatment is to remain low as well as achieve better health outcomes.
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). About Antimicrobial Resistance | Antibiotic/Antimicrobial Resistance | CDC. Cdc.gov. Retrieved 17 October 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/about.html
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Leekha, S., Terrell, C., & Edson, R. (2011). General Principles of Antimicrobial Therapy. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 86(2), 156-167. http://dx.doi.org/10.4065/mcp.2010.0639
Miller, M. E. (2017). Infectious Human Diseases. Momentum Press.
Whalen, K. (2014). Pharmacology (6th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.