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An antibiotic refers to a substance that either kills or slows down the process of bacteria growth. Antibiotics, together with other anti-viral, anti-parasitic and anti-fungal drugs form a larger group known as microbials. Antibiotics can be considered to be selective poisons and are therefore relatively harmless to human beings. Originally, the term was used in reference to only those formulations made using living organisms. Today, the term refers to even synthetic antimicrobials, for example, sulfonamides.

For an antibiotic to be prescribed, the doctor has to determine the type of infection, its location and whether or not the antibiotic can reach the site of the infection. Oral antibiotics are the most commonly preferred approach. Intravenous antibiotics are usually targeted at infections that are much more serious. Sometimes, antibiotics are prescribed in the form of ointments or eyedrops.

Nowadays, antibiotics have been subject to overuse and misuse. Misuse comes in form of taking antibiotics that are inappropriate or not adhering to prescription instructions relating to dosage. It is common for a patient to feel better and hence to stop taking antibiotics. In most cases, when one feels better, this is not to say that the disease-causing microorganism has been completely eradicated.

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