This broad classification of drugs comprises agents similar to the antibiotics in function but dissimilar in origin. The original antibiotics were derived from living organisms such as moulds and fungi. Anti-bacterials were developed from chemicals. The Sulphonamides were the first drugs to be given for the treatment of bacterial infections and were the mainstay of the treatment of infection before Penicillin (the first antibiotic) became generally available. Increasing bacterial resistance and the development of more effective and less toxic antibiotics have reduced the use of Sulphonamides.
How They work
Most anti-bacterials function by preventing the growth and multiplication of bacteria. Folic acid, a chemical necessary for their growth, is produced within bacterial cells by an enzyme that acts on a chemical called para aminobenzoic acid. Sulphonamides interfere with the release of the enzyme. This prevents folic acid from being formed. The bacterium is therefore unable to function properly and dies.
How They Affect You
Anti-bacterials usually take several days to eliminate bacteria. During this time your doctor may recommend additional medication to alleviate pain and fever. Possible side effects of Sulphonamides include loss of appetite, nausea, a rash and drowsines.
Risks and Special Precautions
Like antibiotics, most anti-bacterials can cause allergic reactions in susceptible people. Possible symptoms that should always be brought to your doctor's attention include rashes and fever. If such symptoms occur, a change to another drug is likely to be necessary. Treatment with Sulphonamides carries a number of serious but rare risks. Some drugs in this group can cause crystals to form in the kidneys, a risk that can be reduced by drinking adequate amounts of fluid during prolonged treatment. Because Sulphonamides may also occasionally damage the liver, they are not usually prescribed for people with impaired liver function. There is also a slight risk of damage to bone marrow, lowering the production of white blood cells and increasing the chances of infection. Doctors therefore try to avoid prescribing Sulphonamides for prolonged periods. Liver function and blood composition are often monitored during unavoidable long term treatment.
Friday, May 25, 2007