Staph Infection Antibiotics- Understanding the Treatment
Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, commonly referred to as staph, is found in the nose and skin of many individuals. In most cases, it is harmless, but if it enters the body, it can cause a staph infection, which can be life-threatening. Staph infection can range from simple skin infections to invasive diseases like pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis, and endocarditis.
Fortunately, staph infections can be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics are medications used to kill or prevent the growth of bacteria. The use of antibiotics for staph infections has been in practice for over seventy years, and it has proven to be a highly effective means of treatment. However, overuse and misuse of antibiotics are leading causes of antibiotic resistance globally.
This article will help you understand the different types of staph infection antibiotics, their modes of action, and possible side effects.
Classification of Staph Infection Antibiotics
Staph infection antibiotics can be classified into five main categories:
Beta-lactams antibiotics: This type of antibiotic works by disrupting the synthesis of the bacterial cell wall, leading to the death of the bacteria. They are often described as “penicillin-like antibiotics,” and they include methicillin, oxacillin, amoxicillin, and Augmentin. Penicillins are more active against gram-positive bacteria than gram-negative bacteria. Methicillin and oxacillin are penicillinase-resistant penicillins and are used in the treatment of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
Glycopeptide antibiotics: This group of antibiotics works by inhibiting the cell wall synthesis of bacteria. Vancomycin is the most commonly used antibiotic in this category, and it is often referred to as the “last-line drug” in the treatment of MRSA infections. It is administered intravenously.
Macrolide antibiotics: This group of antibiotics works by inhibiting bacterial protein synthesis. Erythromycin and azithromycin are macrolide antibiotics commonly used in the treatment of staph infections caused by penicillin-resistant bacterial strains. Macrolide antibiotics are preferred in cases where penicillin and beta-lactamase antibiotics are not effective.
Tetracycline antibiotics: This type of antibiotic works by preventing bacterial protein synthesis. Tetracycline, minocycline, and doxycycline are the most commonly used tetracycline antibiotics in the treatment of staph infections. These antibiotics are often effective against penicillin-resistant staph infections, but overuse can lead to antibiotic resistance.
Fluoroquinolone antibiotics: This group of antibiotics works by inhibiting bacterial DNA synthesis. Levofloxacin and moxifloxacin are the most commonly used fluoroquinolone antibiotics in the treatment of staph infections. These antibiotics are effective against penicillin-resistant strains of staphylococcus aureus, but they can cause side effects like tendonitis in some patients.
Mode of Action of Staph Infection Antibiotics
The different types of staph infection antibiotics work in different ways to kill or prevent the growth of bacteria.
Beta-lactams antibiotics: Beta-lactams, like penicillins, work by inhibiting the transpeptidase enzyme involved in the bacterial cell wall synthesis. By interfering with the cell wall synthesis, these antibiotics cause the bacteria to burst and die.
Glycopeptide antibiotics: Glycopeptide antibiotics like vancomycin work by inhibiting the formation of the peptidoglycan layer in the cell wall of gram-positive bacteria. Without this cell wall layer, the bacteria are unable to maintain osmotic pressure, leading to their death.
Macrolide antibiotics: Macrolide antibiotics like erythromycin and azithromycin work by targeting the bacterial ribosome and inhibiting bacterial protein synthesis. Without protein synthesis, the bacteria are unable to function, and they die.
Tetracycline antibiotics: Tetracycline antibiotics like doxycycline and minocycline works by binding to the bacterial ribosome, inhibiting protein synthesis and preventing bacterial growth.
Fluoroquinolone antibiotics: Fluoroquinolone antibiotics like levofloxacin and moxifloxacin work by binding to bacterial DNA and inhibiting DNA synthesis, leading to cell death.
Side Effects of Staph Infection Antibiotics
Even though antibiotics are highly effective in treating staph infections, they can cause side effects. The severity of the side effects varies depending on the type of antibiotic, the dosage, and the duration of treatment. Be sure to inform your healthcare provider if you experience any side effects, no matter how mild they may seem.
Some of the common side effects of staph infection antibiotics include:
Allergic reactions: Some patients may develop an allergic reaction to antibiotics like penicillins or cephalosporins. Symptoms of allergic reactions include hives, rash, breathing difficulty, and swelling of the face, tongue, and throat.
Gastrointestinal issues: Stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are common side effects of antibiotics. Antibiotics like tetracyclines can also cause an upset stomach when taken with dairy products.
Skin discolorations: Antibiotics like tetracyclines can cause skin discolorations, especially in people who are exposed to sunlight or UV rays.
Tendon rupture: Fluoroquinolone antibiotics, like levofloxacin and moxifloxacin, can cause tendonitis and tendon rupture.
Photosensitivity: Some antibiotics, like tetracyclines, can cause allergic reactions when exposed to sunlight or UV rays, leading to skin rashes and sunburns.
Overuse and misuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance. This means that the bacteria become resistant to the antibiotic, decreasing the effectiveness of these drugs in treating bacterial infections. Antibiotic resistance is a global problem, leading to increased morbidity, mortality, and healthcare costs.
To reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance, it is essential to use antibiotics correctly. Always complete the full course of antibiotics as prescribed by your healthcare provider, even if you start to feel better. Do not share antibiotics or use leftover antibiotics, and do not pressure your healthcare provider to prescribe antibiotics if they are not necessary.
Staph infections can be life-threatening, but they can be treated with antibiotics. The type of antibiotic prescribed can vary depending on the severity of the infection and the sensitivity of the bacteria to the drug. The five main categories of staph infection antibiotics include beta-lactams antibiotics, glycopeptide antibiotics, macrolide antibiotics, tetracycline antibiotics, and fluoroquinolone antibiotics.
Before prescribing antibiotics, your healthcare provider will conduct a susceptibility test to determine which antibiotic is most effective against the bacteria causing the infection. Remember to complete the full course of antibiotics, and do not share or use leftover antibiotics to reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance. If you develop any side effects, be sure to inform your healthcare provider.