Antibiotic therapy is used to treat illnesses caused by bacterial infections. It can sometimes be difficult to tell whether an illness is caused by a bacteria, virus, or microorganism, making it hard to determine whether antibiotic therapy is an appropriate course of treatment. Some of the illnesses that can usually be treated with antibiotics include strep infections, urinary tract infections, some forms of sinus infections, and some skin infections.
Streptococcal infections are a common type of bacteria-caused illness that is usually treated with antibiotic therapy. These infections can manifest in many different ways, including as scarlet fever, which appears as a rash on the body accompanied by a high temperature. Strep throat, which is characterized by an extremely painful sore throat and cold or flu symptoms, is another common type of streptococcal infection. A secondary type of strep infection, called Group B strep, may include bacterial pneumonia and blood infections, and is usually only found in infants, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. Both Group A and Group B strep infections can usually be treated with swift antibiotic therapy.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the urinary tract. Symptoms include painful or frequent urination, a hypersensitive feeling in the groin, and fever or cramps. Urinary tract infections need to be treated with antibiotics, since they can cause more severe infections in the kidneys if unchecked. In some patients, UTIs can become chronic conditions that require a daily low dose of antibiotics. This type of regime needs to be carefully supervised by a physician, since daily antibiotic therapy can lead to an eventual intolerance of antibiotics.
Sinus infections may be bacterial or viral in nature, and can be somewhat difficult to treat. While viral sinus infections tend to clear up within a week or two, bacterial infections may linger on without improvement for weeks. Since so many sinus infections are viral in nature, many doctors are reluctant to prescribe antibiotics unless the illness is severe, has lasted several weeks, or does not appear to be clearing up with other remedies.
Skin infections are often caused by a growth of bacteria in the tissue layers of the skin. These are often characterized by red rashes, painful, scaly patches of skin, or pus-filled abscesses. Doctors may need to take a small sample of the infected area to determine the exact cause of the infection. Antibiotic therapy for bacteria-caused skin rashes may include oral medication, or a topical ointment that is spread on the infected area.