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  #1  
Old 12-16-2006, 01:49 AM
Carnick Carnick is offline
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How fast can antibiotics work?

There was a time when I was on my butt sick with a serious chest cold, fluids gushing from every orifice. It was like that for five days without any sign of my symptoms getting any better. I finally got a hold of some antibiotics, and I swear I was 70% better in a matter of four to five hours. My sinuses suddenly popped open, my nose stopped running, and I stopped coughing. They say that antibiotics take effect in 24 to 48 hours - is it physically possible for them to work sooner? I've been sick for the past few days and just took my first pill five hours ago, and I feel much better now. Dramatically better. Is it a placebo affect, or can antibiotics work that quickly?
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  #2  
Old 12-16-2006, 04:52 AM
ticker ticker is offline
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Antibiotics are not at all effective for colds and flu as these are viral diseases. Antibiotics are for bacterial infections and taking them when not indicated is thought to contribute to the emergence of resistant strains. Don't do it.
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Old 12-16-2006, 05:32 AM
ParentalAdvisory ParentalAdvisory is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnick
I've been sick for the past few days and just took my first pill five hours ago, and I feel much better now. Dramatically better. Is it a placebo affect, or can antibiotics work that quickly?
I think you "peeked" a day or so before in your sickness and that the antibiotic was a coincidence in your well being the next day. As stated above, antibiotics don't cure virual infections..., unless it was yeast that was coming out from every orifice!
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Old 12-16-2006, 05:33 AM
ParentalAdvisory ParentalAdvisory is offline
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Make that, "peaked".
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  #5  
Old 12-16-2006, 06:32 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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It should start working as soon as the antibiotic is in the blood, which is why a doctor gives a seriously ill person a shot right at the visitation. It of course takes time for it to work, sice it's basicaly a lethal dose of poison for the bateria that need to be killed, that is still a dose your body can withstand. Pill's take more time to obtain a lethal dose in your blood stream that will be toxic for the bacteria.
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  #6  
Old 12-16-2006, 06:41 AM
bbs2k bbs2k is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ticker
Antibiotics are not at all effective for colds and flu as these are viral diseases. Antibiotics are for bacterial infections and taking them when not indicated is thought to contribute to the emergence of resistant strains. Don't do it.
You are correct in saying that they do nothing for the virus if you have a cold or flu, but giving antibiotics to people prone to a secondary bacterial infection infection, which can occur in very bad cases of a flu or cold, is an important part of practicing good medicine. The people prone to this being the very young, the very old, and the immunologically compromised patients.

Answer to the OP, I'm no doctor, but from what I've learned in my microbiology and pathophysiology classes is that they work very fast, but it is still very important to continue to take them for however long the prescription was in order to completely overcome the infection. If you stop taking them early you may leave behind the organisms which were the most resistant and the infection can reemerge and the same antibiotic might be less effective, if not completely ineffective.

So basically I'm agreeing with ticker , but adding that there are exceptions.
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  #7  
Old 12-16-2006, 06:50 AM
freckafree freckafree is offline
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A few years ago, my son was seriously ill, and when I got him to the doctor, the doctor said, "We either give him two shots right now or put him in the hospital and deliver it intravenously." Can't remember what high-powered antibiotic it was, but we went for the shots (in the butt, one in each cheek, poor kid), and he was indeed dramatically better within just a few hours.
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  #8  
Old 12-16-2006, 07:05 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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Upper respitory problems are many times baterialogical not viral, and you may have had a sinus infection or strept. I have suffered for about 35 years from nuralogical damage from a strept throut that has made it hard not to be a periah, and the symptoms alone are almost unbearable at times. A second cousin had heart damage from the strept infection that usualy accompanies the condition I got, but didn't. He never was able to do much in the way of physical activities ever. I had to refrain from many physical activities for a year, before being allowed to bicycle, run or play hard. Both conditions are pervented by antibiotics given for stepic infection immediately, so the infection doesn't damage the heart or brain.
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  #9  
Old 12-16-2006, 07:44 AM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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What BigBaby says is true, but 95% of the folks who think they need antibiotics for their respiratory infections don't.

I'd say that overall, 2/3 of antibiotic prescriptions in the US are unnecessary. The medical profession is pushing hard to cut back on antibiotic abuse, especially trying to stop them from being prescribed reflexively for bronchitis, sore throats, and ear infections.

Sadly, I've had patients leave quite angry, not listening to reason, because I don't give them what they want to treat their symptoms.

The CDC has a good FAQ aimed at public education about antibiotics. http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/community/faqs.htm

As for the OP, when antibiotics are needed, they can be lifesaving! However, most take at least 24 hours to make a clinically observable difference in the patient's condition (falling WBC count, normalization of vital signs, decrease in purulent drainage or observable cellulitis, etc.)

As for strep throat, yes this needs treatment. NOT to make the throat feel better (antibiotics won't shorten the clinical course of the sore throat), but to prevent possible complications like heart and kidney damage.

But 99+% of sore throats are not strep, and even when all the "classic" signs and symptoms of strep are present (sudden onset, high fever, headache, pus on the tonsils, swollen tender glands the size of marbles, lack of cold symptoms like runny nose, sneezing, cough), it turns out to not be strep in over half the cases. Many viral throat infections can produce the same symptoms in the throat as strep. Fortunately these viruses aren't likely to damage heart and kidneys the way strep is. (And that's Group A bet-hemolytic strep that does the damage, not the other types)

OK, I'll get off the soap box.
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  #10  
Old 12-16-2006, 07:51 AM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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And harmonious Discord's struggles with the complications of strep demonstrate why it is necessary to test for strep on those who are at risk for the infection. Evidence shows that if the patient has 3 or 4 of the symptoms of strep I outlined above, a strep test should be done. And if positive, then the patient should get penicillin (still the medication of choice!).

It's actually ok to wait a few days for the results to come back before treating. As long as the patient gets the antibiotic within 10 days of the symptoms, the risk cardiac and kidney complications should be minimal (Rheumatic fever occurs in 3% of kids between age 3 and 15 who have untreated strep throat. Both before and after that age, this complication is much less likely.)
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  #11  
Old 12-16-2006, 08:29 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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I want people to have the strep test done too be sure. The doctor can perscribe the antibiotic when it's strep and not if it's viral. People need to have thetest done though and not wait. Strept can also be present when many of the symptoms go away, too come back nasty a month later. Anybody that has contact with a person where siliva or other fluids contact themsleves should be watching for strept. A spoon liked by a kid and the parent is a good path of infection, or a sneeze on a person.
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  #12  
Old 12-16-2006, 09:17 AM
StuffLikeThatThere StuffLikeThatThere is offline
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When I have a urinary tract infection (which is all too often), and I get an antibiotic from the doctor, I feel better a few hours after taking the first dose.
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  #13  
Old 12-16-2006, 09:52 AM
KarlGauss KarlGauss is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StuffLikeThatThere
When I have a urinary tract infection (which is all too often), and I get an antibiotic from the doctor, I feel better a few hours after taking the first dose.
That may be the exception to the "24 hour rule". It happens because, by and large, all antibiotics get concentrated in the urine - the net effect is rapid improvement for (lower) urinary tract infections. The same cannot be said, for example, about pneumonias or skin infections.
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  #14  
Old 12-16-2006, 10:14 AM
Yeah Yeah is offline
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There are a couple of things to consider here that haven't been mentioned:

The symptoms of an infection are not necessarily proportional to the number of live, infecting bacteria. For example, with whooping cough, by the time the symptoms are established, the bacteria are gone. That's why antibiotics are rarely prescribed for established cases of whooping cough. In general, symptoms are caused by the body's reaction to the bacteria (live or dead) and bacterial products, so killing off the bacteria doesn't have a rapid effect on symptoms and may have no effect on symptoms at all.

Antibiotics don't kill instantly and don't kill completely. Some bacteria are killed quickly. For example, after a single dose of ceftriaxone, it takes only a few hours before the bacteria that cause gonorrhea can no longer be cultured from a person with a genital gonorrhea infection. Other infections take longer to cure. For example, tuberculosis, leprosy, and osteomyelitis have to be treated for months.
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  #15  
Old 12-16-2006, 10:17 AM
diggleblop diggleblop is offline
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I know that azithromycin works extremely fast and very well I might add. I had strep throat and within one day I was starting to feel better after taking z pac.
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  #16  
Old 12-16-2006, 10:18 AM
Fish Cheer Fish Cheer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ParentalAdvisory
As stated above, antibiotics don't cure virual infections..., unless it was yeast that was coming out from every orifice!
I'm not sure of what you're getting at here, but of course antibiotics won't do a thing against yeast (quite the reverse, actually). Yeast is a fungus, not a bacterium.
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  #17  
Old 12-16-2006, 10:51 AM
StuffLikeThatThere StuffLikeThatThere is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KarlGauss
That may be the exception to the "24 hour rule". It happens because, by and large, all antibiotics get concentrated in the urine - the net effect is rapid improvement for (lower) urinary tract infections. The same cannot be said, for example, about pneumonias or skin infections.
Thanks for the explanation! I've always been sort of awestruck by the effects, but never bothered to find out why it acts so quickly. I was too busy being grateful that it does.
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  #18  
Old 12-16-2006, 11:43 AM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StuffLikeThatThere
Thanks for the explanation! I've always been sort of awestruck by the effects, but never bothered to find out why it acts so quickly. I was too busy being grateful that it does.
If you get put on phenazopyridine (aka pyridium) pills along with the antibiotic, you can get fast relief that way, too. It's a topical anesthetic which is concentrated in the bladder, thus numbing up the bladder and urethra (and letting you pee bright orange, too!)
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  #19  
Old 12-16-2006, 12:07 PM
indecisive1 indecisive1 is offline
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So how do antibiotics work? Meaning how do they kill off the bacteria?
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  #20  
Old 12-16-2006, 12:16 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by indecisive1
So how do antibiotics work? Meaning how do they kill off the bacteria?
Depends on the type of antibiotic.

Two general ways: Either kill the bacteria, or keep it from reproducing.

Here's a list of more details:http://www.tufts.edu/med/apua/Miscel...echanisms.html
[quote]Penicillins: Inhibits formation of the bacterial cell wall by blocking cross-linking of the cell wall structure. The cell wall is a needed protective casing for the bacterial cell.

Quinolones: Blocks DNA synthesis by inhibiting one of the enzymes (DNA gyrase) needed in this process.[quote]
etc.
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  #21  
Old 12-16-2006, 12:37 PM
indecisive1 indecisive1 is offline
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[QUOTE=Qadgop the Mercotan]Depends on the type of antibiotic.

Two general ways: Either kill the bacteria, or keep it from reproducing.

Here's a list of more details:http://www.tufts.edu/med/apua/Miscel...echanisms.html
[quote]Penicillins: Inhibits formation of the bacterial cell wall by blocking cross-linking of the cell wall structure. The cell wall is a needed protective casing for the bacterial cell.

Quinolones: Blocks DNA synthesis by inhibiting one of the enzymes (DNA gyrase) needed in this process.
Quote:
etc.
Thanks for thinking I'm smart enough to understand that link! (heh).
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  #22  
Old 12-16-2006, 01:16 PM
Yeah Yeah is offline
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All that antibiotics really need to do is to make life hard enough for the bacteria that your body's defenses get the upper hand. It is your immune system that finishes the bacteria off. (In fact, if your immune system isn't working, antibotics can't save you.)
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  #23  
Old 12-16-2006, 05:06 PM
Carnick Carnick is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ticker
Antibiotics are not at all effective for colds and flu as these are viral diseases. Antibiotics are for bacterial infections and taking them when not indicated is thought to contribute to the emergence of resistant strains. Don't do it.
I'm disabled and have a weak upper respiratory system, making me susceptible to pneumonia and bronchitis (which are bacterial infections, correct?) and the like. While I'm aware that loading myself up on antibiotics is not the best thing to do, the alternative is much worse. It's a better safe than sorry thing. I guess that's why they say no medical advice on this board

Qagpop, you say that it takes 24 hours to see clinical results, but the medicine takes affect immediately. Am I understanding this correctly? I see a lot of anecdotes about super fast acting antibiotics (I'm one of them), but they're just anecdotes so far.
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  #24  
Old 12-16-2006, 05:07 PM
Carnick Carnick is offline
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I mean Qadgop.
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  #25  
Old 12-16-2006, 05:20 PM
Carnick Carnick is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harmonious Discord
Upper respitory problems are many times baterialogical not viral, and you may have had a sinus infection or strept. I have suffered for about 35 years from nuralogical damage from a strept throut that has made it hard not to be a periah, and the symptoms alone are almost unbearable at times. A second cousin had heart damage from the strept infection that usualy accompanies the condition I got, but didn't. He never was able to do much in the way of physical activities ever. I had to refrain from many physical activities for a year, before being allowed to bicycle, run or play hard. Both conditions are pervented by antibiotics given for stepic infection immediately, so the infection doesn't damage the heart or brain.
Actually, I'm pretty sure it was strept.
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  #26  
Old 12-16-2006, 05:53 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnick
I'm disabled and have a weak upper respiratory system, making me susceptible to pneumonia and bronchitis (which are bacterial infections, correct?)
Most bronchitis, and nearly half of pneumonias are viral. There are also fungal infections that cause both.
Qagpop, you say that it takes 24 hours to see clinical results, but the medicine takes affect immediately. Am I understanding this correctly? I see a lot of anecdotes about super fast acting antibiotics (I'm one of them), but they're just anecdotes so far.[/QUOTE]
Antibiotics start their actions on bacteria pretty much as soon as they get to the bacteria. But it still takes a while for that effect to become clinically evident.
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  #27  
Old 12-16-2006, 05:53 PM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnick
Actually, I'm pretty sure it was strept.
Both the conditions are listed under rare diseases by the federal health agency. They became listed as rare in the sixties or seventies, because antiboitic but them into that clasification. Multiple childern catch them in every state every year, but it's no longer common. You run accross them in books written in the 1900's and the charactors react as if everybody's seen people with the problem. I was on antibotic untill the end of eigth grade, because I couldn't afford to get stept again. It could have been fatal. Before the eighties a lot more people died sooner than they do now, due to better medical equipment and techniques. They didn't do angioplast when I was a kid. A heart attack was usually fatal.

I know where you're coming from. I was given a cold in mid December last year, and I had bad problems until the end of February. Minor crap for others has hit me hard since July 99.

After your dose of antibiotics is done, I suggest you vist the pharmacy and get the bacteria suppliment that restores the bacteria in your stomach that the antibiotics kill.
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  #28  
Old 12-16-2006, 08:26 PM
vivalostwages vivalostwages is offline
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I was hit with what I believe to be strep throat (red and white patches in throat, swollen lymph glands, extreme pain upon swallowing) on Dec. 12. On the 14th I went to Urgent care in the evening and was prescribed amoxicillin. By the 16th I was feeling much improved and the white patches o' crap are fading away.
Perhaps I just needed the extra boost.
I should note that they did not culture the throat, so I can't be 100% sure that it is strep.
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  #29  
Old 12-16-2006, 09:06 PM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vivalostwages
I was hit with what I believe to be strep throat (red and white patches in throat, swollen lymph glands, extreme pain upon swallowing) on Dec. 12. On the 14th I went to Urgent care in the evening and was prescribed amoxicillin. By the 16th I was feeling much improved and the white patches o' crap are fading away.
Perhaps I just needed the extra boost.
I should note that they did not culture the throat, so I can't be 100% sure that it is strep.
When it gets to that point, you shouldn't wait for a test.
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  #30  
Old 12-17-2006, 09:33 AM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harmonious Discord
When it gets to that point, you shouldn't wait for a test.
Not true. See my earlier post. There was still plenty of time to wait for culture results, and start antibiotics if they were positive for strep.
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  #31  
Old 12-17-2006, 10:14 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qadgop the Mercotan
Not true. See my earlier post. There was still plenty of time to wait for culture results, and start antibiotics if they were positive for strep.
I'm sure this will never be a point we agree on, and should acknowledge that now. With my experience I can't help but to see it in a more urgent way.
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  #32  
Old 12-17-2006, 10:59 AM
Malienation Malienation is offline
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Had strep throat about 4 months ago. Throat wasscreaming for mercy. Amoxicillin started working in only a few hours...whew. They have 2 tests for strep, on that takes only 5 min. and one that takes something like 24 or 48 hours. If the 5 min. test says you got strep, you got strep; if it says you don't, you have to wait for the other test's results (unless the doctor thinks that's too risky).

Hate to bash immigrants here, but a lot of the bacterial acclimation to antibiotics is due to the fact that in many Latin American countries, antibiotics are purchasable OTC. As a result, people take them for everything, thus lessening their effectiveness when they genuinely are needed.
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  #33  
Old 12-17-2006, 01:14 PM
vivalostwages vivalostwages is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malienation
Had strep throat about 4 months ago. Throat wasscreaming for mercy. Amoxicillin started working in only a few hours...whew. They have 2 tests for strep, on that takes only 5 min. and one that takes something like 24 or 48 hours. If the 5 min. test says you got strep, you got strep; if it says you don't, you have to wait for the other test's results (unless the doctor thinks that's too risky).

snip
My throat was screaming as well. I couldn't get any sleep, and I was not going to wait any longer.
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