How do antibiotics work to kill bacteria?
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on April 3, 2023.
Antibiotics work by interfering with the bacterial cell wall to prevent growth and replication of the bacteria. Human cells do not have cell walls, but many types of bacteria do, and so antibiotics can target bacteria without harming human cells.
Antibiotics are either bactericidal (they kill the bacteria) or bacteriostatic (they keep the bacteria from reproducing and growing).
Antibiotics have no action on viruses that are the cause of the common cold, the flu, and many coughs, so they are not effective against these types of illnesses.
Related medical questions
- What is the best antibiotic to treat a sinus infection?
- Should you take probiotics with antibiotics?
- Can you have a vaginal yeast infection if you have no uterus?
- Can antibiotics cause yeast infections?
- What are the common side effects of antibiotics?
- Can you drink alcohol with amoxicillin?
- What's the difference between Bacteria and Viruses?
- Does azithromycin cure chlamydia: How much / how long?
- Monistat-1: white discharge and burning, is this normal?
- If I am allergic to penicillin, is it safe to use amoxicillin?
- What is the best way to reduce swelling in your face?
Related support groups
- Infections (580 questions, 967 members)
- Bacterial Infection (124 questions, 271 members)