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Antibiotic: A drug capable of killing organisms, particularly bacteria. It is derived from living organisms such as fungi or other bacteria. Penicillin was the first such antibiotic.
Several strains of bacteria have developed immunity and resist antibiotic treatments - particularly in people have treatment too frequently. It"s estimated that 20% of infections contracted in hospitals fail to respond to antibiotic treatment, and in the U.S.A. alone more than 100,000 people die each year from such infections. Much of this is due to doctors, who over many years have prescribed antibiotics indiscriminately.
Since antibiotics are unable to distinguish between micro-organisms, they kill the "friendly" intestinal bacteria (flora) needed for food absorption along with the pathogenic bacteria. One of the results of this has been a proliferation of vaginal yeast infections in women who have been prescribed tetracyclines. Eating "live" yoghurt is a way of restoring this balance.
Antibiotics can also neutralise the effects of the contraceptive pill.
Research published in June 2003 has suggested, rather alarmingly, that the antibiotics given to animals might actually combine with bacteria (such as E-Coli) in the human body, and give them resistance against later antibiotics given to treat a suffering patent .