Penicillin is used in the treatment of bacterial infections occurring in different parts of the body. It either kills the bacteria or prevents their growth. Various kinds of penicillin exist depending on the infection it is used to treat, and one kind of penicillin may not substitute another type. Sometimes, penicillin may be given with other antibiotics by your doctor.
What Does Penicillin Treat?
Penicillins are a group of antibacterial medicines which can be taken orally or injected; it takes effects on the following conditions:
- Infections of the middle ear: including infection due to streptococcus and S. pneumonia
- Infections of the skin: including infection due to staphylococcus aureus and group A streptococcus
- Acute infections of the sinus, throat or nose: including strep throat and tonsillitis
- Mouth and gum infections: including trench mouth and infection prevention followed by tooth extraction
- Upper respiratory Infections: including infections caused by streptococcus and streptococcus
- Anthrax after exposure: including spinal cord or brain infection, and pneumonia
- Scarlet fever and rheumatic fever
- Non-contagious disease caused by actinomyces bacteria
- Bacteria anaerobes infection
- Lyme disease
- Infection by streptococcus in sickle cell disease
How Does Penicillin Work?
Penicillin works by exploding the cells walls of the bacteria. An important component of the bacterial walls, peptidoglycan increases the strength of the bacterial walls and prevents the entrance of external fluids and other particles. During bacterial cell multiplication, small holes are opened up in the bacterial walls. Peptidoglycan is newly produced and backfills these holes in the walls thereby reconstructing them. However, this process is prevented when penicillin is in the vicinity. The protein struts linking the peptidoglycans in the bacterial wall are inhibited by penicillin. Due to this, a process called transpeptidation, which is necessary to close the hole, is prevented. The water from the external environment enters into the bacterium due to the difference in osmotic pressure between the outside fluid and the inside of the bacterium thereby exploding it.
What You Should Know Before Using
After realizing “what does penicillin treat?” you should also have some ideas about the precautions of penicillin before you take it.
You should inform your physician if you have had any allergic reaction to penicillin. Your physician should also be informed if you have had any other type of allergy such as allergy to preservatives, food dyes or animals.
Many types of penicillin have been prescribed in children and, in appropriate doses, do not produce any different adverse effects in children than they produce in adults. Aspartame is present in some strengths of chewable amoxicillin and is changed to phenylalanine by the body. Phenylalanine is harmful for patients suffering from phenylketonuria.
No studies have been done on pregnant females for penicillins. They have been extensively used in pregnant females and have not found to cause fetal defects in animal studies. However, it is only recommended to use when the benefit outweighs the risk.
4. Drug Interaction
Penicillin has been found to interact with many different medicines including pixaban, bupropion, axitinib, clarithromycin, chlortetracycline, clozapine, daclatasvir, cyclosporine, darunavir, donepezil, demeclocycline, doxorubicin, doxycycline, doxorubicin hydrochloride liposome, eliglustat, lymecycline, ivabradine, meclocycline, methotrexate, methacycline, minocycline, olaparib, nifedipine, oxytetracycline, piperaquine, palbociclib, rolitetracycline, tetracycline, simeprevir, vecuronium, warfarin, venlafaxine.
Individuals who are given penicillin should inform their physician about all other medications they are taking. When an interaction between drugs occurs, either the effects of the drugs change or the risk of adverse effects is increased.
How to Take the Medicine Properly?
Apart from knowing what does penicillin treat, it is important to also know how to use this medicine properly?
For patients who take amoxicillin, pivampicillin, penicillin V and pivmecillinam:
- They can be ingested either on a full or on an empty stomach.
- Liquid amoxicillin can either be mixed with milk, formulas, water, fruit juice, ginger ale or other cold drinks or be taken by itself. However, it should be taken immediately after mixing with other liquids. Also, all the liquid should be ingested to get the full dose.
For patients who take bacampicillin:
- Tablet form of bacampicillin can be ingested either on a full or on an empty stomach.
- Liquid bacampicillin is best ingested with 8 ounces (full glass) of water on an empty stomach.
For patients who take penicillin G:
- It is recommended to avoid drinking acidic fruit juices such as grapefruit or orange juice or other acidic drinks within an hour of ingesting penicillin G as this may hinder the proper working of the medicine.
For patients who take liquid penicillin orally:
- The medicine, even if it is packed in a dropper bottle should be taken orally. If the medicine is not packed in a dropper bottle, it is recommended to use a specially marked spoon for measuring so each dose can be measured accurately.
Warning: Do not use the medicine after the date of expiry as it may not have proper effect after that date.
The Side Effect of Penicillin
Apart from the beneficial effects, a drug may cause some adverse effects too. Although all of the adverse effects of a drug may not occur, they may require medical attention if they do appear. You should seek emergency help at once and stop taking the concerned medicine if any of the below mentioned adverse effects appear:
Common side effects of penicillin include:
- Vaginal discharge and itching
- Soreness of the tongue and mouth, sometimes with occurrence of white patches
- Loose stools
Other less common side effects could include:
- Irregular breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain in joints
- Sudden lightheadedness and loss of consciousness
- Redness and puffiness of face
- Hives and rashes
- Red, scaly skin
Rarely-seen side effect may include:
- Confusion, fear or anxiety
- Fear of impending death
- Yellow skin and eyes
- Decreased urination
- Unusual bleeding
- Abdominal spasms, cramps, pain or tenderness
- Vomiting and nausea