Its still complicated but I am trying to explain some basic concepts for the lay person.
Antibiotics only kill germs called bacteria. Germ is not a medical term but a colloquial substitute for pathogen, a microorganism of one sort or another that causes human illness.
Disease causing germs are representatives of various families in the animal kingdom of microbes, including: bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeast, protozoans and worms .
With few exceptions, antibiotics kill only bacteria so that is what we will discuss.
Bacteria are one cells prokaryotic microbes, so named because they lack an organized nucleus.
Please keep in mind that the vast, vast majority of bacteria are friendly or harmless, including the 2-6 pounds of normal “flora” we carry around, necessary for immune functions and detoxification.
Bacteria present as a menagerie of forms and shapes: comma, spiral (spirochete), cocci (round), rod (elongated), chains, grape-like groupings, filamentous etc.
THE SHAPE OF A BACTERIA DOES NOT DETERMINE WHETHER IT IS A PATHOGEN, A GERM. ONE SPIROCHETE MAY BE NORMAL FLORA, HARMLESS, AND ANOTHER MAY BE LYME.
Families of antibiotics may contain similar members. Members of the same family may perform different.
In general, specific antibiotics target bacterial germs which possess certain characteristics.
For example, an antibiotic may target bacteria with cell walls constructed somewhat differently -- gram negative or gram positive. Antibiotics may target gram positive bacteria, gram negative or others such as intracellular bacteria etc.
Intracellular bacteria may only survive in host cells: some have no cell wall e.g. mycoplasma.
Bacteria (think Lyme) may lack a cell wall but rather have a double outer membrane.
Antibiotic classes include penicillins and cephalosporins which are considered cousins because both share a ring structure (beta lactam). The drugs are divided into generations. First generation, second and third.
With progressive generation more types of bacteria are killed (broad spectrum versus narrow spectrum.
Antibiotic classes include tetracycline, macrolide, sulfa, rifamycin, quinolone, antiparasitic, e.g. (Flagyl (nitroimidazole) etc.
We use principals of pharmacology to decide which antibiotic(s) to use for a particular infection. Deciding factors may include the severity and location of the infection.
We consider MIC, minimal inhibitory concentration and MBC, minimal bactericidal concentration. This means the amount of antibiotic to inhibit growth or to kill the bacteria.
We must consider the risk of side effects and complications, like C. diff colitis.
We have to make sure the antibiotic can get to the source of trouble, for example the brain, with ability to transverse the special BBB) blood brain barrier.
There are a lot of very complex factors that influence antibiotic decision making.
Treating chronic Lyme disease is a vary complex process. As with a patient I saw this afternoon, Lyme triggered a cascade of problems, including: dysautonomia (POTS), MCAS, mast cell activation syndrome.
She also suffers with a very stubborn case of babesiosis.
There are a lot of balls in the air to juggle.
A recent live Facebook event was successful.
I hope we will soon cut through some of the confusion.
I will be scheduling another live Facebook presentation: Treating Lyme with Q&A in the near future. My Facebook coordinator Brittany Goff will be setting this up.