The Balancing Act Between Bacteria and the Use of Antibiotics

Antibiotics are powerful medications but their effectiveness is compromised when used inappropriately. Responsible use of such drugs is crucial to addressing the challenges associated with antibiotic resistance.
By the team at Speedoc,
December 04, 2023

When we hear the word “bacteria”, we immediately think of the disease-causing microorganism that can only be treated with antibiotics. However, did you know that most bacteria are harmless? Hence, making the relationship between bacteria, antibiotics, and humans a little more complex than we think. Understanding the impacts bacteria have on humans is crucial for the development and responsible use of antibiotics.

Bacteria vs Human

Bacteria can be considered a double-edged sword as they can be both beneficial and harmful.   On one hand, they play a vital role in bodily functions, contributing to essential health processes. On the other hand, certain bacterial types are classified as pathogens and can cause a wide range of infections, from mild illnesses to severe and life-threatening conditions.



  • Promote gastrointestinal health that helps with digestion and absorption of nutrients

  • Stimulate and regulate the immune system to enhance defence rates against  similar pathogens

  • Synthesise vitamins that are beneficial to bone health, blood clotting and metabolism 

  • Beneficial bacteria in the body can prevent harmful bacteria from colonising

  • Trigger infections and cause diseases

  • Increase risks of tooth decay and gum diseases

  • Give rise to  overactive inflammatory responses leading to autoimmune conditions where the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues

  • Formation of biofilms that endures the biofilm-associated infections 

While the majority of bacterias are non-harmful to humans, harmful ones still exist and they pose health risks at varying levels. Examples range from Staphylococcal infections affecting the skin to E. coli infections, which can easily trigger food poisoning or even pneumonia. Fortunately, antibiotics were discovered and continuously developed over the past century to effectively treat bacterial infections.

Understanding Antibiotics

Antibiotics are medicines designed to combat bacterial infections in humans and animals by inhibiting proliferation of bacteria. While antibiotics are often potent, they are never a one-size-fits-all solution for all illnesses. 

Do keep the following points in mind before using antibiotics:

  • Antibiotics treat bacterial infection, not viral infection. Therefore, antibiotics cannot help with conditions like cold or flu.

  • The human immune system is generally strong enough to fight against mild bacterial infections. Sinus and ear infections can usually resolve on their own over a short period of time without the use of antibiotics.

  • Antibiotics are rarely used for disease prevention, unless prescribed by medical professionals in specific circumstances. Excessive or inappropriate use of antibiotics could stimulate antibiotic resistance as bacteria evolve to adapt and become less responsive to the medication.

Appropriate Use of Antibiotics  

When bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics, treating infections can become significantly challenging, as the medicines may no longer be effective. Consequently, patients could suffer from prolonged sickness, exposing themselves to greater health risk of more severe conditions. To prevent the development of antibiotic resistance, careful and appropriate antibiotic usage is crucial. Therefore, it is safest to seek advice from a medical professional before taking antibiotics. 

Speedoc doctors are all Singapore-licensed and registered with the Singapore Medical Council (SMC). Feel free to reach out for personalised assistance regarding your health concerns.

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