MedicationA Formidable Defender

Your natural defense against bacteria is a phagocytic response. Cells in your body engulf a pathogen, basically eat it and remove the injured tissue. Many times your body needs help from medication that can kill microbials. These are called antimicrobials. An antimicrobial is a medication that kills a microorganism. There are many types of antimicrobials. Each is designed to kill specific microorganisms. The most familiar is an antibiotic, which kills bacteria. Antibiotics kill microbials—the good and the bad. For example, an antibiotic used to kill bacteria that causes a urinary tract infection will also kill the flora in your intestine that are used to help digest food.

Patients are also treated with medication that eases the symptoms of inflammation but doesn't kill microbials. These are prostaglandin inhibitors.

Prostaglandins are chemical mediators that bring about the inflammatory response by vasodilatation, relaxing smooth muscle, making capillaries permeable, and sensitizing nerve cells within the affected area to pain. A prostaglandin inhibitor reduces the production of prostaglandins and thereby reduces the symptoms of inflammation.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are aspirin and "aspirin-like drugs." Aspirin is the most commonly used prostaglandin inhibitor because it is an analgesic to relieve pain. It is also an antipyretic to lower body temperature and it is an anticoagulant that inhibits the formation of platelets.

Other nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are also prostaglandin inhibitors. Other NSAIDs require a lower dose than aspirin to have the same analgesic effect. However, most NSAIDs have a lower anti-inflammatory effect than aspirin.

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