Home > Medical > Meds and you > Antibiotics Antibiotics All sections in Meds and You » Antibiotics » Generics » Inside the Lab » Medication » News » Using Medicines What is an antibiotic? Put simply, antibiotics are drugs that either kill bacteria or stop them multiplying. When were antibiotics first used? The concept of using chemicals to kill bacteria (and thus treat infections) has been around for centuries. How does an antibiotic work? This section describes the basic structure of bacteria and how antibiotics work. Ask Addictions Expert » Test Using the wrong pills? » Quiz Addicted to pills? » Join Body Talk » Medical history Medicines that changed history Aminoglycosides These antibiotics have been around for many years. The first aminoglycoside, streptomycin, was first discovered in the 1940’s, and was the first agent used to treat tuberculosis. When should or shouldn’t I take an antibiotic? Antibiotics should be used if you have a bacterial infection. Unfortunately, antibiotics are often prescribed unnecessarily. Do not use antibiotics unnecessarily There are a few reasons why you shouldn’t take antibiotics unnecessarily. Macrolides Newer macrolides have been introduced relatively recently. Erythromycin was probably the first such agent, and the newer ones include azithromycin and clarithromycin. Glycopeptides The first glycopeptide, vancomycin, was isolated from the organism Streptomyces in the mid-1950s. Sulphur drugs Sulphur and sulphur containing compounds are one of the one oldest antimicrobial substances in clinical use. Quinolones The quinolones are a newer class of antibiotic. load more articles advertisement From our sponsors Your retirement - a healthy mindset So many people, why so alone? You can still enjoy the sweet things in life Take the sugar test, it could save your life.