Classes of Antimicrobials
Antimicrobials are substances that are designed to inhibit or kill microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa. There are several classes of antimicrobials, each with unique mechanisms of action and spectrum of activity. Some of the main classes of antimicrobials are:
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics are substances that are naturally produced by microorganisms or synthesized in the laboratory. They are used to treat bacterial infections by inhibiting bacterial growth or killing the bacteria. Antibiotics can be classified based on their mechanism of action, such as cell wall synthesis inhibitors (penicillins, cephalosporins), protein synthesis inhibitors (tetracyclines, macrolides), DNA synthesis inhibitors (quinolones), and folate synthesis inhibitors (sulfonamides).
- Antivirals: Antivirals are substances that are used to treat viral infections by inhibiting the replication of viruses. They can be classified based on their mechanism of action, such as nucleoside/nucleotide analogs (acyclovir, ganciclovir), protease inhibitors (ritonavir), and fusion inhibitors (enfuvirtide).
- Antifungals: Antifungals are substances that are used to treat fungal infections by inhibiting fungal growth or killing the fungi. They can be classified based on their mechanism of action, such as cell membrane disruptors (amphotericin B), ergosterol synthesis inhibitors (azoles), and nucleic acid synthesis inhibitors (flucytosine).
- Antiparasitics: Antiparasitics are substances that are used to treat parasitic infections by inhibiting the growth or killing the parasites. They can be classified based on the type of parasite they target, such as protozoa (metronidazole) or helminths (mebendazole).
- Antiseptics and disinfectants: Antiseptics and disinfectants are substances that are used to kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms on surfaces or living tissues. They can be classified based on their mechanism of action, such as oxidizing agents (hydrogen peroxide), halogens (iodine), and quaternary ammonium compounds (benzalkonium chloride).
It’s important to note that the use of antimicrobials should be guided by proper diagnosis and prescription by a qualified healthcare provider, as the misuse or overuse of antimicrobials can lead to the development of antimicrobial resistance, which is a serious public health threat.