Antibiotics are an effective treatment for many sexually transmitted diseases. They work by eliminating the pathogens that cause these infections.
Antibiotics are an excellent treatment option for all bacterial sexually transmitted diseases. There are multiple types of antibiotics available for the treatment of different STDs. The antibiotic choice depends on the type of STD, the general resistance of microbes against these antibiotics, and the patient's allergic status toward these medications. Unlike viral STDs, bacterial STDs can be treated and cured using appropriate antibiotic medication. The time these antibiotics need to be taken depends on the type of bacterial STD.
While antibiotics are successful in treating bacterial and parasitic STDs, they play little to no role in treating viral STDs. Here are some of the most common bacterial STDs and the time it takes for antibiotics to cure them.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR ANTIBIOTICS TO CURE STDS?
Antibiotics are a class of medications that stop bacterial growth in one way or another. Different antibiotics perform this task in different ways.
The time it takes for antibiotics to work and eventually cure STDs usually depends on the type of STD and the type of antibiotic used. However, a simple course of antibiotics for 7-14 days is enough to cure bacterial STDs. Sometimes, a single dose of a single antibiotic is also enough to cure an STD completely.
Some of the most common STDs which can be cured with antibacterial drugs include gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and syphilis.
Gonorrhea is one of the most common bacterial STDs. This disease affects both men and women. Like any other bacterial STD, there is a definitive cure available for this disease.
Ceftriaxone is the most common and effective treatment available for the treatment of gonorrhea, though others exist. Ceftriaxone is a third-generation cephalosporin antibiotic. A single dose of ceftriaxone given intramuscularly (into a muscle) is enough to cure this disease completely. However, the symptoms may take up to 1 week to completely disappear.
Chlamydia is another common STD that affects both men and women.
Doxycycline, a tetracycline antibiotic, is the most common treatment option for chlamydia. Doxycycline is taken every day in two divided doses. The time it takes for doxycycline to cure chlamydia is about 1 week.
Alternatively, azithromycin is a valid treatment option for people allergic to doxycycline. Azithromycin can also be used in cases where doxycycline resistance is a problem.
The time it takes for azithromycin to treat chlamydia is about 3 days. A loading dose of 500mg azithromycin is given, followed by one single dose each for the next two days.
Syphilis is caused by a bacteria known as treponema pallidum.
The class of antibiotic that is most effective against this bacteria is penicillin. Long-acting penicillin, specifically benzathine penicillin, like penicillin G, can provide a complete cure with a single dose.
Treatment duration for primary, secondary, and early-stage latent syphilis is one day, as only a single dose of penicillin G is required for a full cure.
The CDC recommends at least 3 doses of penicillin G for late latent syphilis.
Trichomoniasis is a parasitic STD that can be cured with metronidazole.
Treatment for trichomoniasis in women lasts about 7 days. Metronidazole 500mg oral dose is taken twice daily for 7 days for full cure.
Treating trichomoniasis in men is only a single dose of 2gm metronidazole taken orally.
Alternatively, both men and women can take tinidazole 2gm orally in a single dose for a complete cure.
HOW DO ANTIBIOTICS WORK?
As mentioned above, multiple antibiotic classes exist, each with a different mechanism of action. Some of the most common antibiotic classes are listed below:
Out of all these antibiotic classes, the most commonly used for STD treatment are penicillin, cephalosporin, and tetracycline antibiotics.
Penicillin antibiotics work by disrupting the cell wall of bacteria. They perform this action by binding to the B-lactam ring in the bacterial cell wall, which introduces structural weaknesses in the cell wall. The result is an unstable cell wall that bursts, ultimately killing the bacteria.
Cephalosporin antibiotics are similar in their mechanism of action to penicillin antibiotics. They also disrupt the structural integrity of the bacterial cell wall and cause it to burst eventually.
Tetracycline antibiotics can diffuse passively through the cell wall. Their main action is on the protein synthesis mechanism of the bacteria. This is also why this class of antibiotic drugs is referred to as protein synthesis inhibitors.
Macrolide antibiotics also interfere with the protein synthesis apparatus of the bacteria by targeting their ribosomal activity.
Quinolone antibiotics can also diffuse into the bacteria and disrupt its vital functions. These antibiotics mainly target the DNA synthesis ability of the bacteria and stop it from repairing itself, growing, and multiplying.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF USING ANTIBIOTICS?
While antibiotics are useful drugs, they also have many side effects. Taking antibiotics always involves a little risk which is weighed against the benefits these drugs provide. Taking antibiotics without any reason puts you at risk of developing complications for no reason at all.
Antibiotics generally have two types of side effects: general and class-specific. General side effects of antibiotics include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Antibiotic-associated diarrhea is usually due to a bacteria called C. difficile. Antibiotic use eliminates most of the good bacteria in the gut, which helps protect against pathogens like C. difficile. When most of the good bacteria in the gut are removed, this pathogen can take over and cause bloody diarrhea.
You can also get allergic reactions from almost all types of antibiotics. These allergic reactions can range from mild reactions, such as rash, to more severe reactions, such as anaphylactic reactions.
If you develop urticaria (raised, itchy skin), wheezing, shortness of breath, or tightness in the chest or throat, it may be possible that you are experiencing an allergic reaction. All these symptoms are a clear indication to stop the medication and to see your doctor immediately.
Penicillin antibiotics are notorious for allergic reactions, especially in Caucasians.
Some of the class-specific side effects of antibiotics are explained below:
Tetracycline antibiotics have a common side effect that makes people more sensitive to light. This is known as photosensitivity, which can cause skin reactions in people taking this medication. Photosensitivity can cause skin reactions even with artificial light sources, such as sun lamps and tanning beds.
Fluoroquinolone antibiotics can cause severe muscle and tendon injury, which leads to unbearable chronic pain. These antibiotics can also affect joints. It is advised that you see your healthcare provider at the earliest signs of any muscle or tendon injury when taking these medications.
Fluoroquinolone antibiotics can also cause serious problems in people at risk for heart valve disease. See your doctor immediately if your ankles swell or you experience shortness of breath when taking these medications.