List of Common Antibiotics & Types

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Last Updated On :
  • 14/05/2024

Antibiotics are powerful medicines that are used to treat various bacterial infections. There are many different types of antibiotics, each with its unique properties and uses. Some antibiotics are broad-spectrum, meaning they can target a wide range of bacteria, while others are more specific and only target certain types of bacteria.

This blog provides an overview of some of the most prescribed antibiotics, including their types, uses, and potential side effects. Whether you are a healthcare professional or a patient seeking more information on antibiotics, this guide will help you understand the basics of antibiotic therapy.

But before that, you must be aware that as a responsible individual, you must buy health insurance online to protect yourself and your loved ones. There are several benefits of health insurance, which you may or may not be aware of. However, the most common benefit is the fact that it will keep your savings safe during any kind of medical emergency while allowing you to access quality healthcare.

Now, let us learn more about the most common antibiotics that doctors often prescribe us during common health conditions.

What is an Antibiotic?

To make it easier for you to understand, an antibiotic is like a tiny superhero that battles evil bacteria invading our bodies. It is a medicine that targets harmful bacteria but leaves our healthy cells alone.

Antibiotics come in different forms, like pills, injections, or creams, and work by disrupting the bacteria's ability to grow and reproduce. Antibiotics have saved countless lives and revolutionised modern medicine, but it's important to use them wisely and only when necessary to prevent the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) are two concepts used to describe how antibiotics function. The lowest concentration of an antibiotic that still prevents bacterial growth after 24 hours is known as the minimum inhibitory concentration. The antibiotic's minimum bactericidal concentration is the level at which it can reduce bacterial density by a thousand times in 24 hours.

But it does not mean you can take an antibiotic dosage whenever you feel a little sick. You need to consult a doctor and get the right diagnosis before they prescribe you the right antibiotic for your health condition.

How to Take Antibiotics?

Bacterial infections are frequently treated with antibiotics. Self-prescription of antibiotics is not advised, and the course should be completed even if you start feeling better after taking one or two pills. A large variety of bacterial illnesses cannot be treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics. For each sort of infection, there is a particular antibiotic.

When Not to Take Antibiotics?

If your condition has not improved after taking the recommended medication, see a doctor. Depending on what you are suffering from, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic course.

During the monsoon season, flu illnesses are frequent, and there is a danger that you can catch a particularly contagious virus. Thus, immediately consult your doctor if you become ill.

Viral infections cannot be treated with antibiotics. As a result, when you take such medications, the germs may develop a resistance to them. Bacterial species that develop resistance will not respond to such medications. Antibiotics also have side effects that can be quite severe. Thus, taking antibiotics as directed by a doctor is advised.

Now, let’s move onto the list of the most common types of antibiotics worldwide, as learning about all types of antibiotics isn’t possible in one go.

Common Types of Antibiotics

Here is a simple list of common antibiotics:

- Penicillin

A class of antibiotics known as penicillin is frequently employed to treat bacterial infections. They function by limiting the development of bacterial cell walls, which inhibits the growth of bacteria. Penicillin works well against a variety of bacterial illnesses, including skin infections, pneumonia, and strep throat. But over time, some bacteria have developed a resistance to penicillin.

Several gram-negative bacteria have developed penicillin resistance. Hence, gentamicin or streptomycin is added to penicillin. Penicillin's latest iterations are now broad-spectrum and efficient against gram-negative bacteria.

- Tetracyclines

Tetracyclines are a group of broad-spectrum antibiotics that attach to the bacterial ribosome and prevent bacteria from synthesising proteins. They are used to treat several infections, including those that affect the skin, urinary tract, and respiratory systems. Tetracyclines can have negative side effects such as photosensitivity and gastrointestinal discomfort.

Tetracyclines are frequently administered through the oral route. There are intramuscular and intravenous delivery methods, too. Here is a list of tetracyclines' most common uses.

  • To avoid contracting malaria.

  • For treating anthrax.

  • For treating the infections of the eyes, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory system, and specific skin infections.

  • For stimulating animal growth.

- Cephalosporin

A class of antibiotics known as cephalosporins is frequently used to treat bacterial infections. They function by interfering with creating the bacteria's cell wall, which kills the germs. Cephalosporins are divided into several generations based on their chemical makeup and antibacterial action.

While later generations of cephalosporins have a wider range of activity against Gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, first-generation cephalosporins are only effective against Gram-positive bacteria.

Cephalosporins are frequently used to treat infections like pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and skin infections. They can be taken orally, intravenously, or intramuscularly.

- Quinolones

Quinolones are a group of antibiotics that work against DNA replication in bacteria to stop them from multiplying and growing. They treat various bacterial infections, including respiratory, gastrointestinal, and urinary tract infections. Quinolones are bactericidal, killing the bacteria instead of just preventing their growth.

Because of their broad-spectrum efficacy, excellent oral absorption, and minimal toxicity are frequently chosen over other antibiotics. Yet, their use can potentially increase antibiotic resistance and have negative effects such as tendinitis and tendon rupture.

- Lincomycin

A class of antibiotics known as lincomycin is frequently prescribed to treat bacterial infections. By stopping bacterial protein synthesis, they stop the bacteria from proliferating and wreaking more havoc on the body. Various gram-positive bacteria, such as the Streptococcus and Staphylococcus species, are susceptible to the effects of lincomycin. They do, however, often work less well against gram-negative bacteria.

The adverse side effects of lincomycin include diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting. Some people may also experience allergic reactions from them. Lincomycin is normally given orally or intravenously, and to boost its efficacy, it is frequently combined with other antibiotics.

- Macrolides

Macrolides work by inhibiting bacterial protein synthesis, preventing the bacteria from growing and multiplying. Macrolides are often used to treat respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia, bronchitis, sinusitis, and skin and soft tissue infections.

Examples of macrolides include erythromycin, azithromycin, and clarithromycin. They are generally well-tolerated, with common side effects, including gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Macrolides can also interact with other medications, so discussing all medications and medical history with a healthcare provider before starting treatment is important.

- Dicloxacillin

Dicloxacillin is an antibiotic medication used to treat bacterial infections caused by susceptible strains of Staphylococcus aureus, including methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA). It belongs to the class of drugs called penicillinase-resistant penicillin. An enzyme does not easily break it down; some bacteria produce that can render other penicillin ineffective.

Dicloxacillin works by interfering with bacterial cell wall synthesis, ultimately leading to the death of the bacteria. It is available in both oral capsule and injectable forms and is generally well-tolerated, although some common side effects may include gastrointestinal symptoms and allergic reactions.

- Penicillin V and G

Penicillin V and G are antibiotics that belong to the beta-lactam family. They treat bacterial infections, such as strep throat and pneumonia. Penicillin G is typically administered via injection, while Penicillin V can be taken orally.

Both antibiotics work by interfering with bacterial cell wall synthesis, ultimately leading to the death of the bacteria. Penicillin G has a shorter life and is more susceptible to degradation by gastric acid, whereas Penicillin V has better oral bioavailability and a longer life. However, both drugs have similar efficacy against susceptible bacteria.

- Nafcillin

Nafcillin is a narrow-spectrum antibiotic of the penicillin class used to treat bacterial infections caused by gram-positive bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus. It works by inhibiting bacterial cell wall synthesis, preventing the growth and reproduction of the bacteria.

Nafcillin is not effective against gram-negative bacteria or anaerobic organisms. It is available in both oral and injectable forms, and the dosage and duration of treatment depend on the severity of the infection and the patient's age and overall health.

Common side effects include diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, and allergic reactions, and it should not be used in patients with a history of penicillin allergy.

- Oxacillin

Oxacillin is a narrow-spectrum antibiotic that belongs to the penicillin family of drugs. It works by inhibiting the synthesis of bacterial cell walls, leading to the death of susceptible bacteria. Oxacillin is commonly used to treat infections caused by bacteria that are resistant to other penicillin, such as Staphylococcus aureus.

It is usually administered orally or via injection and has a short half-life. Common side effects of oxacillin include diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, and rash. Oxacillin should not be used by individuals allergic to penicillin or cephalosporin antibiotics.

So, this was a list of different types of antibiotics that are generally prescribed by doctors.


Under certain conditions, antibiotics are essential medications that have revolutionised the field of medicine. Some main types of antibiotics include penicillin, amoxicillin, azithromycin, and cephalexin. While antibiotics are generally safe and effective, their overuse can lead to antibiotic resistance, rendering these medications ineffective.

Therefore, it is crucial to use antibiotics only when necessary and as prescribed by a healthcare provider.

And if you wish to stay protected financially during sudden illnesses, get a medical insurance plan from Tata AIG. Our health policies offer comprehensive coverage, flexible options, and cashless hospitalisation. We also have a wide network of hospitals and provide easy claim settlement, which makes your health insurance plan even more comprehensive.

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