Metronidazole is a commonly used antibiotic for managing a number of different medical conditions. It is available on the market with the trade name Flagyl. It is available in a number of different forms such as tablets, creams and gels, with each of these being used for particular conditions. In this article, we shall take a brief look at metronidazole and its general applications.
What is metronidazole?
Metronidazole is an antibiotic that is used to treat infections caused by anaerobic bacteria or protozoa. These infections often occur in the mouth, gastrointestinal tract, genital tract and even the bones. It is often used to prevent post-operative infections as well. Of course, it's applications a lot wider than what has been listed here.
How does metronidazole act?
Metronidazole is produced through a complex chemical process. Once ingested, the drug is absorbed through the bowel into the bloodstream. When in the bloodstream, it is taken up by anaerobic bacteria and protozoa where it breaks down a number of different products and deactivates enzymes that promote the harmful effects of these organisms. In addition, the breakdown products of metronidazole can act on the bacteria DNA and can utilise them.
In simple terms, metronidazole deactivates the essential phenomenon required for anaerobic bacteria and protozoa to exert their harmful effects. This eventually results in destruction of these organisms.
When is metronidazole used?
Metronidazole has a number of different clinical applications but is most often used to treat anaerobic bacterial infections and infections that occur due to protozoa. Common conditions treated include amoebiasis, Giardiasis, aspiration pneumonia, meningitis, pseudomembranous colitis due to Clostridium difficile, diverticulitis, pelvic inflammatory disease and bacterial vaginosis. It is also a part of combination treatments that are offered for clinical conditions such as Helicobacter pylori infection. Its application is mostly in abdominal infections along with skin and soft tissue infections though it can also be used for other clinical conditions as long as the blood culture results demonstrate the presence of a bacteria or protozoa that will respond to this treatment.
The dosage of metronidazole varies and is available in 250 mg and 500 mg tablets. Intravenous forms of the drug are also available and these are usually prescribed according to body weight. This is to ensure that accurate doses of the drug are administered and accidental overdoses do not occur.
The use of metronidazole is not just limited to humans. It is also utilised in treating animals such as dogs and cats suffering from infection by Giardia. Doses are prescribed as per body weight or sometimes given as oral medication.
Side-effects of metronidazole
Despite its beneficial effects, metronidazole does have certain side-effects that one must be aware of. Common side-effects include loss of appetite, metallic taste in the mouth and dry mouth. Some patients tend to develop constipation as well. One particular side-effect that every patient must be aware of is that metronidazole can interact with alcohol and can cause what is called a Disulfiram-like effect. This results in patients feeling acutely unwell and can cause nausea and vomiting.
Metronidazole is a popular antibacterial and anti-protozoal drug that is used in treating a variety of clinical conditions. Once prescribed by a doctor, it should be taken in the recommended dose to exert its maximum effect. Side-effects are few but in most cases these are nothing much to worry about if the benefits of the drug outweigh the risks.