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What are antibiotics?

Most infectious diseases are caused by bacteria. Infections caused by bacteria can be prevented and treated through an anti-bacterial group of compounds known as antibiotics.

Antibiotics are substances that are produced by bacterial sources (microorganisms) that fight infections by either killing the bacteria outright or by slowing down the growth or development of bacterial cells.

Antibiotics came into widespread use during the 1940's. At that time, they were called “wonder drugs,” because they cured many deadly diseases.

How does anesthesia work?

Anesthesia is the use of medicine to prevent the feeling of pain or any other sensation during a medical procedure that might be painful or distressful. The sensation of physical feeling occurs when a nerve is activated and passes the signal, through a network of additional nerves, to the brain. But if the nerve does not become activated, or if the signal is blocked before it reaches the brain, the person will not feel anything.

Besides relieving pain, anesthesia can also be used for other reasons, including togive a patient amnesia (loss of memory) to block his memoryof the procedure or how it felt; to reduce nervousness, or to paralyze muscles.

What is a vaccination and how does it work? 

Vaccination builds up your resistance, or immunity, to a disease. It helps to protect you against an infectious disease by exposing you to a mild, killed, or altered version of the germ, in order to make your body build up protection in the form of antibodies. An antibody is a protein produced by the body's immune system when it detects harmful substances, called antigens. Examples of antigens include bacteria and viruses.

Vaccinations are from the most important discoveries in medical history. Without vaccinations, millions of people of all ages would contract serious diseases, which would lead to long-lasting harmful effects or even death.

Question of the Month:

This month’s question was submitted by Leon of Long Branch, NJ.

Dear Professor, Is there a cure for the common cold?

Dear Leon, There are methods for preventing colds and for treating colds; however, despite all the advances in medical science, there is still no cure for the common cold.