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What Is an Aminoglycoside?

Rebecca Mecomber
Rebecca Mecomber

An aminoglycoside is an antibiotic. Antibiotics are substances that combat bacterial infections, such as urinary tract infection, streptococcus, pneumonia, tuberculosis and other diseases. Different antibiotics treat different bacteria. For example, penicillin antibiotics, derived from mold, treat a certain type of Gram-positive bacteria that display certain vulnerable characteristics in structure and behavior. Aminoglycosides attack Gram-negative bacteria that are specifically aerobic and virulent.

The first aminoglycoside antibacterial, streptomycin, was developed in 1943 from the Streptomyces griseus bacterium. It was found to be very effective against tuberculosis, a deadly mycobacteria that ionfects the lungs. At least seven other aminoglycosides have been isolated since then, including neomycin, amikacin, paromomycin, tobramycin, gentamicin, netilmicin and kanamycin. Aminoglycosides are toxic to certain cells of the body and are therefore administered with care, paired with other antibiotics, or used only when other antibiotics have proven ineffective. These antibiotics are administered intravenously or through intramuscular injections, because aminoglycosides are not absorbed into the body through the digestive system.

The aminoglycoside group of antibiotics are administered intravenously.
The aminoglycoside group of antibiotics are administered intravenously.

Side effects of the aminoglycoside antibiotics include temporary damage to the inner ear and kidneys, as permanent damage is rare. Common complications from aminoglycoside use includes tinnitus, dizziness, temporary loss of hearing, vertigo, difficulty urinating and kidney damage. Severe side effects can include nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, skin rash and seizures. Patients with kidney disease, Parkinson's disease or myasthenia gravis should avoid these antibiotics. Pregnant women should abstain from aminoglycosides, but intake is safe during breastfeeding as studies have shown that very little of the drug passes to mother's milk.

Aminoglycoside combats bacterial infections, such as urinary tract infections.
Aminoglycoside combats bacterial infections, such as urinary tract infections.

An aminoglycoside is so named because the basic molecule components consist of amino-modified sugars. The specific shape and molecular content of aminoglycosides interfere with cell wall function in certain aerobic bacteria. Aerobic bacteria require oxygen for life, as opposed to anaerobic bacteria that do not require oxygen.Aminoglycosides are ineffective against anaerobic bacteria as well as fungi and viruses. Only paromomycin is shown to resist parasites.

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    • The aminoglycoside group of antibiotics are administered intravenously.
      By: michaeljung
      The aminoglycoside group of antibiotics are administered intravenously.
    • Aminoglycoside combats bacterial infections, such as urinary tract infections.
      By: joshya
      Aminoglycoside combats bacterial infections, such as urinary tract infections.
    • Aminoglycoside is often used in conjunction with other drugs to treat tuberculosis.
      By: stockdevil
      Aminoglycoside is often used in conjunction with other drugs to treat tuberculosis.
    • The adverse side effects of aminoglycoside can include dizziness and hearing loss.
      By: elizalebedewa
      The adverse side effects of aminoglycoside can include dizziness and hearing loss.
    • Antibiotics are substances that combat bacterial infections.
      By: Brian Jackson
      Antibiotics are substances that combat bacterial infections.
    • A temporary loss of hearing is a common complication of aminoglycoside.
      By: slasnyi
      A temporary loss of hearing is a common complication of aminoglycoside.
    • Aminoglycoside may be used to treat pneumonia.
      By: designua
      Aminoglycoside may be used to treat pneumonia.