The largest group of antibiotics are the so-called beta-lactam antibiotics. These include the most well-known antibiotics penicillin and the group of cephalosporins (eg cefuroxime) and the carbapenems (eg imipenem).


All beta-lactam antibiotics have a germicidal effect, especially on fast-growing bacteria. They are mainly found in cocci ( pneumococci in pneumonia, streptococci in angina and erysipelas, and gonococci in syphilis and meningococci in meningitis). One distinguishes still the penicillin G of penicillin V.

There are penicillins that are not betalaktamasefest (penicillin) and those that are betalaktamasefest. These include the staphylococcal penicillin Flucloxacillin, which is often given in Staphylococcus aureus infections.
The aminopenicillins (ampicillin, amoxicillin) are widely used in coccal infections of the lungs and the ear, nose and throat. A special indication is the urinary tract infection during pregnancy dar. Furthermore, this group of substances in patients who are at risk of heart wall inflammation, prophylactically given (eg in a dental or jaw surgery).
In 5-10% of cases patients develop skin reactions (exanthema) during the treatment of the preparation or as a complication a so-called pseudomembranous colitis. Patients already having skin reactions for other reasons should not be given these preparations. Because ampicillin can be poorly absorbed in the intestine, the main dosage forms are in liquid intravenous form. The acylaminopenicillins (mezlocillin, piperacillin) are given in severe infections.

side effect

As a side effect of beta-lactam antibiotics can:

  • allergies
  • Damage to the nerves (neurotoxicity)
  • an increased release of killed bacteria with concomitant chills and fever ( Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction

have as a consequence.
Should it come to this side effect, you should definitely continue the therapy, but in addition to give antipyretic drugs and prescribe bed rest and give the drug slowly.


Penicillin should not be combined with cephalosporins, as this can lead to a so-called cross reaction.
Bacteria are able in some cases to form an enzyme (beta-lactamase) that attacks the beta-lactam structure of the antibiotic and thus renders it ineffective.

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