Antibiotics and painkillers are both frequently prescribed medications, but both have very different actions to achieve their goals of helping the person to feel better during the course of the infection.
Antibiotics are a type of medication used as an antibacterial to inhibit the replication and kill bacteria which are invading the human body. Antibiotics are only to be used while a bacterial infection is present. Overuse of antibiotics can begin to cause antibiotic-resistant forms of bacteria to arise, such as some strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MRSA is causing a difficulty in the medical field because the typical antibiotics used to treat it are no longer effective against these strains resulting in other “last resort” antibiotics to be forced to be used.
Painkillers are a type of medication which is used to relieve pain for people. These medications work by decreasing the production of prostaglandins in the human body which are what signals us to feel physical pain when we are sick. By reducing the production of prostaglandins, they, therefore, decrease the amount of pain felt by the person taking the painkiller. The action of these painkillers by reducing the production of prostaglandins can also often be effective at reducing the amount of inflammation.
Antibiotics work to kill and stop a bacterial infection while it is occurring until the body's immune system can work to eradicate the infection. Painkillers don't prevent an infection from occurring as it only helps to relieve the symptoms of that infection to make it felt less until the body is able to eradicate the infection from the body completely.
Antibiotics and painkillers both work to help relieve a person during an infection, but they both work through different actions to do so and to help relieve the person of that infection.