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How are antibiotics and antimicrobial agents different?

The term antibiotic originally referred to a natural compound produced by a fungus or another microorganism that kills bacteria which cause disease in humans or animals. Some antibiotics may be synthetic compounds (not produced by microorganisms) that can also kill or inhibit the growth of microbes.

Technically, the term antimicrobial agent refers to both natural and synthetic compounds; however, many people use the word antibiotic to refer to both.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.