Health Guide
Drug Guide

Cephalosporin (Oral route, injection route, intravenous route, intramuscular route)

Brand Names:

Dosage Forms:

Uses of This Medicine:

Cephalosporins are used in the treatment of infections caused by bacteria. They work by killing bacteria or preventing their growth.

Cephalosporins are used to treat infections in many different parts of the body. They are sometimes given with other antibiotics. Some cephalosporins given by injection are also used to prevent infections before, during, and after surgery. However, cephalosporins will not work for colds, flu, or other virus infections.

Once a medicine has been approved for marketing for a certain use, experience may show that it is also useful for other medical problems. Although these uses are not included in product labeling, cephalosporins are used in certain patients with the following medical conditions:

Before Using This Medicine:

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to medicines in this group or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.

Children

Many cephalosporins have been tested in children and, in effective doses, have not been shown to cause different side effects or problems than they do in adults. However, there are some cephalosporins that have not been tested in children up to 12 years of age.

Older adults

Cephalosporins have been used in the elderly, and they are not expected to cause different side effects or problems in older people than they do in younger adults.

Pregnancy

Studies have not been done in humans. However, most cephalosporins have not been reported to cause birth defects or other problems in animal studies. Studies in rabbits have shown that cefoxitin may increase the risk of miscarriages and cause other problems. Before taking a cephalosporin, make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or if you may become pregnant.

Breast-feeding

It is not known if cefditoren passes into breast milk. Most cephalosporins pass into breast milk, usually in small amounts. However, cephalosporins have not been reported to cause problems in nursing babies. Mothers who are taking a cephalosporin and who wish to breast-feed should discuss this with their doctor.

Other medicines

Using medicines in this class with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with a medication in this class or change some of the other medicines you take.

Using medicines in this class with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

Other interactions

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Using medicines in this class with any of the following is usually not recommended, but may be unavoidable in some cases. If used together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use your medicine, or give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other medical problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of medicines in this class. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

Proper Use of This Medicine:

Cephalosporins may be taken on a full or empty stomach. If this medicine upsets your stomach, it may help to take it with food.

Cefaclor extended-release tablets, cefditoren, cefpodoxime, and cefuroxime axetil should be taken with food to increase absorption of the medicine. Ceftibuten oral suspension should be taken on an empty stomach, at least 2 hours before or 1 hour after a meal.

Loracarbef should be taken at least 1 hour before eating or at least 2 hours after eating.

For patients taking the oral liquid form of this medicine:

For patients taking cefaclor chewable tablets:

To help clear up your infection completely, keep taking this medicine for the full time of treatment, even if you begin to feel better after a few days. If you have a “strep” infection, you should keep taking this medicine for at least 10 days. This is especially important in “strep” infections since serious heart or kidney problems could develop later if your infection is not cleared up completely. Also, if you stop taking this medicine too soon, your symptoms may return.

This medicine works best when there is a constant amount in the blood or urine. To help keep the amount constant, do not miss any doses. Also, it is best to take the doses at evenly spaced times, day and night. For example, if you are to take four doses a day, the doses should be spaced about 6 hours apart. If this interferes with your sleep or other daily activities, or if you need help in planning the best times to take your medicine, check with your health care professional.

Dosing

The dose medicines in this class will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of these medicines. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

Missed dose

If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.

Storage

Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.

Keep out of the reach of children.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Store the oral liquid form of most cephalosporins in the refrigerator because heat will cause this medicine to break down. However, keep the medicine from freezing. Follow the directions on the label. Cefixime oral suspension (Suprax), cefuroxime axetil oral suspension (Ceftin), cefdinir oral suspension (Omnicef), and loracarbef oral suspension (Lorabid) do not need to be refrigerated.

Precautions While Using This Medicine:

If your symptoms do not improve within a few days, or if they become worse, check with your doctor.

For patients with diabetes:

For patients with phenylketonuria (PKU):

In some patients, cephalosporins may cause diarrhea:

For patients receiving cefamandole, cefoperazone, or cefotetan by injection:

Side Effects of This Medicine:

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

More common
Black, tarry stools
chest pain
chills
cough
fever
painful or difficult urination
shortness of breath
sore throat
sores, ulcers, or white spots on lips or in mouth
swollen glands
unusual bleeding or bruising (more common for cefamandole, cefoperazone, cefotetan and cefuroxime)
unusual tiredness or weakness
Less common or rare
Abdominal or stomach cramps and pain (severe)
abdominal tenderness
diarrhea (watery and severe, which may also be bloody)
hives or welts, itching redness of skin, or skin rash
pain, redness and swelling at site of injection
peeling of skin
seizures

After you stop using this medicine, it may still produce some side effects that need attention. During this period of time, check with your doctor immediately if you notice the following side effects:

Rare
Blistering, peeling, or loosening of skin
decrease in urine output
hearing loss (more common with cefuroxime treatment for meningitis)
joint pain
loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting (more common with ceftriaxone)
red or irritated eyes
trouble in breathing
yellowing of the eyes or skin

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common (less common with some cephalosporins)
Diarrhea (mild)
headache
sore mouth or tongue
stomach cramps (mild)
vaginal itching or discharge

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


Last Updated: 6/12/2013

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