Vancomycin is an antibiotic used to treat a severe intestinal condition known as Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea. This condition usually occurs after the use of another antibiotic, which allows the growth of resistant bacteria in the intestines, leading to severe diarrhea. When vancomycin is given by mouth, it is not absorbed by the body but remains in the intestines, allowing it to stop the growth of the bacteria responsible for this form of colitis.
This antibiotic treats only bacterial infections of the intestines. It will not work for other bacterial infections or viral infections (e.g., common cold, flu). Unnecessary use or overuse of any antibiotic can lead to its decreased effectiveness.
Dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment.
Cholestyramine and colestipol can decrease vancomycin's effects when given at the same time. If you are taking either of these drugs, separate them from vancomycin by at least 3 to 4 hours. If you are unsure, ask your pharmacist about the best way to do this.
This antibiotic works best when the amount of medicine in your intestines is kept at a constant level. Therefore, take this drug at evenly spaced intervals.
Continue to take this medication until the full prescribed amount is finished, even if symptoms disappear after a few days. Stopping the medication too early may result in a return of the infection.
Tell your doctor if your condition persists after 7 days or worsens at any time.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor immediately if any of these rare but very serious side effects occur: dizziness, difficulty hearing (e.g., ringing in the ears, hearing loss), change in the amount of urine, fever, chills, persistent diarrhea.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any of the following symptoms of a serious allergic reaction: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
In the US -
Before taking vancomycin, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: kidney disease, hearing problems, stomach/intestinal problems (e.g., inflammatory disorders of the intestines).
Older adults may be more sensitive to this drug's effects, especially the kidney effects.
During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
(See also How to Use section.)
Your doctor or pharmacist may already be aware of any possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for them. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with them first.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all prescription and nonprescription/herbal products you may use, especially of: aminoglycosides (e.g., gentamicin, neomycin), amphotericin B, other antibiotics, live bacterial vaccines.
If you will be undergoing treatment requiring anesthesia, tell the doctor/dentist you have been using vancomycin.
Although most antibiotics probably do not affect hormonal birth control such as pills, patch, or ring, some antibiotics may decrease their effectiveness. This could cause pregnancy. Examples include rifamycins such as rifampin or rifabutin. Be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist if you should use additional reliable birth control methods while using this antibiotic.
This document does not contain all possible interactions. Therefore, before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the products you use. Keep a list of all your medications with you, and share the list with your doctor and pharmacist.
If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
Do not share this medication with others.
This medication has been prescribed for your current condition only. Do not use it later for another infection unless told to do so by your doctor. A different medication may be necessary in that case.
Laboratory and/or medical tests (e.g., stool samples) should be performed periodically to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Consult your doctor for more details.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
Store at room temperature between 59-86 degrees F (15-30 degrees C) away from heat and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medicines away from children and pets.
Information last revised March 2013. Copyright(c) 2013 First Databank, Inc.
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