What is vancomycin?
Vancomycin is an antibiotic. When taken by mouth it fights bacteria in the intestines.
Vancomycin is used to treat an infection of the intestines caused by Clostridium difficile, which can cause watery or bloody diarrhea. It is also used to treat staph infections that can cause inflammation of the colon and small intestines.
Oral vancomycin works only in the intestines. This medicine is not normally absorbed into the body and will not treat other types of infection. An injection form of this medication is available to treat serious infections in other parts of the body.
Vancomycin may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Oral vancomycin works only in the intestines and will not treat infections in other parts of the body. Follow all directions on your medicine label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.
Vancomycin can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss. Stop using this medication and call your doctor at once if you have any hearing problems or ringing in your ears.
To be sure this medication is not causing harmful effects, your hearing will need to be tested on a regular basis. Visit your doctor regularly.
Take vancomycin for the full prescribed length of time. Your symptoms may improve before the infection is completely cleared. Skipping doses may also increase your risk of further infection that is resistant to antibiotics. This medicine will not treat a viral infection such as the common cold or flu.
Before taking this medicine
You should not take this medication if you are allergic to vancomycin.
To make sure vancomycin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
- An intestinal disorder such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis
- Kidney disease
- Hearing problems
- If you are receiving any IV antibiotics
FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether vancomycin will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.
Vancomycin can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.
Side effects on the kidneys may be more likely in older adults taking this medicine.
How should I take vancomycin?
Take vancomycin exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
Taking more of this medicine will not make it more effective, and may cause serious or life-threatening side effects.
Use this medication for the full prescribed length of time. Your symptoms may improve before the infection is completely cleared. Skipping doses may also increase your risk of further infection that is resistant to antibiotics. Vancomycin will not treat a viral infection such as the common cold or flu.
If you use this medication long-term, you may need frequent medical tests at your doctor’s office.
Shake the oral suspension (liquid) well just before you measure a dose.
Measure liquid medicine with the dosing syringe provided, or with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.
Store vancomycin capsules at room temperature, away from heat and moisture.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
What should I avoid?
Follow your doctor’s instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.
Vancomycin side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to vancomycin: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Certain side effects may occur if your body absorbs vancomycin through the intestinal walls. Call your doctor at once if you have:
- increased diarrhea that is watery or bloody;
- hearing loss, ringing in your ears;
- kidney problems–swelling, rapid weight gain, pain in your side or lower back, little or no urinating; or
- low potassium–confusion, uneven heart rate, extreme thirst, increased urination, leg discomfort, muscle weakness or limp feeling.
Common vancomycin side effects may include:
- nausea; or
- stomach pain.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.