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vancomycin (Intravenous route)

Pronunciation

van-koe-MYE-sin

Commonly used brand name(s)

In the U.S.

  • Vancocin HCl
  • Vancoled

Available Dosage Forms:

  • Solution
  • Powder for Solution

Therapeutic Class: Antibiotic

Chemical Class: Glycopeptide

Uses For vancomycin

Vancomycin is used to treat infections caused by bacteria. It belongs to the family of medicines called antibiotics. Vancomycin works by killing bacteria or preventing their growth. Vancomycin will not work for colds, flu, or other virus infections.

Vancomycin is used to treat infections in many different parts of the body. It is sometimes given with other antibiotics. Vancomycin is also used in patients with heart valve disease (e.g., rheumatic fever) or prosthetic (artificial) heart valves who are allergic to penicillin. Under certain circumstances, vancomycin also may be used to prevent endocarditis (inflammation of the lining of the heart) in these patients who are having dental work done or surgery on the upper respiratory tract (for example, nose or throat). Vancomycin also may be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Slideshow: View Frightful (But Dead Serious) Drug Side Effects

Vancomycin given by injection is used mainly for serious infections for which other medicines may not work. However, vancomycin may cause some serious side effects, including damage to your hearing and kidneys. These side effects may be more likely to occur in elderly patients. You and your doctor should talk about the good vancomycin will do as well as the risks associated with receiving it.

Vancomycin is available only with your doctor's prescription.

Before Using vancomycin

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For vancomycin, the following should be considered:

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to vancomycin 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.

Pediatric

Vancomycin can cause serious side effects in any patient. Therefore, it is especially important that you discuss with the child's doctor the good that vancomycin will do as well as the risks of using it.

Geriatric

Elderly patients may be especially sensitive to the unwanted effects of vancomycin. This may increase the chance for hearing problems or kidney damage.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy Category Explanation
All Trimesters C Animal studies have shown an adverse effect and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women OR no animal studies have been conducted and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women.

Breast Feeding

There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.

Interactions with Medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are receiving vancomycin, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Using vancomycin 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.

  • Amikacin
  • Gentamicin
  • Tobramycin

Using vancomycin with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Succinylcholine
  • Warfarin

Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol

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. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other Medical Problems

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

  • Kidney disease or
  • Loss of hearing or deafness, history of—Use with caution. May cause side effects to become worse.

Proper Use of vancomycin

Some medicines given by injection may sometimes be given at home to patients who do not need to be in the hospital for the full time of treatment. If you are receiving vancomycin at home, make sure you clearly understand and carefully follow your doctor's instructions.

To help clear up your infection completely, vancomycin must be given for the full time of treatment, even if you begin to feel better after a few days. Also, vancomycin works best when there is a constant amount in the blood. To help keep the amount constant, vancomycin must be given on a regular schedule.

Dosing

The dose of vancomycin 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 vancomycin. 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.

  • For injection dosage form:
    • For treatment of bacterial infections:
      • Adults and teenagers—7.5 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) of body weight, or 500 mg, injected into a vein every six hours; or 15 mg per kg of body weight, or 1 gram, injected into a vein every twelve hours.
      • Children 1 month to 12 years of age—10 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) of body weight injected into a vein every six hours; or 20 mg per kg of body weight injected into a vein every twelve hours.
      • Infants 1 week to 1 month of age—15 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) of body weight injected into a vein at first, then 10 mg per kg of body weight injected into a vein every eight hours.
      • Newborns younger than 1 week of age—15 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) of body weight injected into a vein at first, then 10 mg per kg of body weight injected into a vein every twelve hours.

vancomycin Side Effects

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:

Less common
  • Change in the frequency of urination or amount of urine
  • chills
  • coughing
  • difficulty with breathing
  • drowsiness
  • fever
  • increased thirst
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea or vomiting
  • sore throat
  • weakness
Rare
  • Abnormal bleeding or bruising
  • large blisters on the arms, legs, hands, feet, or upper body
  • loss of hearing
  • ringing, buzzing, or a feeling of fullness in the ears
  • severe stomach cramps and pain
  • stomach tenderness
  • watery and severe diarrhea, which may also be bloody
Symptoms of “red man syndrome” - Less common

Note: Some of these side effects may occur several weeks after you stop receiving vancomycin.

  • Chills or fever
  • fainting
  • fast heartbeat
  • hives
  • itching
  • low blood pressure
  • nausea or vomiting
  • rash or redness of the face, base of the neck, upper body, back, and arms

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.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

The information contained in the Truven Health Micromedex products as delivered by Drugs.com is intended as an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatment. It is not a substitute for a medical exam, nor does it replace the need for services provided by medical professionals. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before taking any prescription or over the counter drugs (including any herbal medicines or supplements) or following any treatment or regimen. Only your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for you.

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