Medically reviewed on Jan 12, 2018
What is rifampin?
Rifampin is an antibiotic that fights bacteria and prevents it from spreading in your body.
Rifampin is used to treat or prevent tuberculosis (TB).
Rifampin may also be used to reduce certain bacteria in your nose and throat that could cause meningitis or other infections. Rifampin prevents you from spreading these bacteria to other people, but rifampin will not treat an active meningitis infection.
Rifampin may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Some medicines can interact with rifampin and should not be used at the same time. Your doctor may need to change your treatment plan if you take medicine to treat HIV or AIDS.
Before taking this medicine
Some medicines can interact with rifampin and should not be used at the same time. Rifampin can make certain HIV or AIDS medicines less effective, or make your HIV infection resistant to antiviral medicine. Your doctor may need to change your treatment plan if you take:
To make sure rifampin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
porphyria (a genetic enzyme disorder that causes symptoms affecting the skin or nervous system).
It is not known whether rifampin will harm an unborn baby. However, taking rifampin during the last few weeks of pregnancy may cause bleeding in the mother or the newborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using rifampin.
Rifampin can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.
How should I take rifampin?
Rifampin is usually taken daily. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
Take this medicine with a full glass of water.
Rifampin works best if you take it 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal.
Rifampin may cause temporary discoloration of your teeth, sweat, urine, saliva, and tears (a yellow, orange, red, or brown color). This side effect is usually not harmful. However, soft contact lenses may be permanently stained if you wear them while taking rifampin.
Dark colored urine can be a sign of liver problems. Call your doctor if you have reddish-brown urine together with upper stomach pain, loss of appetite, and jaundice (yellowing of your skin or eyes).
Use this medicine for the full prescribed length of time. Your symptoms may improve before the infection is completely cleared. Skipping doses may increase your risk of further infection that is resistant to antibiotics. Rifampin will not treat a viral infection such as the flu or a common cold.
While using rifampin, you may need frequent blood tests.
If you need surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using rifampin. You may need to stop using the medicine for a short time.
You should not stop using rifampin without your doctor's advice. Stopping the medicine suddenly and later starting again may cause kidney problems. Rifampin is usually given until lab tests show that the infection has cleared.
This medicine can cause unusual results with certain medical tests. Tell any doctor who treats you that you are using rifampin.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Keep the bottle tightly closed when not in use.
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.
Overdose can cause worsening symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, itching, headache, lack of energy leading to loss of consciousness, and dark or discolored skin, saliva, tears, urine, or stools.
What should I avoid while taking rifampin?
Avoid drinking alcohol.
Avoid wearing contact lenses. Rifampin may discolor your tears, which could permanently stain soft contact lenses.
Rifampin side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction (hives, difficult breathing, swelling in your face or throat) or a severe skin reaction (fever, sore throat, burning in your eyes, skin pain, red or purple skin rash that spreads and causes blistering and peeling).
Seek medical treatment if you have a serious drug reaction that can affect many parts of your body. Symptoms may include: skin rash, fever, swollen glands, flu-like symptoms, muscle aches, severe weakness, unusual bruising, or yellowing of your skin or eyes. This reaction may occur several weeks after you began using rifampin.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
severe stomach pain, diarrhea that is watery or bloody;
a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;
chest pain, cough, shortness of breath;
pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest;
easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nosebleeds, bleeding gums);
little or no urinating;
flu symptoms--fever, chills, body aches, headache, weakness, nausea, vomiting); or
liver problems--upper stomach pain, tired feeling, loss of appetite, dark urine, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
Common side effects may include:
nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps;
headache, dizziness, drowsiness, weakness, tired feeling;
muscle weakness, pain in your arms or legs;
flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling); or
confusion, changes in behavior, trouble concentrating.
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.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect rifampin?
Many drugs can interact with rifampin. Not all possible interactions are listed here. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:
birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy;
levothyroxine or other thyroid medicine;
certain antibiotics or antifungal medicines;
a blood thinner, or medicine to treat or prevent blood clots;
drugs that lower cholesterol, such as clofibrate;
drugs to treat HIV or AIDS, such as zidovudine;
steroid medicine (prednisone, and others).
This list is not complete and many other drugs can interact with rifampin. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Give a list of all your medicines to any healthcare provider who treats you.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
Copyright 1996-2018 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 5.01.
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