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Vancomycin (injection)

Generic Name: vancomycin (injection) (VAN koe MYE sin)
Brand Name:

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on May 1, 2018 – Written by Cerner Multum

What is vancomycin?

Vancomycin is an antibiotic that fights bacteria.

Vancomycin injection is used to treat severe infections that are resistant to certain other antibiotics. Vancomycin is also used to treat serious infections in people who are allergic to penicillin.

Vancomycin may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

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.

Before taking this medicine

You should not take this medication if you are allergic to vancomycin.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • an allergy to corn products;

  • kidney disease;

  • hearing problems; or

  • if you are receiving any IV antibiotics.

It is not known whether vancomycin will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant.

It may not be safe to breast-feed while using this medicine. Ask your doctor about any risk.

How should I use vancomycin?

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

Vancomycin is given as an infusion into a vein, over at least 60 minutes. A healthcare provider will give your first dose and may teach you how to properly use the medication by yourself.

Read and carefully follow any Instructions for Use provided with your medicine. Do not use vancomycin if you don't understand all instructions for proper use. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions.

Prepare your injection only when you are ready to give it. Do not mix vancomycin with any other injectable medicines in the same container or IV. Do not use if the medicine looks cloudy or has changed colors. Call your pharmacist for new medicine.

Injecting this medicine too fast can cause serious side effects. Tell your doctor if you feel any burning, pain, or swelling around the IV needle when vancomycin is injected.

You will need frequent medical tests. Your hearing may also need to be checked.

If you need surgery, tell your surgeon you currently use this medicine.

Use this medicine for the full prescribed length of time, even if your symptoms quickly improve. Skipping doses can increase your risk of infection that is resistant to medication. Vancomycin will not treat a viral infection such as the flu or a common cold.

Carefully follow all storage instructions provided with your medicine. How you store this medicine at home may depend on how the medicine is mixed before you receive it. Storage could also depend on the type of container the medicine is provided in.

If you store vancomycin in a refrigerator, do not allow it to freeze. Take the medicine out of the refrigerator and let it reach room temperature for 30 minutes before injecting your dose.

If you receive vancomycin in a frozen solution, store the medicine in a freezer. Allow the medicine to thaw in a refrigerator or at room temperature. Do not thaw in a microwave or under hot water. Do not refreeze the medicine after it has been thawed.

Each single-use container of vancomycin is for one use only. Throw it away after one use, even if there is still medicine left inside.

Use a needle and syringe only once and then place them in a puncture-proof "sharps" container. Follow state or local laws about how to dispose of this container. Keep it out of the reach of children and pets.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Use the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use 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 while using vancomycin?

Antibiotic medicines can cause diarrhea, which may be a sign of a new infection. If you have diarrhea that is watery or bloody, call your doctor. Do not use anti-diarrhea medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Vancomycin side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • a light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;

  • itching, rash, wheezing, trouble breathing;

  • pain or tight feeling in your back or chest;

  • flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling) especially in your neck;

  • severe stomach pain, diarrhea that is watery or bloody;

  • pain, burning, irritation, or skin changes where the injection was given;

  • fever, swollen gums, painful mouth sores, pain when swallowing, skin sores, cold or flu symptoms, cough, trouble breathing;

  • hearing loss, ringing in your ears; or

  • signs of a kidney problem--blood in your urine, little or no urinating, drowsiness, rapid weight gain.

Side effects on the kidneys may be more likely in older adults.

Common side effects may include:

  • swelling or bruising where the medicine was injected.

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.

What other drugs will affect vancomycin?

Vancomycin can harm your kidneys, especially if you also use certain medicines for infections, cancer, osteoporosis, organ transplant rejection, bowel disorders, or pain or arthritis (including aspirin, Tylenol, Advil, and Aleve).

Other drugs may affect vancomycin, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Further information

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.

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