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Cefotaxime Side Effects

In Summary

More frequently reported side effects include: induration at injection site, inflammation at injection site, pain at injection site, and tenderness at injection site. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to cefotaxime: injection powder for solution

Along with its needed effects, cefotaxime 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 or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking cefotaxime:

Less common
  • Abdominal or stomach cramps or tenderness
  • black, tarry stools
  • bloating
  • chest pain
  • chills
  • diarrhea
  • diarrhea, watery and severe, which may also be bloody
  • difficulty with breathing
  • difficulty with swallowing
  • dizziness
  • fast heartbeat
  • fever
  • hives, itching, or skin rash
  • increased thirst
  • large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs
  • nausea or vomiting
  • noisy breathing
  • pain
  • painful or difficult urination
  • puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • sore throat
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
  • swollen glands
  • tenderness
  • tightness in the chest
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • unusual weight loss
  • Agitation
  • back, leg, or stomach pains
  • bleeding gums
  • blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
  • blood in the urine or stools
  • bloody or cloudy urine
  • blurred vision
  • coma
  • confusion
  • cough or hoarseness
  • cracks in the skin at the corners of the mouth
  • dark urine
  • drowsiness
  • fainting
  • fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat
  • fever with or without chills
  • general body swelling
  • general feeling of tiredness or weakness
  • greatly decreased frequency of urination or amount of urine
  • hallucinations
  • headache
  • irritability
  • itching of the vagina or genital area
  • joint or muscle pain
  • loss of appetite
  • lower back or side pain
  • nosebleeds
  • pain during sexual intercourse
  • pale skin
  • pinpoint red spots on the skin
  • red skin lesions, often with a purple center
  • red, irritated eyes
  • seizures
  • soreness or redness around the fingernails and toenails
  • stiff neck
  • swelling of the feet or lower legs
  • thick, white vaginal discharge with no odor or with a mild odor
  • yellow eyes or skin
Incidence not known
  • Clay-colored stools
  • unpleasant breath odor
  • vomiting of blood

Some side effects of cefotaxime may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common
  • Red streaks on the skin
  • swelling, tenderness, or pain at the injection site

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to cefotaxime: injectable powder for injection, intravenous solution


The most commonly reported side effects include injection site inflammation, pain, induration, and tenderness.[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Injection site inflammation, pain, induration, tenderness
Postmarketing reports: Phlebitis, thrombophlebitis[Ref]

Injection site inflammation occurred with IV administration. Pain, induration, and tenderness occurred with IM administration.[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Colitis, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting
Frequency not reported: Pseudomembranous colitis, abdominal pain[Ref]

Signs/symptoms of pseudomembranous colitis/Clostridium difficile infection may occur during or after treatment.[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Rash/skin rash, pruritus
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Urticaria
Frequency not reported: Toxic epidermal necrolysis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, erythema multiforme
Postmarketing reports: Bullous skin reactions, acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis (AGEP)[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Eosinophilia
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Leukopenia, thrombocytopenia
Frequency not reported: Neutropenia, transient leukopenia, granulocytopenia, hemolytic anemia, agranulocytosis, positive direct Coombs' tests
Postmarketing reports: Hemolytic anemia, aplastic anemia, pancytopenia, bone marrow failure[Ref]

Thrombocytopenia was reported, but usually was rapidly reversible upon discontinuation.[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Fever
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Drug fever
Postmarketing reports: Malaise, superinfection, candidiasis, shivering, systemic reactions to lidocaine, false-positive test for urinary glucose[Ref]


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Transient AST, ALT, GGT, bilirubin, and alkaline phosphatase level elevations
Frequency not reported: Hepatitis, jaundice
Postmarketing reports: Cholestasis, hepatic dysfunction[Ref]

Nervous system

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Convulsions
Frequency not reported: Headache, dizziness, encephalopathy, impaired consciousness, abnormal movements
Postmarketing reports: Seizures[Ref]


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction[Ref]


Postmarketing reports: Anaphylactic reaction, anaphylactic shock, angioedema, allergic reactions[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Moniliasis, vaginitis[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Transient blood urea nitrogen level elevations
Postmarketing reports: Interstitial nephritis, transient creatinine elevations, acute renal failure[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Difficulty breathing
Postmarketing reports: Bronchospasm[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Transient lactate dehydrogenase elevations[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Joint discomfort[Ref]


Postmarketing reports: Potentially fatal arrhythmias, shock, hemorrhage[Ref]


1. Cerner Multum, Inc. "Australian Product Information." O 0

2. Cerner Multum, Inc. "UK Summary of Product Characteristics." O 0

3. "Product Information. Claforan (cefotaxime)." Hoechst Marion-Roussel Inc, Kansas City, MO.

Some side effects of cefotaxime may not be reported. Always consult your doctor or healthcare specialist for medical advice. You may also report side effects to the FDA.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.