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Cefuroxime Side Effects

In Summary

Commonly reported side effects of cefuroxime include: diarrhea. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to cefuroxime: oral powder for suspension, oral tablet

Along with its needed effects, cefuroxime 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 while taking cefuroxime:

More common
  • Chills
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • general feeling of illness or discomfort
  • headache
  • itching of the vagina or genital area
  • pain during sexual intercourse
  • rigidity
  • sweating
  • thick, white vaginal discharge with no odor or with a mild odor
Less common
  • Black, tarry stools
  • chest pain
  • cough
  • loose stools
  • painful or difficult urination
  • shortness of breath
  • sore throat
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
  • swollen glands
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • Back, leg, or stomach pains
  • bladder pain
  • bleeding gums
  • bloody or cloudy urine
  • body aches or pain
  • burning while urinating
  • dark urine
  • difficulty with breathing
  • ear congestion
  • fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat or pulse
  • frequent urge to urinate
  • general body swelling
  • loss of appetite
  • loss of voice
  • lower back or side pain
  • nasal congestion
  • nausea or vomiting
  • nosebleeds
  • pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
  • pale skin
  • pink or red urine
  • sneezing
  • stuffy or runny nose
  • swelling of the joints
  • swollen glands
  • tightness of chest or wheezing
  • white or brownish vaginal discharge
  • white patches in the mouth or throat or on the tongue
  • white patches with diaper rash
  • yellowing of the eyes or skin
Incidence not known
  • Blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
  • bloody, black, or tarry stools
  • clay-colored stools
  • cough or hoarseness
  • coughing up blood
  • decrease in urine output or decrease in urine-concentrating ability
  • feeling of discomfort
  • fever with or without chills
  • general feeling of tiredness or weakness
  • high fever
  • hives
  • increased menstrual flow or vaginal bleeding
  • joint or muscle pain
  • large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs
  • light-colored stools
  • paralysis
  • prolonged bleeding from cuts
  • puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • red or black, tarry stools
  • red or dark brown urine
  • red skin lesions, often with a purple center
  • red, irritated eyes
  • seizures
  • swollen lymph glands
  • swollen or painful glands
  • unpleasant breath odor
  • upper right abdominal or stomach pain
  • vomiting of blood

Some side effects of cefuroxime 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:

Less common
  • Bad, unusual, or unpleasant (after) taste
  • change in taste
  • diaper rash
  • Abdominal or stomach cramps
  • acid or sour stomach
  • belching
  • bloated
  • difficulty with moving
  • excess air or gas in the stomach or intestines
  • flushing or redness of the skin
  • full feeling
  • gas in the stomach
  • heartburn
  • indigestion
  • irritability
  • irritation or soreness of the mouth
  • itching skin
  • muscle pain or stiffness
  • muscle spasm of the neck
  • passing gas
  • restlessness
  • sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
  • stomach discomfort, upset, or pain
  • swelling of the tongue
  • thirst
  • trouble sitting still
  • unusually warm skin
  • watering of the mouth and drooling
  • weight loss
Incidence not known
  • Hives or welts
  • redness of the skin

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to cefuroxime: injectable powder for injection, intravenous solution, oral powder for reconstitution, oral tablet


Cefuroxime was generally well tolerated. The side effects most commonly reported with the parenteral formulation have included neutropenia, eosinophilia, transient liver enzyme/bilirubin elevations, and injection site reactions. The side effects most commonly reported with the oral formulations have included Candida overgrowth, eosinophilia, headache, dizziness, gastrointestinal disturbances, and transient liver enzyme elevations.[Ref]

Side effects may be more likely and more severe in patients with liver disease and/or renal dysfunction.[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Diarrhea/loose stools, nausea/vomiting, abdominal pain, nausea
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Abdominal cramps, flatulence, indigestion, mouth ulcers, swollen tongue, dyspepsia, gastrointestinal (GI) infection, ptyalism/excess salivation, GI disturbance, vomiting
Frequency not reported: Abdominal discomfort, dry mouth, Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea
Postmarketing reports: GI disturbances (including diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain), pseudomembranous colitis

-Frequency not reported: Vomiting, abdominal pain, colitis[Ref]

The onset of pseudomembranous colitis symptoms has been reported during or after antibacterial therapy.[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Transient increase in AST, transient increase in ALT, transient increase in liver enzyme levels
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Transient increase in bilirubin
Postmarketing reports: Hepatic dysfunction, hepatitis, cholestasis, jaundice (mainly cholestatic)

-Frequency not reported: Hepatic dysfunction (including cholestasis)[Ref]

Nervous system

Common (1% to 10%): Headache, dizziness
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Sleepiness, somnolence, hyperactivity
Postmarketing reports: Seizures, encephalopathy[Ref]

Cephalosporin-class antibiotics (including this drug) have been associated with seizures, especially in patients with renal dysfunction when the dose was not reduced.[Ref]


Delayed hypersensitivity reaction to this drug has been reported in 2.9% of patients with history of delayed hypersensitivity to penicillin (but not a cephalosporin).

Rare cases of severe hypersensitivity reactions (including erythema multiforme, toxic epidermal necrolysis [exanthematic necrolysis], drug fever, serum sickness-like reaction, anaphylaxis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome) have been reported.[Ref]

Common (1% to 10%): Delayed hypersensitivity reaction
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Hypersensitivity reactions (including rash, pruritus, urticaria)
Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Severe hypersensitivity reactions
Frequency not reported: Serum sickness
Postmarketing reports: Anaphylaxis, serum sickness-like reaction[Ref]


Profound leukopenia has sometimes been profound with oral therapy.[Ref]

Common (1% to 10%): Eosinophilia, decreased hemoglobin and hematocrit, neutropenia, decreased hemoglobin concentration
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Positive Coombs test, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia
Frequency not reported: Autoimmune granulocytopenia, increased coagulation time
Postmarketing reports: Hemolytic anemia, pancytopenia, increased prothrombin time

-Frequency not reported: Aplastic anemia, hemolytic anemia, hemorrhage, prolonged prothrombin time, pancytopenia, agranulocytosis[Ref]


Acute renal failure has been reported. Renal function improved after this drug was stopped, and deteriorated upon rechallenge.[Ref]

Frequency not reported: Increased BUN, increased creatinine, decreased CrCl, acute renal failure
Postmarketing reports: Renal dysfunction, interstitial nephritis (including reversible fever, azotemia, pyuria, eosinophilia)

-Frequency not reported: Toxic nephropathy[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Vaginitis
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Vulvar itch, dysuria, vaginal candidiasis, vaginal discharge, vaginal itch, urethral pain/bleeding, kidney pain, urinary tract infection, vaginal irritation

-Frequency not reported: Vaginitis (including vaginal candidiasis)[Ref]


A case of occupational contact dermatitis due to cephalosporin allergy has been reported in a nurse who prepared cephalosporin solutions for administration to patients. The dermatitis resolved after the nurse stopped preparing the solutions.[Ref]

Common (1% to 10%): Diaper/nappy rash
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Rash, urticaria/hives, pruritus, erythema
Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Erythema multiforme, toxic epidermal necrolysis (exanthematic necrolysis), Stevens-Johnson syndrome
Frequency not reported: Acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis
Postmarketing reports: Angioedema, urticaria, toxic epidermal necrolysis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, erythema multiforme, cutaneous vasculitis[Ref]


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Anorexia

-Frequency not reported: Urine glucose false positive[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Transient increase in LDH, transient increase in alkaline phosphatase, Candida overgrowth, dislike of taste
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Chest pain/tightness, chills, thirst, viral illness, candidiasis, fever
Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Drug fever
Frequency not reported: Clostridium difficile overgrowth, disulfiram reaction[Ref]


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Shortness of breath, sinusitis, cough, upper respiratory infection[Ref]


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Muscle cramps, muscle stiffness, muscle spasm of the neck, lockjaw-type reaction, joint swelling, arthralgia[Ref]


A 90-year-old man, with no history of coronary artery disease, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, or hyperlipidemia, was administered 750 mg cefuroxime axetil IM for urinary tract infection. About 10 minutes after the injection, the patient developed chest pain and pruritic skin rashes. Kounis syndrome type I variant was diagnosed secondary to the drug. Five days after stopping the drug, the patient's symptoms had resolved.[Ref]

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Tachycardia
Frequency not reported: Kounis syndrome type I variant[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Injection site reactions (including pain, thrombophlebitis), thrombophlebitis with IV administration
Frequency not reported: Pain at IM injection site[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction[Ref]


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Irritable behavior


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

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