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Vancomycin Side Effects

For the Consumer

Applies to vancomycin: oral capsule, oral powder for solution, oral powder for suspension, oral solution

Other dosage forms:

Along with its needed effects, vancomycin 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 vancomycin:

More Common

  • Bladder pain
  • bloating or swelling of the face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet
  • bloody or cloudy urine
  • decreased urine
  • difficult, burning, or painful urination
  • dry mouth
  • fever
  • frequent urge to urinate
  • increased thirst
  • irregular heartbeat
  • loss of appetite
  • lower back or side pain
  • mood changes
  • muscle pain or cramps
  • nausea
  • numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or lips
  • rapid weight gain
  • seizures
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • unusual weight gain or loss
  • vomiting

Less Common

  • Change in the frequency of urination or amount of urine
  • difficulty with breathing
  • drowsiness
  • weakness


  • Hives
  • redness or other discoloration of the skin
  • scaling or welting of the skin
  • skin rash

Incidence Not Known

  • Black, tarry stools
  • bleeding gums
  • blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
  • blurred vision
  • chills
  • confusion
  • continuing ringing or buzzing or other unexplained noise in the ears
  • cough
  • diarrhea
  • difficulty with swallowing
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
  • fast heartbeat
  • feeling of constant movement of self or surroundings
  • feeling of fullness in the ears
  • hearing loss
  • itching
  • joint or muscle pain
  • loss of balance
  • lower back or side pain
  • pale skin
  • pinpoint red spots on the skin
  • puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • red skin lesions, often with a purple center
  • red, irritated eyes
  • ringing or buzzing in the ears
  • sensation of spinning
  • sore throat
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots in the mouth or on the lips
  • sweating
  • tightness in the chest
  • troubled breathing with exertion
  • unusual bleeding or bruising

Some side effects of vancomycin 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

  • Back pain
  • bitter or unpleasant taste
  • excess air or gas in the stomach or bowels
  • headache
  • mouth irritation
  • passing gas
  • stomach pain

Incidence Not Known

  • Depression
  • difficulty having a bowel movement
  • trouble sleeping

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to vancomycin: compounding powder, intravenous powder for injection, intravenous solution, oral capsule, oral powder for reconstitution, oral solution


The most commonly reported side effects include nausea, abdominal pain, and hypokalemia.[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Nausea (up to 17%), abdominal pain (up to 15%)

Common (1% to 10%): Vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence

Frequency not reported: Clostridium difficile colitis/pseudomembranous colitis, constipation, chemical peritonitis, indigestion, stomach ache, mild gastrointestinal tract disturbances[Ref]

Chemical peritonitis occurred with intraperitoneal administration.[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Hypokalemia (up to 13%)[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Nephrotoxicity, renal impairment, increased blood creatinine

Frequency not reported: Renal failure, interstitial nephritis, azotemia, uremia, acute kidney injury, transient increased urea and granular urinary casts[Ref]

Renal failure was most commonly characterized by increased serum creatinine of blood urea nitrogen levels.

Azotemia usually resolved upon discontinuation of treatment.[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Pyrexia, fatigue

Frequency not reported: Non-susceptible organism overgrowth, pain, superinfection

Postmarketing reports: Ototoxicity, hearing loss, tinnitus, drug fever, chills[Ref]


Hypotension, bradycardia, cardiogenic shock, and cardiac arrest have occurred with rapid bolus administration.[Ref]

Common (1% to 10%): Peripheral edema

Frequency not reported: Hypotension, bradycardia, cardiogenic shock, cardiac arrest, phlebitis, palpitations, substernal pressure, tachycardia, generalized flushing, thrombophlebitis

Postmarketing reports: Vasculitis, chest pain[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Back pain

Frequency not reported: Rigor

Postmarketing reports: Neck pain, chest and back muscle spasm[Ref]

Nervous system

Common (1% to 10%): Headache

Postmarketing reports: Vertigo, dizziness[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Urinary tract infection[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Anemia, reversible neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, reversible agranulocytosis, leukopenia

Postmarketing reports: Eosinophilia[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Linear IgA bullous dermatosis, bullous eruption disorders, erythematous macular rash with intense pruritus over face, neck, and upper body

Postmarketing reports: Rash, exfoliative dermatitis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, urticaria, pruritus/itch, erythema, upper body flushing/red neck/Red Man Syndrome[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Injection site inflammation, tissue irritation, necrosis[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Anaphylactoid reaction, hypersensitivity reactions

Postmarketing reports: Anaphylaxis[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Insomnia, depression[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Transaminase elevations[Ref]


Postmarketing reports: Wheezing, dyspnea[Ref]


Postmarketing reports: Drug rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS)[Ref]


1. "Product Information. Vancocin (vancomycin)." Lilly, Eli and Company, Indianapolis, IN.

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

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

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.