Cefalexin

Description

Cefalexin is an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections in different parts of your body including skin, bone, ears, throat, lungs and urinary tract. This medicine kills or stops the growth of bacteria that is causing the infection. Cefalexin is not effective against infections caused by viruses. This medicine is available on prescription as a capsule, tablet, oral drops, powder for suspension and syrup. Some common side effects of Cefalexin are diarrhoea, stomach pain, headache, weakness, nausea, and vomiting. These are generally mild; however, inform your doctor if the side effects become severe or persist for a long time. You can take Cefalexin with or without food, as prescribed by your doctor. Take this medicine at around the same time every day for the ease of remembering. The dose will vary depending on the condition you are being treated for. Do not stop the medicine, make sure to complete the entire course of treatment even if you feel better. If you stop the antibiotic early, some bacteria may survive and become resistant leading to recurrence of infection. Do not use Cefalexin if you are allergic to it or penicillin antibiotics. If you have kidney, liver, or heart disease, you should consult your doctor before taking Cefalexin. Inform your doctor about all the other medications you are taking, as there are chances that any of these medicines may interact with Cefalexin and cause adverse effects. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult with your doctor before using this medication.

Side effects

Major & minor side effects for Cefalexin

  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach pain
  • Dark or clay coloured stools
  • Headache
  • Itching or rash
  • Joint pain
  • Dark urine
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Indigestion
  • Blood in urine

Uses of Cefalexin

What is it prescribed for?

  • Acute bacterial otitis media
  • Tonsilitis/Pharyngitis
  • Cystitis
  • Acute bacterial Sinusitis
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Skin and soft tissue infections
  • Prostatitis
  • Pyelonephritis
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Concerns

Commonly asked questions

  • Onset of action
    The effect of Cefalexin is very quick and can be observed within an hour of oral administration. This time may vary depending on the dose form. However, you may notice an improvement in your symptoms within 48 hours of taking this medicine.
  • Duration of effect
    The effect of Cefalexin lasts for around 2 days in your body.
  • Safe with alcohol?
    Interaction with alcohol is unknown. It is advisable to consult your doctor before consumption.
  • Is it habit forming?
    No habit-forming tendency has been reported for Cefalexin.
  • Usage in pregnancy?
    Although Cefalexin is considered to be safe to use during pregnancy as it does not cause any harm to the foetus. You should always consult your doctor before taking it.
  • Usage while breast-feeding?
    Cefalexin enters into breast milk at low levels. Hence, you should only take it after consulting a doctor. If you are taking Cefalexin, you should observe your baby for symptoms such as diarrhoea and stomach infection.

Allergy

Avoid taking Cefalexin if you are previously allergic to it. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of allergic reactions such as skin rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, breathing difficulties, etc.

Acute Porphyria

Cefalexin is contraindicated in acute porphyria. It is a disorder caused by the accumulation of certain chemicals associated with red blood cell proteins. It affects your skin and nervous system.
Warnings for special population

Pregnancy

Although Cefalexin is considered to be safe to use during pregnancy as it does not cause any harm to the foetus. You should always consult your doctor before taking it.

Breast-feeding

Cefalexin enters into breast milk at low levels. Hence, you should only take it after consulting a doctor. If you are taking Cefalexin, you should observe your baby for symptoms such as diarrhoea and stomach infection.
General warnings

Antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change their response to the use of medicines and become resistant. This occurs due to the long term use of antibiotics. Consult your doctor if you still feel unwell after completing your Cefalexin course.

Impaired liver function

Cefalexin may increase liver enzyme levels and cause liver swelling. If you have liver disease, use this medication with caution since it may worsen your condition and cause liver damage. The dose should be adjusted based on your clinical condition.

Diarrhoea

Cefalexin can cause diarrhoea because it might destroy helpful bacteria in your stomach or intestine. If you have severe diarrhoea that is watery or bloody, get emergency medical attention. Call your pharmacist/doctor before taking anti-diarrhoeal medication.

Driving or operating machinery

Cefalexin may cause dizziness and drowsiness. This can affect your ability to perform tasks that require high mental alertness. Hence it is advised to avoid activities such as driving a vehicle or operating machinery while taking this medicine.

Multivitamins with minerals

Cefalexin and multivitamins that contain minerals should not be taken orally at the same time. Zinc containing products may interfere with the absorption of Cefalexin into your body which may reduce its effectiveness. After taking Cefalexin, you should take a multivitamin with minerals at least after three hours.

Missed Dose

If you forget to take a dose of Cefalexin, take it as soon as you remember, but if it is almost time for your next dose skip the missed dose. Do not take two doses at one time to make up for the missed dose.

Overdose

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you might have taken an overdose of Cefalexin, go to the emergency department of your local hospital.
All drugs interact differently for person to person. You should check all the possible interactions with your doctor before starting any medicine.
Interaction with Alcohol

Description

Interaction with alcohol is unknown. It is advisable to consult your doctor before consumption.

Instructions

Interaction with alcohol is unknown. It is advisable to consult your doctor before consumption.
Interaction with Medicine

Ethinyl Estradiol

Cholera Vaccine

Furosemide

Warfarin

Disease interactions

Colitis

Cefalexin can kill the helpful bacteria in your stomach or intestine and may lead to diarrhoea. Therefore, this medicine should be used with extreme caution if you have gastrointestinal (disorders of the digestive system) diseases, particularly colitis [swelling in the lining of the colon (large intestine)], as it may worsen your condition.

Seizure disorders

A seizure disorder occurs due to a disturbance of the nerve cell activity in the brain. Cefalexin should be used with caution if you have this condition as this medicine may trigger seizures. You should keep taking your seizure medications. Cefalexin dosage adjustments may be required.

Impaired kidney function

Cefalexin is filtered by the kidney and moved out of your body through urine. Take Cefalexin with caution if you have kidney disease. This medicine may lead to kidney damage and can worsen your condtion. The dose may be adjusted based on your clinical condition.
Food interactions
Information not available.
Lab interactions
Information not available.
Take Cefalexin with or without food. Never take more than the prescribed dose. Take this medicine at around the same time daily. Do not share your medicine with other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours. Diarrhoea may occur as a side effect of Cefalexin, but it should subside once your treatment is finished. If it does not stop or if you find blood in your stools, contact your doctor.
Miscelleneous

Can be taken with or without food, as advised by your doctor

To be taken as instructed by doctor

May cause sleepiness

How it works
Cefalexin works by preventing the formation of the bacterial cell wall. This stops the growth and multiplication of the bacteria, eventually killing them.
Legal Status

Approved

Approved

Approved

Approved

Classification

Category

First generation Cephalosporins, Antibiotics

Schedule

Schedule H

Dailymed.nlm.nih.gov. 2021. DailyMed - CEPHALEXIN capsuleCEPHALEXIN powder, for suspension. [online] Available at: < [Accessed 11 February 2021].

https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=19307ff0-71de-477b-965d-ea243e5ede3a>

Drugs, H., 2021. Cephalexin: MedlinePlus Drug Information. [online] Medlineplus.gov. Available at: < [Accessed 11 February 2021].

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682733.html>

Medicines.org.uk. 2021. Cefalexin 125mg / 5ml Suspension - Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC) - (emc). [online] Available at: < [Accessed 11 February 2021].

https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/9144/smpc>

Accessdata.fda.gov. 2021. [online] Available at: < [Accessed 11 February 2021].

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2006/050405s097lbl.pdf>

Pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. 2021. Cephalexin. [online] Available at: < [Accessed 11 February 2021].

https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Cephalexin>

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Information on this page was last updated on 12 Aug 2021

Disclaimer

We’ve made all possible efforts to ensure that the information provided here is accurate, up-to-date and complete, however, it should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Practo only provides reference source for common information on medicines and does not guarantee its accuracy or exhaustiveness. The absence of a warning for any drug or combination thereof, should not be assumed to indicate that the drug or combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for any given patient. Practo does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information provided above. If you have any doubts about your medication then we strongly recommend that you consult with your doctor, nurse or healthcare provider. See detailed T&C here.