Chloramphenicol

Description

Chloramphenicol is an antibiotic used to treat serious bacterial infections when other medicines are ineffective. It works by stopping the growth of the bacteria and treats the infection. It is not effective against infections caused by viruses. Chloramphenicol can cause nausea, headache, weakness, stomach discomfort, pain at injection site etc. Most of these are temporary and usually resolve on their own. Consult your doctor if these side effects stay for a long time or become severe. Chloramphenicol oral form should be taken before a meal. The dose will be determined by your doctor depending on the severity of your condition. Once started, it is always recommended to finish the entire course of treatment. Take this medicine at the same time every day to maintain a constant level of this medicine in your blood. Chloramphenicol injection will be administered by a qualified healthcare professionals in a hospital setting. Chloramphenicol eye drops, eye ointments should be instilled in your eyes as advised by your doctor. Chloramphenicol is not recommended if you are allergic to it. Inform your doctor if you have liver, kidney, or stomach and intestine problems. Inform your doctor if you are taking any medicines as they can interact with each other and increase the risk of side effects. Consult your doctor if you are pregnant or are breastfeeding.

Side effects

Major & minor side effects for Chloramphenicol

  • Decreased red blood cells
  • Dark colored urine
  • Sore throat and fever
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Burning, numbness, tingling in the arms and feet
  • Swelling of face, lips, eyelids, tongue, hands and feet
  • Eye irritation and discomfort

Uses of Chloramphenicol

What is it prescribed for?

  • Serious bacterial infections
  • Bacterial eye infections
  • Bacterial Vaginosis
  • Bacterial Ear Infections
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Concerns

Commonly asked questions

  • Onset of action
    The exact time required for Chloramphenicol to show its action is not clinically known.
  • Duration of effect
    The amount of time for which Chloramphenicol remains active in your body is not clinically known.
  • 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 was reported for Chloramphenicol.
  • Usage in pregnancy?
    Chloramphenicol is usually not recommend for use during pregnancy as it may harm your foetus. Hence, consult your doctor if you are pregnant.
  • Usage while breast-feeding?
    Chloramphenicol is not recommended while breastfeeding as it may harm your newborn child. Consult your doctor if you are breastfeeding.

Allergy

Chloramphenicol is not recommended if you are allergic to it. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms such as skin rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, breathing difficulty, etc.

Minor infections

Chloramphenicol is not recommended for use to prevent or treat bacterial infections that can be treated with other antibiotics as this medicine may cause serious side effects.

Porphyria

Porphyria is a condition that affects your skin or nerves due to the excess collection of the chemical known as porphyrins in your body. Chloramphenicol is not recommended in such condition as this medicine may further worsen your condition.
Warnings for special population

Pregnancy

Chloramphenicol is usually not recommend for use during pregnancy as it may harm your foetus. Hence, consult your doctor if you are pregnant.

Breast-feeding

Chloramphenicol is not recommended while breastfeeding as it may harm your newborn child. Consult your doctor if you are breastfeeding.
General warnings

Vaccination

Chloramphenicol can cause the vaccination taken to prevent bacterial infection ineffective. Hence, inform your doctor about the use of this medicine if a vaccination is scheduled.

Antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria develop the ability to defeat the medicine that was intended to kill them. Hence, to avoid such resistance, you should always complete the entire course of treatment with Chloramphenicol even if you feel better after few doses.

Long term use

Avoid the long-term and repeated use of Chloramphenicol as the risk of getting a secondary infection (an infection that occurs during or after treatment for another infection) are very high in these cases.

Gray baby syndrome

Gray baby syndrome is a rare but serious side effect that occurs in infants (especially premature babies) following the accumulation of an antibiotic chloramphenicol. Chloramphenicol should be used with extreme caution in children up to the age of 2 years due to risk of gray baby syndrome. The risk is especially higher in premature babies and this medicine should be avoided in such cases. It can cause symptoms like stomach swelling, pale or blue skin, shock, breathing difficulties, low temperature etc.

Decreased blood cell count

Chloramphenicol can lower the count of blood cells and cause anaemia, bleeding, infections etc. Any sign and symptom that is indicative of a decreased blood cell count like tiredness, headache. fast heart rate, pale skin, dizziness, shortness of breath, etc. should be reported to your doctor immediately.

Diabetes

Chloramphenicol should be used with caution if you have diabetes with frequent monitoring of blood sugar levels due to the low blood sugar levels.

Missed Dose

Oral forms/ Eye or ear drops: Try not to skip a dose of Chloramphenicol. Take/administer the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is time for your next dose, skip the missed dose. Do not double the dose to compensate for a missed one. Injection: Since Chloramphenicol is administered in the hospital or clinical setting by a qualified healthcare professional, the likelihood of a missed dose is very low.

Overdose

Oral forms: Do not take excess dose than that prescribed by your doctor. Contact your doctor if you suspect an overdose with Chloramphenicol. Eye or ear drops: Since Chloramphenicol eye or ear drops is intended for external use, the likelihood of side effects due to an overdose is low. However, do not administer more than the prescribed dose. Injection: Since Chloramphenicol is administered in the hospital or clinical setting by a qualified healthcare professional, the likelihood of an overdose is very low. However, emergency medical treatment will be initiated by your doctor if an overdose is suspected.
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

Warfarin

Ethinyl Estradiol

Hydrocodone

Iron and vitamin B12

Cephalothin

Disease interactions

Bone marrow suppression

Bone marrow suppression refers to a decrease in the formation of blood cells in the bone marrow (spongy substance found in the center of the bones). Chloramphenicol may cause decrease in the formation of blood cells hence it should be used with caution if you have pre-existing conditions like bone marrow suppression or other blood problems. Your doctor may suggest tests to regularly monitor your blood count while taking this medicine.

Liver/kidney impairment

If you have kidney/liver problems, Chloramphenicol should be used with caution due to the risk of kidney/liver damage. Your doctor may recommend dose adjustment based on your clinical condition.

Gastrointestinal Diseases

Chloramphenicol can kill the helpful bacteria in your stomach or intestine and leads to diarrhoea. Therefore, use this medicine with extreme caution if you have stomach and intestinal problems, particularly colitis (swelling of the inner lining of the colon), since it may worsen your condition.
Food interactions
Information not available.
Lab interactions
Information not available.
Oral forms: Take Chloramphenicol as instructed by your doctor. Do not break, chew or crush the tablet/capsule in your mouth. For, syrup/suspension, shake the bottle well before measuring the dose. Avoid the discontinuation of Chloramphenicol even if you feel better after few doses. Complete the course of treatment to prevent re-infection. Topical forms: Chloramphenicol eye drops, eye ointment and ear drops are for external use only. Follow all the instructions advised by the doctor before applying the medicine in your eyes/ears. Do not ingest into the mouth or apply on cut wounds. Do not touch your eyes with unwashed hands. Avoid sharing items like eyeglasses, contact lenses, pillows, towels, clothes, eye or face makeup when you are infected. Parenteral forms: Chloramphenicol injection should be administered by a qualified healthcare professional in a clinical or hospital setting. Report any undesirable side effects to your doctor promptly. Your doctor may suggest frequent blood tests while you are taking Chloramphenicol to monitor your blood count.
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
Chloramphenicol generally interferes with certain vital processes in the bacterial cell thereby prevents the growth and multiplication of the microorganisms, eventually causes the lysis of the bacteria.
Legal Status

Approved

Approved

Approved

Approved

Classification

Category

Miscellaneous antibiotics

Schedule

Schedule H

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https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=aed29594-211d-49ef-813f-131975a8d0e3>

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

Drugs, H., 2021. Chloramphenicol Injection: MedlinePlus Drug Information. [online] Medlineplus.gov. Available at: < [Accessed 6 September 2021].

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a608008.html>

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Information on this page was last updated on 15 Sep 2021

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