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Side Effects
Serious

Pale or sickly appearance, sore throat, fever, unusual bruising or bleeding, unusual fatigue, confusion, delirium, headache, eye pain, blurring or loss of vision, weakness, numbness, tingling, or pain in hands or feet, skin rash, breathing difficulty. Call your doctor immediately.
Common

No common side effects are associated with the use of chloramphenicol.
Less Common

Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
Chloramphenicol Oral and Topical


Drug Class:
Antibiotic

Available OTC?: No

Available Generic?: Yes

Available In
Why Prescribed
How It Works
Range and Frequency
Onset of Effect
Duration of Action
Dietary Advice
Storage
Missed Dose
Stopping the Drug
Prolonged Use
Over 60
Driving and Hazardous Work
Alcohol
Pregnancy
Breast Feeding
Infants and Children
Special Concerns
Overdose Symptoms
What to Do
Drug Interactions
Food Interactions
Disease Interactions


Available In
Capsules, oral suspension, injection, cream

Why Prescribed
To treat serious infections caused by bacteria. Because of the risk of dangerous side effects, it is prescribed only when other less toxic antibiotics cannot be used.

How It Works
Chloramphenicol works by killing bacteria or inhibiting their growth.

Range and Frequency
Oral forms and injection-- Adults and teenagers: 5.7 mg per lb of body weight, 4 times a day. Children: 5.7 mg per lb of body weight, 4 times a day, or 11.4 mg per lb, 2 times a day. Infants under 2 weeks: 2.8 mg per lb, 4 times a day. Cream-- Apply to infected area of skin 3 or 4 times a day.

Onset of Effect
Unknown.

Duration of Action
Unknown.

Dietary Advice
Oral forms work best when taken on an empty stomach, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals, with a full glass of water.

Storage
Store in a tightly sealed container away from heat and direct light. Do not allow liquid forms to freeze.

Missed Dose
Take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your regular dosage schedule. Do not double the next dose.

Stopping the Drug
Take the medicine as prescribed for the full treatment period, even if you begin to feel better before the scheduled end of therapy.

Prolonged Use
You should see your doctor regularly for tests and examinations if you must take this medicine for a prolonged period of time.

Over 60
In older patients it is not known whether chloramphenicol causes side effects different from or more severe than those in younger persons.

Driving and Hazardous Work
Do not drive or engage in hazardous work until you determine how the medicine affects you.

Alcohol
It is advisable to abstain from alcohol when fighting an infection.

Pregnancy
Chloramphenicol has not been shown to cause birth defects in humans. However, its use is not recommended in the weeks immediately before delivery because it can cause temporary adverse side effects in the newborn child. Consult your doctor before using this drug during pregnancy.

Breast Feeding
Chloramphenicol passes into breast milk; avoid or discontinue use while nursing.

Infants and Children
Adverse reactions may be more likely and more severe in newborn babies.

Special Concerns
Chloramphenicol may cause anemia, which may increase the risk of infections and other problems in the gums. Blood must be monitored frequently while using this medicine. Be careful when brushing and flossing. Delay dental work, if possible, until you have stopped taking chloramphenicol. Chloramphenicol may cause false results on blood sugar tests for diabetics. Use of chloramphenicol while you are receiving x-ray treatment can increase the risk of blood problems.

Overdose Symptoms
Nausea, vomiting, unpleasant taste in the mouth, diarrhea.

What to Do
An overdose of chloramphenicol is unlikely to be life-threatening, Nonetheless, call your doctor, emergency medical services (EMS), or the nearest poison control center immediately.

Drug Interactions
Consult your doctor for specific advice if you are taking alfentanil, amphotericin B, antithyroid agents, azathioprine, chemotherapy drugs for cancer, colchicine, clindamycin, cyclophosphamide, ethotoin, erythromycins, oral antidiabetic agents, flucytosine, ganciclovir, interferon, mephenytoin, mercaptopurine, methotrexate, phenytoin, plicamycin, or zidovudine (AZT).

Food Interactions
No known food interactions.

Disease Interactions
Caution is advised when taking chloramphenicol. Consult your doctor if you have anemia or another blood disorder, liver disease, or if you are undergoing radiation therapy.

Date Published: 04/13/2005
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