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Chloramphenicol injection may cause a decrease in the number of certain types of blood cells in the body. In some cases, people who experienced this decrease in blood cells later developed leukemia (cancer that begins in the white blood cells). You may experience this decrease in blood cells whether you are being treated with chloramphenicol for a long time or a short time. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately: pale skin; excessive tiredness; shortness of breath; dizziness; fast heartbeat; unusual bruising or bleeding; or signs of infection such as sore throat, fever, cough, and chills.
Your doctor will order laboratory tests regularly during your treatment to check whether the number of blood cells in your body has decreased. You should know that these tests do not always detect changes in the body that may lead to a permanent decrease in the number of blood cells. It is best that you receive chloramphenicol injection in the hospital so that you can be closely monitored by your doctor.
Chloramphenicol injection should not be used when another antibiotic can treat your infection. It must not be used to treat minor infections, colds, flu, throat infections or to prevent the development of an infection.
Talk to your doctor about the risks of receiving chloramphenicol injection.
Why is this medication prescribed?
Chloramphenicol injection is used to treat certain types of serious infections caused by bacteria when other antibiotics cannot be used. Chloramphenicol injection is in a class of medications called antibiotics. It works by stopping the growth of bacteria..
Antibiotics such as chloramphenicol injection will not work for colds, flu, or other viral infections. Taking antibiotics when they are not needed increases your risk of getting an infection later that resists antibiotic treatment.
How should this medicine be used?
Chloramphenicol injection comes as a liquid to be injected into a vein by a doctor or nurse in a hospital. It is usually given every 6 hours. The length of your treatment depends on the type of infection being treated. After your condition improves, your doctor may switch you to another antibiotic that you can take by mouth to complete your treatment.
You should begin to feel better during the first few days of treatment with chloramphenicol injection. If your symptoms do not improve or get worse, tell your doctor.
Use chloramphenicol injection for as long as your doctor tells you, even if you feel better. If you stop using chloramphenicol injection too soon or skip doses, your infection may not be completely treated and the bacteria may become resistant to antibiotics.
Other uses for this medicine
In the event of biological warfare, chloramphenicol injection may be used to treat and prevent dangerous illnesses that are deliberately spread such as plague, tularemia, and anthrax of the skin or mouth. Talk to your doctor about the risks of using this medication for your condition.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before receiving chloramphenicol injection,
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to chloramphenicol injection or any other medications.
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: anticoagulants (”blood thinners”) such as warfarin (Coumadin); aztreonam (Azactam); cephalosporin antibiotics such as cefoperazone (Cefobid), cefotaxime (Claforan), ceftazidime (Fortaz, Tazicef), and ceftriaxone (Rocephin); cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12); folic acid; iron supplements; certain oral medications for diabetes such as chlorpropamide (Diabinese) and tolbutamide; phenobarbital; phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek); rifampin (Rimactane, Rifadin); and medications that may cause a decrease in the number of blood cells in the body. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if any of the medications that you are taking may cause a decrease in the number of blood cells. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects. Other medications may also interact with chloramphenicol injection, so be sure to tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking, even those that do not appear on this list.
- Tell your doctor if you have ever been treated with chloramphenicol injection before, especially if you experienced severe side effects. Your doctor may tell you not to use chloramphenicol injection.
- Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had kidney or liver disease.
- Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while receiving chloramphenicol injection, call your doctor.
- If you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are receiving chloramphenicol injection.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Chloramphenicol injection may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- Tongue or mouth sores
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately:
- Swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Watery or bloody stools (up to 2 months after your treatment)
- Stomach cramps
- Muscle aches or weakness
- Feelings of numbness, pain, or tingling in an arm or leg
- Sudden changes in vision
- Pain with eye movement
Chloramphenicol injection may cause a condition called gray syndrome in premature and newborn infants. There have also been reports of gray syndrome in children up to age 2 and in newborns whose mothers were treated with chloramphenicol injection during labor. Symptoms, which usually occur after 3 to 4 days of treatment, may include: stomach bloating, vomiting, blue lips and skin due to lack of oxygen in the blood, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, and death. If treatment is stopped at the first sign of any symptoms, the symptoms may go away, and the infant may recover completely. Talk to your doctor about the risks of using this medication during labor or to treat babies and young children.
Chloramphenicol injection may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while receiving this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can’t be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.
What other information should I know?
Ask your doctor any questions you have about chloramphenicol injection. If you still have symptoms of infection after you finish the chloramphenicol injection, talk to your doctor.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.