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Why is this medication prescribed?
Vancomycin is used to treat colitis (inflammation of the intestine caused by certain bacteria) that may occur after antibiotic treatment. Vancomycin is in a class of medications called glycopeptide antibiotics. It works by killling bacteria in the intestines. Vancomycin will not kill bacteria or treat infections in any other part of the body when taken by mouth.
Antibiotics such as vancomycin 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?
Vancomycin comes as a capsule and oral solution (liquid) to take by mouth. It is usually taken 3-4 times a day for 7-10 days. To help you remember to take vancomycin, take it around the same times every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take vancomycin exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Shake the oral solution well before each use to mix the medication evenly.
You should begin to feel better during the first few days of treatment with vancomycin. If your symptoms do not improve or get worse, call your doctor.
Take vancomycin until you finish the prescription, even if you feel better. If you stop taking vancomycin too soon or miss doses, your infection may not be completely cured and bacteria may become resistant to antibiotics.
Other uses for this medicine
This medication should not be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking vancomycin,
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to vancomycin, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in vancomycin capsules or oral solution. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients..
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
- Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had inflammatory bowel disease (swelling of the intestine that can cause painful cramps or diarrhea), including Crohn’s disease (a condition in which the body attacks the lining of the digestive tract, causing pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and fever) and ulcerative colitis (a condition which causes swelling and sores in the lining of the colon [large intestine] and rectum); hearing loss; or kidney disease.
- Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking vancomycin, call your doctor.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Vancomycin may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if this symptom is severe or does not go away:
- Stomach pain
- Back pain
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:
- Sore throat, fever, chills, and other signs of infection
- Sores or blisters in mouth, or on tongue or lips
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Redness of the skin above the waist
- Pain and muscle tightness of the chest and back
- Ringing in the ears
- Decreased urination; swelling of the face, arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs; or unusual tiredness or weakness
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).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store vancomycin capsules at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Store vancomyin oral solution in the refrigerator.
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA’s Safe Disposal of Medicines website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
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?
Keep all appointments with your doctor.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Your prescription is probably not refillable. If you still have symptoms of infection after you finish the vancomycin, call 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.