Cephalosporins are a group of antibiotics used to treat and manage certain types of bacterial infections. They belong to a class of medication called beta-lactams. All cephalosporins act directly on bacteria, killing them off. They are classified into 5 generations based on the time they were developed. Each category is effective against certain kinds of bacteria. Those of the first generation are used to treat mild bacterial infections while the fifth generations are very effective against severe bacterial infections. Cephalosporin is the generic name for this group of medication and is available in various brands. Some common brand names include Cephalexin, Cefdinir, Cefaclor, Cefazolin, etc. Cephalosporins may come in liquid, tablet or capsule forms. Injectable ones are also available, to be administered by health care professionals if necessary.
Cephalosporins are used to treat a wide range of bacterial infections including infections of the bone, ear, skin, kidney and throat, meningitis, urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases among others. They work by fighting the bacteria in the body directly, by interfering with the build up of bacterial cell wall. They are not used to treat viral infection or flu. The five generations of cephalosporins act specifically on certain types of bacteria. Though these antibiotics were invented several years ago, improved ones are constantly being produced. The first generation cephalosporins are the simplest ones, acting only on the least resistant bacterial pathogens. With constant improvement through scientific research, second then third, fourth and fifth generations of these antibiotics were made. The ones belonging to the fifth generation are very effective against serious bacterial pathogens.
Consult your doctor before using any form of cephalosporin. Make sure you undergo a test to accurately determine the type of infection you have before using any type of this medication. Your doctor will recommend any brand that is best for you. Tell your doctor about any health issue you have or any major sickness you have previously experienced. Do not use cephalosporin if you have any of the following medical conditions:
- Kidney problems
- Stomach pains
- Liver problems
- Intestinal problems
- Severe allergic reactions to penicillin
Once you commence treatment with cephalosporin, make sure to complete your medication. You may feel better after some doses but continue taking your drug until your medication is complete. If you stop before time, you may suffer the infection all over again. This time the symptoms may reoccur more vigorously and may be very difficult to treat. Bacterial infections are very adaptive to antibiotics. A relapse may not be effectively treated with the previous cephalosporin you were using. You may have to switch to a higher generation antibiotics as they are generally more effective against. Make sure to check any type of cephalosporin you are about to use. Check for any form of discoloration or particles. If present, do not use the drug.
Click here to learn more about the mode of action of cephalosporins
Use cephalosporins exactly as directed by your doctor. Antibiotics function excellently if their level in your body system is constant. It is very important that you are consistent with your medication routine. Take your drug at the same time on a daily basis. This will help you to always remember to take them. Space out the time between each medication for the day evenly. Your dosage will be prescribed based on your medical condition and how you react to the drug. If you are taking liquid cephalosporin, shake well before use. Measure out the dosage prescribed for you with a special measuring spoon, medicine cup or dosage syringe (ask your pharmacist for any of these if you don’t have).
Try not to miss any dose. Missing or skipping doses may increase your chance of having a more severe bacterial infection. Take a missed dose immediately you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and wait till the next dose time. Take a single dose and continue with your normal medication routine. Do not double your dose because you missed the previous one. Overdosing this medication may cause these symptoms; diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, appearance of blood in your urine. Call your doctor or the emergency room in any case of accidental overdose.
Cephalosporins Side Effects
There are few reported cases of allergy to cephalosporins. Allergic reactions to these groups of drugs may express the following symptoms; itching, swelling of the face and neck, breathing problem, dizziness and body rashes. Tell your doctor if you experience these symptoms. Cephalosporins act like penicillin therefore you may experience symptoms of allergy if you react to penicillin.
People react differently when using this drug based on the individual’s body system. Common side effects include; watery diarrhoea (with traces of blood), vomiting, severe stomach cramps, constant tiredness, rapid breathing, etc. These symptoms will discontinue after few doses. In rare cases, side effects may progress to severe symptoms which include yellowing of eyes, skin discoloration, constant sore throat, bruising (very often with unusual bleeding), urine inconsistency and seizures. Report these symptoms immediately to your doctor or pharmacist once you notice them.
Do not share this medication with another person. Prolonged or repeated usage may lead to secondary infections like bladder or yeast infection. Do not use during pregnancy unless your doctor recommends it. Cephalosporins pass through breast milk into the baby’s system so do not continue this medication while breastfeeding.
Let your doctor know if you are using any other medication (supplements, vitamins and herbs) while taking cephalosporin. This is important as drug interactions may occur with certain medications. Do not drink alcohol while on this medication or 72 hours after injection. This medication may also reduce the efficiency of birth control pills. If you are to undergo any medical test while on this medication, tell your doctor as it may interfere with your test result. Make sure to get your doctor’s approval before you stop using this drug.
Store your drug in a cool and dry place. Keep away from children, pets and extreme temperatures. Dispose unused drugs through your local drug take-back program.