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Brand names:

Tobi®, Tobrex®

Other names:

Tobramycin sulfate

Often used for:


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About Tobramycin

Tobramycin is an antibiotic. It works to kill bacteria that cause infections.

Patients will have tests to monitor kidney function, blood counts, fluids, and hearing (in at-risk patients). Tobramycin dose changes may occur based on levels in the blood.

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May be given as a liquid into a vein by IV

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May be given as a liquid injected into a muscle

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May be given in inhaled form by nebulizer or inhaler device

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May be given into the eye as eye drops or ointment

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Possible Side Effects

Possible side effects with IV form:

  • Decreased kidney function
  • Headache
  • Changes in taste
  • Decreased urine output
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Ringing in the ears or hearing loss
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble standing, difficulty with balance

Possible side effects with inhaled medicine:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Chest tightness

Possible side effects with eye drops or ointment:

  • Eye irritation
  • Burning or stinging
  • Increased tears
  • Blurred vision right after administration (temporary)

Symptoms of an allergic reaction include: rash, hives, itching, chills, fever, headache, muscle ache, shortness of breath, coughing, tightness in the throat, swelling of the face or neck

Not all patients who take tobramycin will experience these side effects. Common side effects are in bold, but there may be others. Please report all suspected side effects to your doctor or pharmacist.

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Tips for Families

Be sure to discuss these and other recommendations with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Let a doctor know if the patient urinates less often than normal or has severe diarrhea while on this medicine.
  • While receiving tobramycin, it is important to drink plenty of fluids. Patients should follow the care team’s instructions for appropriate fluid intake. Patients may receive IV fluids.
  • Report any changes in hearing while receiving tobramycin.
  • Patients should tell their doctor if they are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Finish all doses of the medicine as instructed by a doctor or pharmacist.

Tobramycin at home:

  • Store liquid tobramycin (for IV use) in a refrigerator. An hour before use, remove the dose and place at room temperature before giving by IV.
  • Eye drops or ointment:
    • Wash hands before and after using drops. Do not touch the end of the dropper to the eye, finger, or other surface. 
    • Tilt head back, and use your index finger to pull lower lid down to form a pouch. Gently squeeze the bottle to give the correct amount. Close the eye and keep closed for one minute.
    • Store at room temperature.
  • Inhaled form:
    • Use the appropriate device for the inhaled medicine as instructed by a doctor or pharmacist.
    • Store liquid for the nebulizer in the refrigerator or at room temperature. Protect from light.
    • Store capsules for the inhaler device in at room temperature. Keep capsules in foil package until ready to use. Do not swallow the capsule.
  • In case of a missed dose, give the missed dose as soon as possible. If it is near the time for the next dose, skip the dose. Do not give 2 doses at the same time.
  • Do not use the medicine past the expiration date.
  • Follow instructions for safe storage and disposal.