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Brand names:

Vancocin®, Firvanq™

Often used for:

Certain types of infections

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About Vancomycin

Vancomycin 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). Vancomycin dose changes may occur based on levels in the blood.

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May be taken as liquid or capsule by mouth

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May be given as a liquid into a vein by IV

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Possible Side Effects

  • Decreased kidney function
  • Decreased urine output
  • Flushed or red color of the upper body (“Red Man Syndrome” with IV form)
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Back pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Ringing in the ears or hearing loss
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble standing

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 vancomycin 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.

  • If a patient experiences “Red Man Syndrome” with IV vancomycin, the infusion may be done more slowly and/or an antihistamine medication (such as diphenhydramine) may be given.
  • Let a doctor know if the patient urinates less often than normal or has severe diarrhea while on this medicine.
  • Finish all doses of the medicine as instructed by a doctor.

Vancomycin at Home:

  • Store liquid vancomycin (for oral administration and for IV use) in a refrigerator.
  • Store capsules at room temperature.