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Molecule Description

Vancomycin is an antibacterial medication used to treat particular complicated

life threatening infections caused due to antibiotic resistant bacteria. Vancomycin belongs to a class of medicines called ‘glycopeptide antibiotics’ and is strictly to be taken under the supervision of a registered medical practitioner.


Uses of Vancomycin

  • For the treatment and prevention of severe infections caused by gram-positive bacteria (that are sensitive to Vancomycin)
  • Infection of inner lining of the heart (Endocarditis)
  • Infection of the bones (Osteomyelitis)
  • Pneumonia (a type of lung infection)
  • Soft-tissue infections (abscess, ulcers, cellulitis, etc.)
  • Inflammation of intestines and colon caused by staphylococcus aureus
  • Any severe infections caused by gram-positive bacteria that are not responding to other antibiotics (Penicillins, Cephalosporins, etc.)
  • Other severe infections by staphylococci
  • Diarrhea caused by clostridium species (taken orally)
  • Vancomycin is available as a powder which has to be mixed with sterile and taken as infusion (intravenously) and also as capsules
  • In some infections like those caused by clostridium (diarrhea), the powder mixed water can be taken orally
  • Vancomycin should be reserved for complicated and resistant bacterial infections not responding to regular antibiotics

Contraindications of Vancomycin

When should one not use Vancomycin

Do not take if you are intolerant to Vancomycin or any of its ingredients.

Side effects of Vancomycin

Common side effects of this drug are:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Breathlessness, forced breathing producing sounds
  • Rashes of skin and the mouth, itching, hives on the skin
  • Kidney disease
  • Rashes on face, neck and torso (red man’s syndrome)
  • Hearing loss - temporary or permanent (not very common)
  • Decrease in white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets (blood cells responsible for blood clotting)
  • Loss of balance (vertigo), ringing in your ears (tinnitus), dizziness
  • Blood vessel inflammation
  • Nausea (feeling sick)
  • Kidney failure (rare)
  • Chest pain and back pain (rare)

Precautions and Warnings of Vancomycin



Can I take Vancomycin during pregnancy?
Vancomycin crosses the placenta and enters the unborn baby and may cause harmful effects, but it is not known to produce any birth defects. However, as Vancomycin is a lifesaving medicine and hence is used during pregnancy if it is necessary. Please consult your doctor.

Breast Feeding

Can I take Vancomycin while breastfeeding?
Vancomycin is secreted in breast milk and breastfeeding has to be discontinued while using this medicine to prevent any harm to the baby.


Can I drive if I have consumed Vancomycin?
Though Vancomycin does not affect your driving ability, it is usually administered in severe infection and hence driving may not be necessary.


Can I consume alcohol with Vancomycin?
Alcohol can cause side effects similar to those of Vancomycin, such as stomach upset, dizziness and drowsiness.Thus, it is better to avoid it to reduce the intensity of side effects.

Other General Warnings

Talk to your doctor if
  • You have a history of allergic reaction of Teicoplanin (another antibiotic)
  • You have any hearing problems
  • You have a kidney problem
  • You have been receiving Vancomycin for a long time
  • You develop any skin reactions
  • You develop severe or prolonged diarrhea (during or after treatment) to rule out any lower intestine damage (pseudomembranous colitis) due to usage of antibiotics

Mode of Action of Vancomycin

How Does It Work?

Vancomycin is a high-level antibiotic that kills the bacteria by blocking its cell wall synthesis. Without a cell wall, all bacteria die. It is active against only specific bacteria, but not all. It i...
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Interactions of Vancomycin

Interactions with other medicines

  • Other antibiotics (Streptomycin, Gentamicin, Neomycin, Kanamycin, Amikacin, Tobramycin, Bacitracin, Colistin, Polymyxin B)
  • Viomycin (used to treat tuberculosis)
  • Amphotericin B (used to treat fungal infections)
  • Cisplatin (used to treat cancer)
  • Medicines given during anesthesia for muscle relaxation (Suxamethonium or Vecuronium)
  • General anesthesia may enhance the adverse effects of Vancomycin

Interactions with food items

Vancomycin does not interact with food and can be taken before or after meals.

Dosage of Vancomycin


Inform your doctor immediately in case of overdose. High doses can cause kidney and hearing problems. Treatment is based on the symptoms and medical attention may be necessary.

Missed a Dose

Take the missed dose as early as you remember. Skip the missed dose & do not take extra medicine to compensate for the missed dose.

Content Details


Dr. Ritu Budania

MBBS, MD (Pharmacology)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Q: What are the precautions I should take while on Vancomycin?

A: The dosage regimen of the medicine should be followed regularly. The course of medicine should be completed as prescribed. Stopping the medication abruptly may cause drug-resistant infection.

Q: What is pseudomembranous colitis?

A: When antibiotics are used frequently or for a more extended period, they result in the growth of a type of bacteria called clostridium difficile in the lower part of the intestine, which causes diarrhea. Oral Vancomycin is effective against clostridium associated diarrhea.
Last Updated on: 05 Oct 2020 | 10:47 PM (IST)

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