Meds and you

Updated 11 February 2013

Gentamycin

Gentamycin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic.

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(Also known as Gentamicin)

Gentamycin is the active ingredient of Aspen Gentamicin, Garamycin, Gentamycin Sulphate-Fresenius, Merck-Gentamicin Sulphate, Micro Gentamicin, Palacos R with Garamycin, Rolab-Gentamycin, Sabax Gentamix IV, Sandoz Gentamicin and Septopal.

Gentamycin is also one of multiple active ingredients found in Diprogenta, Quadriderm and Septopal.

General information

Gentamycin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic. It is, however, not effective in treating anaerobic infections (that is, infections occurring in the absence of oxygen) and is often combined with other antibiotics to extend its spectrum of efficacy.

Gentamycin 'teams up' favourably with penicillin antibiotics. Penicillin weakens bacterial cell walls, thereby granting gentamycin access into bacterial cells.

This antibiotic is poorly absorbed when taken by mouth and is generally only used as an injection or as a topical application.

Gentamycin is effective in treating infections of the lungs, urinary tract, bones and joints, soft tissue, intra-abdominal infections, meningitis and septicaemia caused by organisms sensitive to gentamycin.

It is important to note that this medication is only effective against bacterial infections - if your infection is the result of a viral or fungal infection, it will be ineffective.

Gentamycin has a very narrow margin of safety, meaning that the toxic concentration of this drug is only slightly higher than its therapeutic dose.

The toxicity of gentamycin and other similar antibiotics may have severe effects on the ears. This includes permanent hearing loss, balance disturbances and/or ringing in the ears. If used by injection, use should be reserved for severe infections and patients should be monitored closely, while treatment should be for as short a period as possible.

How does gentamycin work?

Gentamycin forms part of the aminoglycoside group of antibiotics. It kills bacteria as a result of abnormal protein production in the bacterial cell (that is, it cannot produce any of its proteins correctly) and also as a result of damage to the bacterial cell membrane.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 4

Available as: gentamycin is available as injection and powder

What does it do? this medication has an antibiotic action

Overdose risk: high

Dependence risk: low

Is gentamycin available as a generic? yes

Is gentamycin available on prescription only? yes

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have a kidney disease
  • you have a hearing disorder
  • you have myasthenia gravis
  • you have Parkinson's disease
  • you are taking other medication

Pregnancy: avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.

Breastfeeding: avoid. This medication is passed through breast milk and may affect your baby adversely. Consult your doctor before use.

Porphyria: this medication is safe to use.

Infants and children: this medication should only be used as prescribed by a paediatrician.

Elderly: caution is advised in the elderly and a reduced dose may be needed.

Possible side effects

Side effect

Frequency

Consult your doctor

Common

Rare

Only if severe

In all cases

nausea and vomiting

x

x

dizziness

x

x

vertigo

x

x

hearing loss

x

x

tremors

x

x

headache

x

x

skin rash/ itchy skin

x

x

ringing in the ear

x

x

bloody or cloudy urine

x

x

Interactions

Drug interactions

amphoterecin B

increased risk of kidney toxicity

warfarin

increased risk of bleeding

biphosphonates

inceased risk of low calcium levels

vancomycin/ aminoglycoside antibiotics

increased risk of hearing loss and kidney toxicity

oral contraceptives

risk of contraceptive failure

furosemide

increased risk of hearing loss

suxamethonium

risk of respiratory depression

neostigmine/pyridostigmine

reduced effect

Disease interactions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if you have a kidney or liver disease, you have a hearing disorder, you have myasthenia gravis or if you have Parkinson's disease.

Recommended dosage

Adults: 5-6mg/kg given every 12 hours

Children: Only as prescribed by a paediatrician

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.

 

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