Chloramphenicol is used to treat certain severe bacterial infections. Generally, its use is restricted to cases where other antibiotics cannot be used.


What is Chloramphenicol?

Chloramphenicol interferes in the protein synthesis in bacteria. It is used primarily as a bacteriostatic agent.


How should Chloramphenicol be taken?

Chloramphenicol is administered directly into the vein and the treatment is done in the hospital. Generally, it should be administered every six hours and its duration varies from case to case. At the time when the patient's condition has improved, the physician may decide to complete their therapy by prescribing another antibiotic.


Side effects associated with Chloramphenicol

In premature babies, infants and children whose mothers have received chloramphenicol during labor, the drug may cause the so-called gray baby syndrome. Symptoms may occur 3-4 days after treatment and typically include swelling of the stomach, vomiting, cyanosis, low blood pressure and breathing difficulties. In the worst cases, this condition can be fatal.


Among the other possible side effects of chloramphenicol include the following:


  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sores on the tongue or in the mouth
  • Headache
  • Depression
  • Confusion


It is important to contact a doctor immediately if the therapy with chloramphenicol triggers:


  • Urticaria
  • Rash
  • Itch
  • Swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles or calves
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Liquid stool or blood
  • Stomach cramps
  • Pain or muscle weakness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Numbness, pain or tingling in the arms or legs
  • Sudden vision problems
  • Pain when moving eyes


Contraindications and warnings associated with the use of Chloramphenicol

Before treatment with chloramphenicol, it is important to tell your doctor if:


  • You have any allergies to the active substance or any of its excipients
  • You have received any previous treatment with chloramphenicol
  • You are taking any other medications, herbal remedies or supplements. Mentioning in particular:  anticoagulants, aztreonam, cephalosporins, vitamin B12, folic acid, iron supplements, oral agents, phenobarbital, phenytoin, rifampin, and medications that can reduce the number of blood cells
  • You are suffering (or have suffered) from kidney or liver disease
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding


It is important to inform surgeons or dentists of any ongoing treatment with chloramphenicol.