Before you take cefuroxime, make sure your doctor knows if you have ever had an allergic reaction to any other antibiotic.
Space your doses out evenly over the day and complete the full course of the antibiotic, even if you feel your infection has cleared up.The most common side-effect is diarrhoea, which is usually mild and soon passes. If it becomes severe or lasts for more than 24 hours, you should speak with your doctor.
|Type of medicine||A cephalosporin antibiotic|
|Used for||Treatment (or prevention) of infection|
|Also called||Britacef®; Zinacef®; Zinnat®|
|Available as||Tablets, oral liquid medicine and injection|
Cefuroxime is a broad-spectrum antibiotic, which means that it is active against a wide variety of bacteria. It is used to treat bacterial infections such as urinary tract infections, skin infections, chest infections, ear infections and sinusitis. It is also given before some surgical operations, to prevent an infection from occurring. Cefuroxime treats an infection by killing the bacteria that are causing it.
Cefuroxime is suitable for adults and children, and can be taken during pregnancy. Some people who are allergic to penicillin antibiotics may not be able to take cefuroxime, so make sure your doctor knows if you have ever had an allergic reaction to any other antibiotic.
Before taking cefuroxime
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking cefuroxime it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine. It is particularly important that you tell your doctor if you have had a bad reaction to a penicillin or cephalosporin antibiotic.
- If you have any problems with the way your kidneys work.
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding. (Although cefuroxime is not known to be harmful to babies, it is still important that you tell your doctor if you are expecting or breast-feeding a baby.)
- If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
How to take cefuroxime
- Before you start taking cefuroxime, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The manufacturer's leaflet will give you more information about the antibiotic and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
- You should take cefuroxime exactly as your doctor tells you to. There are two strengths of cefuroxime tablets available: 125 mg and 250 mg. It is usual to be prescribed either 125 mg or 250 mg to be taken twice a day, although doses can be higher than this for severe infections. Your doctor will tell you what dose is right for you (or your child), and this information will be printed on the label of the pack to remind you. If you have been given liquid medicine, read the directions carefully to make sure you measure out the correct amount of medicine. Your doctor will also tell you how long your course of treatment will last - this is commonly about 5-7 days.
- Take your doses with a snack, or just after eating a meal. Swallow the tablets with a drink of water. Do not chew or break the tablets.
- Space your doses out evenly throughout the day. Keep taking the antibiotic until the course is finished unless you are told to stop. Taking the full course is important (even if you feel your infection has cleared up) in order to prevent the infection from coming back.
- If you forget to take a dose, take one as soon as you remember. Try to take the correct number of doses each day, but do not take two doses at the same time to make up.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Some people develop thrush (redness and itching in the mouth or vagina) after taking a course of antibiotics. If you think you have thrush speak with your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
- If you are using oral combined hormonal contraception (the 'pill'), additional contraceptive precautions such as condoms are recommended for a time if you have vomiting or diarrhoea which lasts for more than 24 hours. If you need further advice about this, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
- If you are having an operation or any other medical treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking an antibiotic. This is because cefuroxime may interfere with the results of some tests to check for sugar in your urine.
- Cefuroxime may stop the oral typhoid vaccine from working. If you are having any vaccinations, make sure the person treating you knows that you are taking this antibiotic.
Can cefuroxime cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with cefuroxime. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Common cefuroxime side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who take this medicine||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Diarrhoea||Drink plenty of water to replace any lost fluids. If the diarrhoea continues for longer than 24 hours, or becomes severe or contains blood, let your doctor know straightaway|
|Feeling sick, abdominal discomfort||Stick to simple foods. Make sure you take your doses after meals|
|Headache||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
|Feeling dizzy||Do not drive or use tools or machines until you feel better|
|Changes to some blood tests (these are temporary)||Speak with your doctor if you have concerns about this|
|Skin rash, and other allergic-type reactions||Let your doctor know as soon as possible, as your treatment may need to be changed|
Important: if you develop an itchy rash, swollen face or mouth, or have difficulty breathing, these can be signs that you are allergic to the antibiotic. Do not take any more cefuroxime and speak with your doctor or go to your local accident and emergency department straightaway.
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store cefuroxime
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
- If you have been given liquid medicine, store it in a refrigerator. It will have been made up by the pharmacy and lasts for 10 days, so remember to check the expiry date on the bottle and do not use it after this date.
Important information about all medicines
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with your other medicines.
If you are having an operation or any dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading & references
- Manufacturer's PIL, Zinnat® Tablets; GlaxoSmithKline UK, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated June 2013.
- British National Formulary; 66th Edition (September 2013) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Dr Helen Huins