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Rifaximin for liver problems


Take one 550 mg tablet, twice daily (Targaxan® brand).

The tablets may make your urine look a pink colour - this is normal and harmless.

The most common side-effects of rifaximin are feeling sick (nausea), feeling dizzy and headache.

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About rifaximin

Type of medicine

A rifamycin antibiotic

Used for

To prevent episodes of hepatic encephalitis in liver disease

Also called


Available as


Rifaximin is an antibiotic which works within the gastrointestinal system. It is given to help prevent episodes of a problem called hepatic encephalitis in people with liver disease. Hepatic encephalitis can cause a range of symptoms. These include confusion, personality changes, and changes in alertness.

Another brand of rifaximin tablets, called Xifaxanta®, is used to treat traveller's diarrhoea. If you have been prescribed it for this reason, please see the separate leaflet called Rifaximin for traveller's diarrhoea.

Before taking rifaximin

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 rifaximin it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby, or breastfeeding.

  • If you are very constipated or think you may have a blocked bowel.

  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.

  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.

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How to take rifaximin

  • Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about rifaximin and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.

  • Take rifaximin exactly as your doctor tells you to. The usual dose is one 550 mg tablet twice daily.

  • Swallow the tablets with a drink of water. It is not important whether you take your dose before or after food. The tablets may make your urine look a pink colour - this is harmless.

  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If when you remember, it is nearly time for your next dose then leave out the missed dose and take your next dose when it is due. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.

Getting the most from your treatment

  • Remember to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.

  • Continue to take rifaximin unless your doctor tells you to stop. Otherwise your symptoms may return.

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Can rifaximin 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 rifaximin when taken for liver problems. 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 rifaximin side-effects

(these affect fewer than 1 in 10 people)

What can I do if I experience this?

Feeling sick (nausea), gastrointestinal upset, tummy (abdominal) discomfort

Stick to simple foods - avoid rich or spicy meals

Feeling dizzy

Do not drive and do not use tools or machines while you feel dizzy


Drink plenty of water and ask your doctor to recommend a suitable painkiller

Feeling depressed, feeling short of breath, itchy rash, swollen feet or ankles, muscle cramps or pains

If any of these become troublesome, discuss them with your doctor

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the tablets, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

How to store rifaximin

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.

  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Important information about all medicines

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 are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.

If you buy any medicines, always check with a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take with your other medicines.

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.

Report side effects to a medicine or vaccine

If you experience side effects, you can report them online through the Yellow Card website.

Further reading and references

Article history

The information on this page is written and peer reviewed by qualified clinicians.

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