Vancomycin: Uses & Side Effects

Vancomycin is an antibiotic. When taken by mouth it fights bacteria in the intestines.

Vancomycin is used to treat an infection of the intestines caused by Clostridium difficile, which can cause watery or bloody diarrhea. It is also used to treat staph infections that can cause inflammation of the colon and small intestines.

Oral vancomycin works only in the intestines. This medicine is not normally absorbed into the body and will not treat other types of infection. An injection form of this medication is available to treat serious infections in other parts of the body.

Before taking this medicine

You should not take this medication if you are allergic to vancomycin.

To make sure vancomycin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • an intestinal disorder such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis;
  • kidney disease;
  • hearing problems; or
  • if you are receiving any IV antibiotics.

FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether vancomycin will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.

Side Effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to vancomycin: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Certain side effects may occur if your body absorbs vancomycin through the intestinal walls. Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • increased diarrhea that is watery or bloody;
  • hearing loss, ringing in your ears;
  • kidney problems–swelling, rapid weight gain, pain in your side or lower back, little or no urinating; or
  • low potassium–confusion, uneven heart rate, extreme thirst, increased urination, leg discomfort, muscle weakness or limp feeling.

Common vancomycin side effects may include:

  • nausea; or
  • stomach pain.


Keyword: Vancomycin.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.