- Drug List
- Side Effects
- Drug Interactions
- Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
What are penicillin antibiotics, and what are they used for?
Penicillins are antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections that are derived from the antibiotic penicillin.
Penicillin antibiotics stop bacteria from multiplying by preventing bacteria from forming the walls that surround them. The walls are necessary to protect the bacteria from their environment, and to keep the contents of the bacterial cell together. Bacteria cannot survive without a cell wall. Penicillin antibiotics are most effective when bacteria are actively multiplying and forming cell walls.
Today, many derivatives of penicillin have been developed that inhibit more types of bacteria than the original life-saving drug. Penicillin itself is active against
- streptococci (including Streptococcus pneumoniae),
- Listeria, Neisseria gonorrhoeae,
- Peptococcus, and
However, most staphylococci now are resistant to penicillin.
Other penicillin antibiotics are effective against
- H. influenzae,
- E. coli, pneumococci,
- certain strains of staphylococci,
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and
- many other types of bacteria.
Penicillin antibiotics are used to treat many types of infections caused by susceptible bacteria. They are used to treat infections of the middle ear, sinuses, stomach and intestines, bladder, and kidney. They also are used for treating
- blood infections (sepsis),
- uncomplicated gonorrhea,
- endocarditis, and
- other serious infections.
In 1928, Alexander Fleming noted that mold belonging to the genus Penicillium inhibited the growth of bacteria. Fleming called this unknown antibacterial substance penicillin. Ten years later, a group at Oxford University began to investigate penicillin in laboratory mice. Penicillin was hailed as a miracle drug and saved countless lives in World War II.
What are examples of penicillin antibiotics available in the U.S.?
- penicillin V
- penicillin G (Pfizerpen, Permapen)
- amoxicillin (Amoxil)
- amoxicillin/clavulonate (Augmentin)
- ampicillin (Unasyn)
- nafcillin (Nallpen)
- oxacillin (Bactocill)
- dicloxacillin (Dycill, Dynapen are discontinued brands in the US; generic is available)
- cloxacillin (discontinued in the US)
- piperacillin (Pipracil)
- piperacillin/tazobactam (Zosyn)
- ticarcillin (Ticar) (Discontinued in the US; ; generic is not available))
- ticarcillin/clavulonate (Timentin) (Discontinued in the US and a generic is not available.)
What are the side effects of penicillin antibiotics?
Side effects of penicillin antibiotics include
- abdominal pain,
- easy bruising,
- rash, and
- allergic reactions.
Individuals who are allergic to the cephalosporin class of antibiotics, which are related to the penicillins, for example, cefaclor (Ceclor), cephalexin (Keflex), and cefprozil (Cefzil), may or may not be allergic to penicillins.
Serious but rare reactions include
- kidney problems,
- oral fungal infections,
- severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), and
- low blood platelet levels (thrombocytopenia) or red blood cell count.
Like other antibiotics, penicillin antibiotics can alter the normal bacteria in the colon and encourage overgrowth of some bacteria such as Clostridium difficile, which causes inflammation of the colon (C. difficile colitis or pseudomembranous colitis).
Signs and symptoms of C. difficile colitis include
What drugs interact with penicillin antibiotics?
Penicillin antibiotics have few important drug interactions.
- Probenecid (Benemid) causes an increase in the amount of penicillins in the body by preventing excretion of penicillin by the kidneys.
- Combining ampicillin with allopurinol (Zyloprim) can increase the incidence of drug-related skin rash.
- Penicillin antibiotics may reduce the effect of BCG live vaccine and typhoid live vaccine.
Are penicillin antibiotics safe to take during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?
Penicillin antibiotics are prescribed to treat a variety of types of infections. For example, middle ear and sinus infections; bladder, stomach, intestines, and kidney; pneumonia; sepsis; meningitis; endocarditis; and many other serious infections. Examples of penicillin antibiotics, side effects, drug interactions, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety information should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
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Drug or medication allergies are caused when the immune system mistakenly creates an immune response to a medication. Symptoms of a drug allergic reaction include hives, rash, itchy skin or eyes, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, fainting, and anxiety. The most common drugs that people are allergic to include penicillins and penicillin type drugs, sulfa drugs, insulin, and iodine. Treatment may involve antihistamines or corticosteroids. An EpiPen may be used for life-threatening anaphylactic symptoms.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Pregnancy (STDs)
When you are pregnant, many sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can be especially harmful to you and your baby. These STDs include herpes, HIV/AIDS, genital warts (HPV), hepatitis B, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis. Symptoms include bumps, sores, warts, swelling, itching, or redness in the genital region. Treatment of STDs while pregnant depends on how far along you are in the pregnancy and the progression of the infection.
Encephalitis vs Meningitis: Differences
The diseases, encephalitis and meningitis, have striking similarities with each other. But they differ from each other by a few of their symptoms, causes, their types, and their treatment.
How Do You Know if You Have Meningitis?
Meningitis is a potentially life-threatening inflammation of the layers of tissue and fluid that cover the spine and brain. Learn the signs of meningitis, what causes it, how doctors diagnose it, and what you can do to treat it.
How Do I Know if My Child has Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a lung infection that affects many children. Learn the signs of pneumonia in children, what causes pneumonia in children, how doctors diagnose pneumonia in children, and what you can do to treat pneumonia in children.
Where Does Bacterial Meningitis Come From?
Bacterial meningitis is characterized by inflammation around your brain and spinal cord that leads to dangerous — and sometimes deadly — pressure in this area. Bacterial meningitis comes from person-to-person contact with an infected person.
Tips for Managing Type 1 and 2 Diabetes at Home
Managing your diabetes is a full time commitment. The goal of diabetic therapy is to control blood glucose levels and prevent the complications of diabetes. Information about exercise, diet, and medication will help you manage your diabetes better. Blood glucose reagent strips, blood glucose meters, urine glucose tests, tests for urinary ketones, continuous glucose sensors, and Hemoglobin A1C testing information will enable you to mange your diabetes at home successfully.
Can You Get UTI Antibiotics Over the Counter?
Currently, no urinary tract infection (UTI) antibiotics are available over the counter (OTC) in the United States. A person must consult a doctor to get the UTI treated with an antibiotic.
Meningitis: Symptoms,Treatment, and More
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane (meninges) surrounding the brain and spinal cord and is characterized by an abnormal number of white blood cells in the cerebrospinal fluid. Meninges act as a protective layer to the brain and spinal cord.
Can COVID-19 Cause Pneumonia?
In some cases, COVID-19 can cause life-threatening lung complications such as pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and sepsis.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane (meninges) surrounding the brain and spinal cord and is characterized by an abnormal number of white blood cells in the cerebrospinal fluid. Meninges act as a protective layer to the brain and spinal cord.
Do All Patients With COVID-19 Get Pneumonia?
According to the CDC, about 3%-17% of patients with COVID-19 develop lung-related complications that require hospitalization, such as pneumonia.
Bronchitis vs. Pneumonia
Bronchitis and pneumonia both affect breathing and cause coughing, but there are key differences between causes, symptoms, and treatment.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Bacterial Meningitis?
Signs of bacterial meningitis include sudden onset fever, nausea, vomiting, severe headache, neck stiffness, double vision, confusion, and photophobia.
How Is Meningitis Diagnosed and Treated?
If the doctor suspects you have meningitis, you will be hospitalized immediately for proper testing and to manage the illness. The treatment and care will depend on the type of meningitis the patient has and how unwell the patient is.
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Urinary Tract Infection FAQs
- Pneumonia FAQs
- Strep Streptococcal Throat Infection FAQs
- Ear Infection FAQs
- Meningitis FAQs
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- Medication Disposal
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- How Long Is Pneumonia Contagious?
- Oral Gonorrhea Symptoms
- Pneumonia Symptoms
- Appendicitis Treatment with Antibiotics
- Antibiotics 101
- Pneumonia Treatment
- Pneumonia vs. Walking Pneumonia
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
- Fungal Meningitis and Steroid Injections: A Healthcare Disease
Medications & Supplements
- metronidazole antibiotic
- Which Antibiotic Is Best for An Ear Infection?
- Augmentin (amoxicillin/clavulanic acid, Augmentin XR, Augmentin ES-600, Amoclan)
- Cipro, Cipro XR
- Levaquin (levofloxacin) Antibiotic
- Steroid and antibiotic eye drops (Blephamide)
- piperacillin and tazobactam
- antibiotic-anesthetic-steroid-rectal ointment
- penicillin V
- Linezolid (Zyvox) Antibiotic Side Effects, Dosage, and Mechanism of Action
- What Is Intravenous-to-Oral Switch Therapy?
- penicillin G benzathine (Bicillin L-A)
- Side Effects of Vancomycin Injection
- penicillin V potassium (Beepen-VK, V-Cillin-K)
- Cipro (ciprofloxacin) Side Effects, Warnings, and Interactions
- antibiotic/anesthetic/steroid-rectal suppositories
- Why Are Antibiotics Given Before Cutaneous Surgery?
- penicillin v potassium - oral liquid, Pen-Vee K, Veetids
- penicillin g benzathine/penicillin g procaine - injection, Bicillin C-R
- Prophylactic Antibiotics for Head and Neck Surgery
- combination antibiotic - topical
- Suprax (cefixime) Side Effects, Warnings, and Drug Interactions
- Side Effects of Bicillin C-R (penicillin g benzathine/penicillin g procaine)
Prevention & Wellness
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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.