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What Are the Most Common Ethambutol Side Effects?

By Meshell Powell
Updated May 17, 2024
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Most ethambutol side effects are considered mild and do not pose any significant health risks, although any bothersome symptoms that develop after beginning treatment with this antibiotic should be reported to a doctor for further evaluation. Some of the most frequently reported ethambutol side effects include dizziness, headaches, and nausea. More serious side effects of this medication that should be reported to a doctor right away include vision changes, abdominal pain, and yellowing of the skin or eyes. Allergic reactions may lead to skin rash, difficulty breathing, and loss of consciousness. Questions or concerns about possible ethambutol side effects should be discussed with a doctor or pharmacist.

Dizziness and mild disorientation are among the most common ethambutol side effects and may lessen as the body adjusts to the medication. Caution should be used when driving or performing other tasks that require intense focus while taking this drug. Nausea, headaches, and loss of appetite may also occur as a result of ethambutol use. Severe vomiting or diarrhea should be reported to a doctor, as complications such as dehydration may develop.

Visual disturbances such as color blindness or blurred vision are potentially serious ethambutol side effects and should be evaluated by a medical professional right away. Severe abdominal pain, especially if accompanied by fever or bloody diarrhea, may indicate gastrointestinal problems such as internal bleeding or an intestinal obstruction. Jaundice is characterized by a yellowing of the skin and eyes and often develops as a result of damage to the liver. Changes in urinary frequency or the presence of dark urine may occur when kidney function has been compromised.

Muscle or joint pain and swollen glands are possible ethambutol side effects. Flu-like symptoms such as sore throat, fever, and nasal congestion have been reported by those taking this medication and may be caused by the development of a new infection or a mild allergy to the drug. Additional signs of a drug allergy may include peeling, blistering skin, or a rash that resembles eczema.

A severe type of allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis is one of the most dangerous potential ethambutol side effects. Hives, facial swelling, and difficulty breathing are among the most common signs of anaphylaxis. Blood pressure levels may drop suddenly, leading to extreme dizziness or loss of consciousness. Emergency medical assistance is vital when symptoms of anaphylaxis develop, as this condition can become fatal within a matter of minutes.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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