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What Is Amikacin?

By Meshell Powell
Updated May 17, 2024
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Amikacin is an injectible medication used to treat a variety of bacterial infections. This drug is administered by a health care professional and introduced into a vein or muscle. In many cases, the patient receiving amikacin is hospitalized, and the medication is injected every few hours as prescribed by a doctor. Some of the most common side effects associated with the use of this drug include irritation at the injection site, nerve damage, and reduced kidney function. Specific questions or concerns about the use of amikacin in an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

While amikacin can be used to treat many different types of bacterial infections, it is normally used for severe infections that have not responded well to more commonly used antibiotics. Staph infections as well as those caused by E. coli are frequently treated with this antibiotic, especially in a hospital setting. The medication is injected into a muscle or vein several times per day as directed by the prescribing physician and may be used alone or in combination with other antibiotics.

Pain, swelling, and redness at the site of the injection are the most commonly reported side effect of amikacin and usually disappears within a few hours following administration of the drug. If symptoms persist or worsen, a member of the medical staff should be notified to make sure there are no complications. Headaches, fever, and nausea are also among the possible side effects of amikacin.

Nerve damage is often caused by the use of amikacin, so it is important to report any new symptoms to a doctor for further evaluation. Some of the specific results of this type of nerve damage include balance problems, hearing loss, or breathing difficulty. Partial or complete paralysis is a possible complication of this drug, especially if used for a prolonged period of time.

Renal impairment may occur among those taking amikacin, so those with kidney disease may not be able to safely use this medication. If diagnosed in the earliest stages, kidney function may return to normal after the drug has been discontinued. In the most severe cases, permanent damage to the kidneys may occur, requiring dialysis or transplant in order to save the life of the patient. Periodic blood tests are often performed during a course of treatment with this antibiotic so that any changes in kidney function can be detected right away.

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