Aztreonam is an antibiotic developed to combat many types of gram-negative aerobic bacterium. People with an allergy to penicillin can safely use this antibiotic. Unlike other antibiotics, this medicine cannot be utilized by the body when taken orally, and is most often injected into a large muscle or a vein. Patients with cystic fibrosis also inhale a dry powdered form of the medication through a high-powered nebulizer.
This medication is classified as a monobactum antibiotic. These differ from other beta-lactum antibiotics because of the unique structure of their nucleus. They are monocyclic, meaning they do not have a double-layered ring that is typical of most other antibiotics in use.
The monobactum antibiotic works by preventing the growth of bacteria found in the body. Gram-negative bacterium is unable to synthesize necessary parts of its cell wall, leaving it susceptible to destruction. Aztreonam is not able to kill gram-positive bacterium due to the lack of binding sites that the medication needs to be effective.
Aztreonam is prescribed for a number of infections. It is used effectively for most urinary tract infections and many lower respiratory tract infections. The antibiotic is successful for treating most cases of cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection. Physicians have prescribed it for both septicemia and peritonitis, an intra-abdominal infection. Pelvic cellulitis and endrometritis infections have responded well to treatment with aztreonam.
During treatment with aztreonam, blood tests will be done to determine liver and kidney function. Elevated creatine serum levels would indicate a need for treatment with an alternative antibiotic. In addition, the antibiotic can be passed in small amounts through breast milk, and is not recommended for use during pregnancy.
The minor side effects of aztreonam can include nausea and vomiting. Some people report diarrhea and a persistent headache. It is not uncommon to experience swelling, redness, and itching at the site of the injection. The medicine needs to be taken regularly throughout the day to maintain optimum bactericidal levels. Some patients may need to take a regimen of aztreonam for several weeks to ensure the bacterial infection is cured.
A physician should be notified if any more serious side effects are noticed, such as darkened urine or a yellowing of the eyes that would indicate elevated liver enzymes. If confusion, tinnitus, or easy bruising occurs, the antibiotic may need to be discontinued. Some people may have severe fatigue or chest pain, and both should be reported immediately to the doctor. Rarely, an irregular heartbeat is caused by taking aztreonam.