What Is Cefadroxil?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Cefadroxil is an antibiotic belonging to a group of drugs called the cephalosporins. It is most often used to treat children and adults with infections of the tonsils, skin or urinary tract. Not all patients will be prescribed this medication, especially if they have allergies to other related antibiotics or have certain medical conditions. Additionally, this drug has some benign and serious side effects.

Cefadroxil can be used to treat bronchitis.
Cefadroxil can be used to treat bronchitis.

Generally, cefadroxil is judged safe for children and adults. It comes in suspension forms for young children and tablets for older patients. Dosage depends on age, weight, and condition. A maximum adult dose might be as high as 500 milligrams (mg) per day for certain infections, though pediatric maximum doses are much lower, at approximately 100-200 mg per day.

Physicians may consider cefadroxil for certain conditions, and the drug is commonly used for urinary tract infections, skin infections and tonsillitis. It also may be prescribed for conditions like bronchitis and sinusitis. The medication can be used prophylactically, prior to dental procedures, to prevent bacterial endocarditis, too.

If a patient is allergic to penicillin or cephalosporins, cefadroxil isn’t the best choice. There is a higher risk in these patients that the drug will cause anaphylactic shock. This severe allergy — evidenced by hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the mouth, lips, and tongue — is extremely dangerous. Should it occur, the patient taking cefadroxil needs emergency medical treatment.

Most other people may be able to use cefadroxil without problems. It tends to be considered safe in pregnancy and for breastfeeding mothers. On the other hand, the drug may need to be prescribed in lower amounts for people with liver or kidney disease. Patients who have previously had colitis are at elevated risk for developing severe gastrointestinal distress from most cephalosporins. In this case, drugs from other antibiotic groups might be recommended, instead.

Like all drugs, this antibiotic is associated with certain side effects. The most dangerous of these is arguably the above-mentioned allergic reaction. Other adverse effects that require immediate medical attention include sudden flu-like symptoms with a rash that peels, bleeding or bruising that can’t be attributed to a direct cause, and jaundice. Patients should also watch for significant reduction in urinary output, pronounced thirst, or extreme diarrhea that may contain blood.

The benign side effects of cefadroxil include loose stools or nausea. Patients may also develop vaginal yeast infections or thrush when taking almost any antibiotic. Some patients who use this drug get a minor rash. Other reported adverse effects are pain in the joints or muscle stiffness.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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