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What is Neomycin?

Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers

Neomycin is an antibiotic that is typically used to reduce the chances of infection during bowel surgery, though it can also decrease some of the symptoms associated with a hepatic coma. It is considered dangerous to patients who are pregnant or suffering from kidney disease, any bowel disease, hearing loss, or neuromuscular disorders. It may be used by children in some cases, such as to treat diarrhea, hepatic coma, hepatic encephalopathy, and to prepare for bowel surgery. Its most common side effects are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Though neomycin can help some patients greatly, it is also somewhat dangerous to those with certain conditions. For example, patients with kidney damage or hearing loss should be cautious when taking this medication, since it has been known to make these issues worse in some cases. Older patients, and those who are dehydrated, may also notice kidney damage, hearing loss, or nerve problems once they begin taking neomycin. Finally, it should be known that patients who are also taking neuromuscular blocking medications or anesthetics are at risk for developing breathing issues or even paralysis when they add neomycin to their treatment regimen. Perhaps not surprisingly, this medication is a pregnancy category D drug, so it is not to be taken by pregnant women.


The most common side effects are somewhat minor, as they include diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. More serious side effects include seizures, dizziness, hearing problems, and severe diarrhea that lasts for days. Some signs that a patient is allergic to this drug range from hives and a skin rash, to facial swelling and difficulty breathing. A doctor should be notified about any of these side effects, as the medication may need to be decreased or discontinued by the patient.

Neomycin is typically supposed to be taken at the same time everyday, with a glass of water, for the entire amount of time indicated by the doctor. Doubling up on a missed dose is not recommended since overdose could occur, with symptoms such as muscles that twitch, seizures, reduced urination, hearing loss, and numbness of the body. To prevent these symptoms, patients are advised to take the dose as soon as possible after forgetting about it, and avoid ingesting two doses around the same time. It should also be noted that patients should mention to their doctor any other medications, herbs, or vitamins that they are taking since neomycin often interacts negatively with many types of these kinds of pills.

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