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What Is Piperacillin and Tazobactam?

By Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Updated May 17, 2024
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Piperacillin and tazobactam is a generic medication commonly marketed under the brand name Zosyn®. It is a combination medication composed of two different drugs, which are intended to treat bacterial infections. Piperacillin is an antibiotic that fights bacteria, while tazobactam is a type of enzyme inhibitor that enhances the effect of the antibiotic.

This medication is available only as an injection, usually given at a hospital or clinic. Each dose must be administered over the course of at least 30 minutes. Patients are typically prescribed a dose every six hours. Those who administer piperacillin and tazobactam at home will be given specific instructions on giving themselves a dose intravenously, or into a vein. The frozen medication must first be thawed completely in a refrigerator, and then allowed to sit at room temperature for an hour before being thoroughly shaken.

Certain precautions should be taken while using piperacillin and tazobactam to treat a bacterial infection. There is a risk of developing a secondary infection, which may require a different medication for treatment. Diabetic patients should be aware that this drug can affect blood sugar levels and may also cause inaccuracies in glucose tests, as well as certain laboratory tests. Piperacillin and tazobactam can also inhibit the ability of the blood to clot, so activities with a high risk of injury should be avoided. Women taking birth control pills should also use a barrier method of birth control, because this medicine can lower the efficacy of the pills.

Some side effects may occur with the use of piperacillin and tazobactam, which should be reported to the prescribing physician if they are troublesome or persistent. Patients may experience insomnia, headache, and dizziness, which may be worsened by the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may also occur. Some patients have reported redness, swelling, or pain at the injection site.

Piperacillin and tazobactam may also cause more serious side effects, which require emergency medical care. Severe and persistent diarrhea, bloody stool, and muscle spasms have been reported. Some patients have developed vaginal or oral yeast infections. Chest pain, irregular heartbeat, and changes in the amount of urine have also occurred. Other serious side effects can include extreme fatigue, seizures, and swelling of the limbs or extremities.

Before using piperacillin and tazobactam, patients must disclose their other medical conditions, medications, and supplements. Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should discuss possible risks with their doctors. Piperacillin and tazobactam may be contraindicated for use by those who have kidney disease, cystic fibrosis, or those who are on a salt-restricted diet. It may interact with other drugs, including diuretics, blood thinners, and chemotherapy drugs.

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