What is Rifabutin?

Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Rifabutin capsules can be sprinkled on applesauce to make the medication easier to take.
Rifabutin capsules can be sprinkled on applesauce to make the medication easier to take.

Rifabutin is an antibiotic used to target bacterial infections. Specifically, it is used to prevent or treat a disease called Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) in patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It may also sometimes be used to treat tuberculosis in HIV patients.

People with suppressed immune systems, such as HIV patients, are at a high risk for contracting Mycobacterium avium complex. Typical symptoms can include night sweats, fever, and fatigue as well as weight loss and an enlarged spleen. Rifabutin may help alleviate these symptoms by slowing the growth of the bacteria. A doctor may prescribe it along with another antibiotic.

Rifabutin is a type of antibiotic that is used to treat tuberculosis in patients with HIV.
Rifabutin is a type of antibiotic that is used to treat tuberculosis in patients with HIV.

This drug is available in capsules taken orally. Patients should take the dosage on an empty stomach at least two hours after meals or one hour prior to them. If they experience stomach upset, nausea, or vomiting, patients may ask their doctors about taking the pill with food. With a doctor's approval, patients may empty the contents of the capsule into a small container of applesauce. They should then consume all of the applesauce to ensure they receive the full dosage of rifabutin.

Rifabutin can reduce the effectiveness of hormonal birth control pills.
Rifabutin can reduce the effectiveness of hormonal birth control pills.

Patients must be careful to follow the prescription instructions exactly. It is usually taken once or twice daily. If a patient overdoses, he will require immediate medical attention. Symptoms of a possible rifabutin overdose can include stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting as well as a headache.

Other serious side effects that require a doctor's immediate care include difficulty breathing, hives, and facial swelling. Some patients may notice weakness, severe skin itching, and flu-like symptoms. Others have experienced eye pain or vision loss as well.

Rifabutin may cause nausea and vomiting.
Rifabutin may cause nausea and vomiting.

Less serious side effects may include loss of appetite, bloating, and belching. Mild nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can also occur. Sometimes, a red, brown, or orange discoloration of the body fluids, excrement, or skin is noticeable. This includes tears, sweat, and urine as well as saliva. Patients should avoid wearing contact lenses or dentures during this time, as permanent discoloration may occur.

Before taking rifabutin, patients should disclose other drugs they are taking or existing medical conditions they have. They should use a non-hormonal method of birth control, as the drug will render hormonal birth control methods less effective. This medication is not expected to cause birth defects, but it is unknown if it passes into breast milk. Patients should promptly inform their doctors if they become pregnant or if they are breastfeeding while taking rifabutin.

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    • Rifabutin capsules can be sprinkled on applesauce to make the medication easier to take.
      By: rimglow
      Rifabutin capsules can be sprinkled on applesauce to make the medication easier to take.
    • Rifabutin is a type of antibiotic that is used to treat tuberculosis in patients with HIV.
      By: ACphoto
      Rifabutin is a type of antibiotic that is used to treat tuberculosis in patients with HIV.
    • Rifabutin can reduce the effectiveness of hormonal birth control pills.
      By: Kimberly Reinick
      Rifabutin can reduce the effectiveness of hormonal birth control pills.
    • Rifabutin may cause nausea and vomiting.
      By: Marin Conic
      Rifabutin may cause nausea and vomiting.