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What Is Rifampicin?

By Meshell Powell
Updated May 17, 2024
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Rifampicin is a prescription medication antibiotic that is primarily used to treat a medical condition known as tuberculosis, although it may also be used to treat other bacterial infections. Available in the form of a tablet, liquid, or injection, this drug works by destroying bacteria responsible for infection. Some of the most frequently reported side effects of rifampicin include discoloration of bodily fluids, nausea, and headaches. More serious complications stemming from the use of rifampicin may include intestinal inflammation, liver damage, or allergic reactions. A doctor should be consulted with any specific questions or concerns about the use of rifampicin in an individual situation.

Tuberculosis is a type of contagious bacterial infection that affects the lungs. Symptoms of this potentially fatal illness may include chest pain, difficulty breathing, and coughing up significant amounts of mucus. Rifampicin is often prescribed in combination with other antibiotics to treat tuberculosis. Additional uses for this medication include the treatment of leprosy, bacterial meningitis, and staph infections. Depending on the age and health of the patient as well as the severity of the condition, this antibiotic may be administered by mouth or through an injection into the bloodstream.

While most people are able to use rifampicin without experiencing significant side effects, any new or bothersome symptoms that develop after beginning treatment with this drug should be reported to a doctor for further evaluation. Bodily fluids such as saliva, tears, and urine may develop a red or orange coloration when taking this medication. Although this side effect is not harmful, dentures or contact lenses may be permanently stained if worn while being treated with this type of antibiotic.

Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea may occur when taking rifampicin and can sometimes become severe enough to require the use of additional medications. Many doctors recommend consuming extra fluids when these symptoms are present in an effort to avoid complications such as dehydration. A mild to moderate headache is considered a normal side effect of this drug, although any sudden or severe headaches should be reported to a member of the medical staff.

Abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, or vomit that resembles coffee grounds may occur as a result of intestinal inflammation or damage and should be treated as a medical emergency. Damage to the liver often causes jaundice, a condition marked by a yellowing of the skin or white portion of the eyes. A severe allergic reaction to rifampicin is possible, even if the medication has been well tolerated in the past, causing symptoms such as facial swelling, difficulty breathing, or loss of consciousness.

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