Antibiotics are essentially meds which help you fight against bacteria. These drugs have the needful capabilities to destroy harmful bacteria. However, these drugs are not used for the treatment of viral or fungal infections – such as say, flu, common cold, runny nose, etc. It is your white blood cells that are responsible for fighting microbial attacks. Conditions wherein the extent of infections-causing bacteria outnumbers the white cells can often lead to several medical conditions. Chloramphenicol is one of broad spectrum antibiotics; this drug can treat infections caused by gram negative and gram positive bacteria. It is a wise thing to know about the possible uses of this drug in greater detail.

There are two categories of antibiotics namely, bacteriostatic and bactericidal drugs. Bacteriostatic drug aims to control the infection by arresting the progression and further spread of microbes. On the other hand, bactericidal drug is known for its powers to decimate bacterial strands. These meds can rupture the wall of the microbe or can destroy harmful cells in full. However, it is important to understand the nature of microbial attacks prior to administering an antibiotic. An excessive use of antibiotics can make them powerless over a period of time. Soon, bacteria may turn resistant to the active ingredients of antibiotic drugs.

A broad spectrum antibacterial drug is capable of treating a large spread of infections. Also, there are narrow range antibiotics; as the name suggests – they can treat only a lesser range of infections. Prior to surgeries – especially to avoid likely bacterial attacks, a few antibiotics are used. These are labelled as prophylactic drugs. Your surgical team may prescribe such drugs before you undergo a knee or hip operation (i.e., orthopedic procedures) or bowel surgeries.

Chloramphenicol and its uses

In this milieu, chloramphenicol is mainly used for acute forms of infections caused by bacteria. It is often administered when other forms of drugs have limited effect on your clinical condition. Its active ingredients help stop the further growth of the microbe. The intravenous form of this drug is also administered for severe conditions such as anthrax, plague, etc. This drug is thus widely used to limit effects of biological attacks, related threats or warfare.

Chloramphenicol is also used for treating ocular conditions such as infections in the eye – chiefly, conjunctivitis and other similar eye problems. This is also commonly referred to as pinkeye. It is a condition in which your conjunctiva (a thin layer on the inside of your eyelid and the white area of your eye) is infected. As a result, you may notice an inflammation of this layer. Such bacterial infections of the eye may first affect one of the eyes; however, the discomforts may be visible in both the eyes. If left unattended, the condition may lead to formation of mucus or pus inside the eyes.

All the uses of this drug stem from its ability to destroy bacteria. In case of eye-drops, administer a droplet inside your lower eyelid. Such use is recommended twice or four times within a 24-hour timeline. In some remote cases of infections, the droplet is administered upto six times within a day. Soon after using this drug inside your eyes, never rub or blink your eyes. It is very uncommon that both your eyes to get infected at the same time; but, in very remote cases, such infections may occur. In such cases, the drops are used in both eyes.


The drug is likely to cause a few side effects. Most common among such adverse effects includes swelling of the intestinal tract (especially, the small intestine), migraines, weird dreams or thoughts, indigestion or discharge of loosened stools, suppression of the bone marrow (this is marked by a drop in the count of red blood cells), etc. In some uncommon instances, you may also observe rashes on skin, abdominal discomforts such as nausea, vomiting, etc. Upon noticing any of these side effects, it is a safe practice to consult with your treating doctor or pharmacist. As a safety precaution, you are advised to check blood count – especially, your white cells and red blood cells. If you have any prior blood disorders such as anemia or bone marrow related problems, never use this drug.

On women who are pregnant or breastfeeding

Women who are planning to get pregnant must talk to their physician prior to taking this drug. On the other hand, women who are already pregnant must try to stay away from this drug as evidences are limited on pregnant women. The active ingredients of this drug can get into mother’s milk; so, women who are nursing must stop taking this drug if it features in your treatment plan.

As mentioned, loosened stools or diarrhea is a commonly witnessed discomfort. But, in some one-off instances, loose stools may be triggered by the accumulation of a bacterial strand known as C diff; this may at times result in a near-fatal or a fatal bowel condition. Intake of anti-diarrhea drugs may only aggravate your abdominal condition. So, if you are witnessing conditions such as traces of blood in stools, persistent spells of watery stools, etc., you need to talk to your treating physician or a pharmacist as quickly as possible.

Other possible side effects may include mood shifts, being in a confused state of mind, throwing up blood, excessive discharge from vagina, extreme spells of drowsiness or dizziness, a numbing sensation, etc.

Possible interactions with other drugs

This drug may interact adversely with other medications. Hence, it is very important to talk to your treating doctor about current medication plans as well as treatments, if any. It is a good practice to compile a list of all the drugs you are presently taking; these include shots of vaccine (especially, shots taken for BCG, cholera, typhoid or other such clinical conditions), meds such as warfarin, cefoxitin, etc. You may also need to stay away from taking red yeast rice if you are consuming this med.

Always remember that the aforesaid precautions as well as side effects do not constitute a complete list of all possible discomforts. It is hence possible to notice a few side effects that are not listed in this article. Upon experiencing any unknown as well as unlisted discomforts, it is highly recommended to consult with your medical team as soon as you possibly can. Those who are residents of the US are recommended to call 911 or the helpline of the food and drug administration (FDA). As part of safety protocols, FDA watches over the likely side effects or other discomforts drugs cause on users. But, if you are living in any of the provinces of Canada, call a poison control center in the vicinity of your home or reach out to Health Canada.

In sum, the antibacterial drug chloramphenicol is chiefly administered to treat severe infections caused by a variety of bacterial strands. The ingredients of this drug stop further progression of bacteria. Chloramphenicol may also be administered for eye problems such as conjunctivitis. This drug may cause a few side effects like rashes, nausea, etc. Talk to your doctor upon experiencing any of these discomforts. Last but not least, check the count of red blood cells as well as white cells. If you have any prior blood conditions like a suppressed bone marrow, anemia or similar conditions, stay away from this antibacterial drug.

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