Hopkins ABX Guide

Cephalexin Antibiotic

What is Cephalexin and When It is Used?

Cephalexin is an antibiotic from the group of cephalosporin antibiotics which is effective against Gram-positive and some species of Gram-negative bacteria. It is used for treatment of a wide range of bacterial infections affecting different parts of the body including infections of the skin, urinary tract, lungs (bacterial pneumonia), joints, respiratory tract and bones. The antibiotic can also be prescribed as an alternative to penicillin to patients with mild to moderate penicillin allergy and to prevent endocarditis (bacterial infection of the heart’s inner lining) in some individuals undergoing dental procedures.

How is Cephalexin Taken/Administered?

The medication is available in the form of tables, capsules, and tablet and powder for suspension. It is taken by mouth with or without food at the prescribed intervals - usually every 6 to 12 hours. Dosage and duration of Cephaloxin therapy depend on several factors, in the first place on the severity of the infection and overall health of the patient.

In order for the infection to clear up, it is of utmost importance to finish the entire course of antibiotics even if the symptoms have resolved. It is possible that there are still a few disease causing bacteria but too few to cause symptoms. But they may quickly multiply and the infection can recur if not completing the entire course of treatment. Also, this gives the bacteria an opportunity to develop antibiotic resistance which threatens to become a very serious public health concern.

Side Effects of Cephalexin

Cephalexin may cause a long list of side effects. The most common unwanted effects are related to the gastrointestinal tract such as stomach upset and diarrhoea. Severe side effects are very rare but if experiencing any disturbing symptoms, it is crucial to seek medical advice or help right away. It is especially important to watch for symptoms of allergy such as swelling in the mouth or face, difficulties breathing or/and rash/hives. Severe allergic reactions are very uncommon - they are developed by fewer than 0.1% of people - but they can be very dangerous and even deadly. For that reason it is crucial to seek medical help immediately if having any signs of allergy to the medication.

The antibiotic can interact with other medications which is why it is necessary to notify the doctor if taking any medications no matter if they are prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Cephalexin is generally safe for pregnant and breast-feeding women but it is advisable to consult a doctor or pharmacist about potential adverse affects for the foetus/baby.