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What is Cefixime?

By D. Jeffress
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Cefixime is a prescription oral antibiotic that is widely used to combat a number of different types of bacterial infections. Among other bacteria, the drug is effective against Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Escherichia coli (E. coli), and Salmonella. Most patients see complete symptom improvement in about two weeks with one to two daily doses of cefixime. There are risks of side effects, including stomach upset and headaches, when taking the medication, but most adverse effects are temporary and mild.

Several decades of clinical research show that cefixime and other antibiotics of the class cephalosporin work by breaking down bacterial cell walls. When protective cell walls are compromised, bacteria cannot defend against natural antibodies produced by the immune system. The drug also stops replication of new bacteria by inhibiting the production of new cell membranes. Cefixime is a fast-acting agent against most bacterial ear, tonsil, throat, and lung infections. It is also used to treat urinary tract infections and certain bacterial sexually transmitted diseases, including gonorrhea.

The usual daily dose of cefixime is 400 milligrams to be taken in a single tablet or liquid solution with food. Some patients are instructed to take two smaller doses every twelve hours. A doctor may adjust dosage amounts and times based on a patient's specific condition, overall health, age, and other factors. Most prescriptions instruct patients to take the drug until all of the medicine is gone, usually 14 days. It is important to finish a prescription even if symptoms resolve before the two-week mark to make sure that bacteria are completely eradicated from the body.

The risk of major side effects when taking cefixime is low, though many patients do experience minor problems. The most common side effects include digestive issues such as stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Some people develop mild headaches, dizziness, or bouts of lightheadedness after taking the drug. An allergic reaction may occur as well that causes fever, a spreading skin rash, and throat and tongue swelling. Most side effects go away on their own within a few minutes or hours, though lasting problems or allergic responses generally require medical attention.

Most people who follow their doctors' instructions and attend scheduled checkups experience quick, full recoveries. Additional medications and patient advice may be provided after finishing a course of treatment to reduce the chances of recurring infections. Patients who fail to get better despite taking cefixime and those who experience major adverse reactions may need to try different types of antibiotics.

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Discussion Comments
By discographer — On Mar 28, 2014

I'm on cefixime for strep throat. It seems to be working but it is giving me diarrhea and stomach upset. I experience this with all antibiotics however.

My sister can't use cefixime at all because she's allergic to penicillin and since cefixime is similar to penicillin, she may react to it as well. The doctor wouldn't prescribe cefixime to her.

By fify — On Mar 28, 2014

@SteamLouis-- I'm not sure but I think that the dose depends on the type of antibiotic, the type of infection, the severity of the infection as well as the age and weight of the patient. So only a doctor can decide the appropriate dose for an individual. Antibiotics should never be used differently than what the doctor described or there will be a risk of the infection coming back. Unnecessary use of antibiotics can also lead to antibiotic resistance in bacteria.

Cefixime is a third generation cephalosporin. So it is a very effective antibiotic and is effective against more bacteria strains than its predecessors. Cefixime is particularly effective against gram negative bacteria. So it is usually prescribed for these types of bacterial infections.

By SteamLouis — On Mar 27, 2014

400mg/day sounds like a low dose in comparison to the recommended doses of other antibiotics. For example, I used a penicillin group antibiotic for an infection last month. I was directed to use 500mg twice a day. Does this mean that cefixime is a strong drug and thus smaller doses are required?

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