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What is Tobramycin?

By Debra Durkee
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

Tobramycin is a medication administered to individuals with a bacterial infection in areas such as the skin, lungs, stomach, or blood. Given via an intravenous drip, it is injected directly into one of the body's larger muscles. For those on a regular, long-term schedule, most healthcare professionals will teach an individual how to administer the drug at home.

Often effective in the treatment of urinary tract infections and other infections of the joints and bones, tobramycin in its raw form is a powder. This powder is combined with sterile water before given as an injection. As with other medications designed to combat bacterial infections, improper administration of the drug can result in the bacteria building up a resistance to it. Dosing instructions should always be followed, and stopping the drug early can result in a relapse of more resistant bacteria. Some strains of bacteria that cause infection are resistant to tobramycin, so some health professionals will take a culture before prescribing anything in order to determine whether or not the strain is one vulnerable to the drug.

There is also a version of tobramycin used to treat bacterial infections of the eye. Rather than an intramuscular injection, it is administered as an eyedrop solution or ointment. In some cases, both types may be prescribed, and may or may not be accompanied by another type of medication. The liquid is administered via a dropper into the eye, while the ointment is in a tube that squeezes a small amount directly into the eye. Use in children and adults has different outcomes, dosages, and side effects, and consultation with a medical professional is necessary.

As the drug is administered via an injection, it is possible that some individuals develop side effects relating to the injection. These usually include redness or bruising where the injection was given, and can also result in soreness in the muscle. Some patients may have an upset stomach or vomiting after their first few injections, or feel tired and weak. These side effects generally go away quickly, and should be reported to a medical professional if they do not.

Proper dosing depends on the condition it is being administered for as well as the weight and overall health of the patient. Pre-existing conditions like kidney disease and decreased levels of function in the urinary tract can impact the success and dosage amounts of tobramycin. As with other medications, medical professionals should be made aware of other health issues before administering.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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