How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Ceftriaxone belongs to the family of antibiotics known as cephalosporins. It is used to prevent or treat certain infections caused by bacteria. It is given by injection only into a muscle or vein.

Ceftriaxone is often used to treat infections of the lung, urinary tract, skin, abdomen, bone, joint, and lining of the brain (meningitis), depending on the bacteria causing them. It can also be used to treat gonorrhea (a sexually transmitted infection).

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

Rocephin is no longer being manufactured for sale in Canada. For brands that may still be available, search under ceftriaxone. This article is being kept available for reference purposes only. If you are using this medication, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for information about your treatment options.

How should I use this medication?

To treat bacterial infections, the recommended dose and dosing schedule of ceftriaxone varies according to the specific infection being treated, the response to therapy, and other medications or treatments being used. The dose administered is also based on age, body size, and kidney and liver function. For moderate to severe infections in adults, the dose ranges from 1 g to 2 g daily given once every 24 hours or divided into 2 equal doses and given every 12 hours.

For uncomplicated gonorrhea in adults, one dose of 250 mg is injected into a muscle.

For children 12 years of age and under, the dose is based on body weight and is given every 12 hours. The maximum daily dose for adults and children is 4 g. The duration of treatment depends on the type of infection and usually ranges from 4 to 14 days. Some infections require only one dose while others require treatment for several weeks.

Ceftriaxone is injected into a vein or into a muscle by a health care professional under the supervision of your doctor.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor.

Store this medication (as unmixed vials) at room temperature, protect it from light, and keep it out of the reach of children.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not use this medication if you:

  • are allergic to ceftriaxone or any ingredients of this medication
  • are allergic to other cephalosporins (e.g., cephalexin) or penicillins (e.g., penicillin, amoxicillin)
    • the risk of developing a reaction to ceftriaxone given a history of cephalosporin or penicillin allergy is relatively low, but check with your health care provider before starting treatment

Do not give this medication to a newborn or premature infant who has high amounts of bilirubin in their blood.

Do not give this medication to a newborn who is receiving (or expected to receive) calcium-containing intravenous solutions (calcium-containing solutions should not be given within 5 days of ceftriaxone in infants up to 10 weeks of age).

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • dizziness
  • headache
  • mild diarrhea

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • chills
  • fever
  • pain, redness, and swelling at site of injection
  • rash

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • severe, persistent diarrhea
  • symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, e.g.:
    • difficulty breathing
    • hives
    • swelling of the mouth, throat, or tongue

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Allergic reactions: Ceftriaxone can cause severe allergic reactions. If you develop symptoms of a severe allergic reaction (hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of the mouth, tongue, or throat), get immediate medical attention.

Anemia: Although rare, certain drugs can cause a blood condition called hemolytic anemia, where people have low red blood cells due to premature destruction of this type of blood cell. If you have a history of cephalosporin-related hemolytic anemia, you should talk to your doctor before starting treatment.

Blood tests: Depending on various factors, including how long you will be receiving treatment, your doctor may order blood tests while you are taking ceftriaxone.

Calcium-containing solutions: The interaction with calcium-containing solutions has only been reported for newborns. For all other people, ceftriaxone can be administered before or after calcium-containing solutions provided that the infusion lines are flushed well in between the solutions. In newborns, calcium-containing solutions should not be given within 5 days for infants up to 10 weeks of age.

Gallbladder disease: If you have gallbladder disease, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Kidney problems: Ceftriaxone may cause kidney stones. If you have high calcium levels in your urine or a history of kidney stones, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Low vitamin K: People with impaired vitamin K synthesis or low vitamin K stores (e.g., chronic liver disease and malnutrition) may require monitoring of blood clotting during treatment, as ceftriaxone may decrease clotting ability.

Overgrowth of organisms: Treatment with this antibiotic may allow normal fungus or types of bacteria not killed by the antibiotic to overgrow, causing unwanted infections.

Stomach and bowel disorders: If you have stomach and bowel problems (especially colitis), discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: Ceftriaxone passes into breast milk in small amounts. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking ceftriaxone, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: Newborn and premature infants (up to the age of 10 weeks) should not receive calcium-containing solutions within 5 days of receiving ceftriaxone.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between ceftriaxone and any of the following:

  • anticoagulant medications (e.g., warfarin)
  • solutions injected into a vein that contain calcium
  • typhoid vaccine

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.

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