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Cefotaxime is used to treat bacterial infection of the bone blood, heart, brain and spinal cord, (meningitis), abdomen and abdominal wall and other serious bacterial infections acquired in hospitals. It is also used before operation to prevent infections due to surgery.

How it works

Cefotaxime belongs to group of medicines called third-generation cephalosporin antibiotics. It kills the bacteria by interrupting the bacterial cell wall (outer coating of bacteria) formation. As a result, the bacterial cell wall is weakened and ruptured, thereby killing the bacteria.

Common side effects

Vomiting, Nausea, Infection, Acne, Acne-like rash, Facial swelling, Allergic reaction, Blisters on skin, Chills, Difficulty in swalloing, Shortness of breath, Skin rash, Fever, Hoarseness of voice, Injection site bleeding, Black and bloody stools, Skin swelling, Skin redness, Sore throat, Stomach pain, Stomach cramp, Tongue swelling, Throat swelling, Itching, Urticaria


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Expert advice

  • Cefotaxime is usually given by a doctor or a nurse as an injection directly into the vein or muscle.
  • Do not drive or operate machinery as you may feel sleepy or dizzy while being treated with cefotaxime.
  • Tell your doctor if you are taking cefotaxime and undergoing urine glucose test or Coombs test, as it may affect the result.
  • Do not start or continue cefotaxime if you have a kidney problem or diabetes.
  • Avoid taking cefotaximeI if you are on a controlled sodium diet because drug contain sodium.
  • Do not start or continue cefotaxime if you experience a widespread rash with blisters and peeling skin (these may be signs of Stevens-Johnson syndrome) or severe skin reaction to drugs (toxic epidermal necrolysis) or severe diarrhea (pseudomembranous colitis).
  • Do not take cefotaxime if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding.

Frequently asked questions


Q. Is cefotaxime a sulfa, penicillin or broad spectrum antibiotic?
Cefotaxime does not contain sulfa and is not a penicillin drug. It is a third generation, broad spectrum cephalosporin antibiotic.
Q. Is cefotaxime compatible with potassium and TPN?
Yes, cefotaxime can be given with potassium and TPN (total parenteral nutrition).
Q. Is cefotaxime ototoxic (toxic to the ear)?
No, cefotaxime is not an ototoxic drug when given alone, but when given along with aminoglycoside antibiotics (gentamicin, tobramycin), it may increase ototoxicity.
Q. Is cefotaxime bacteriostatic or bactericidal?
Cefotaxime is a bactericidal agent.
Q. What organisms does cefotaxime cover?
Cefotaxime is active against Escherichia coli, group A and B streptococci, pseudomonas and staphylococcus bacteria. In some cases, Streptococcus pneumonia may show resistance to the drug. It may not be effective against methicillin- resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Content on this page was last updated on 30 September, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)