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Chloramphenicol is used to treat severe life-threatening infections, particularly those caused by Haemophilus influenzae and typhoid fever. It is also used to treat certain eye infections. It is also used in the treatment of a wide range of bacterial infections of the outer ear.

How it works

Chloramphenicol is a potent broad spectrum antibiotic which has activity against many types of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. It works by killing or slowing the growth of sensitive bacteria. 

Common side effects

Nausea, Allergic reaction, Joint pain, Infection, Burning sensation, Diarrhoea, Fever, Hypersensitivity reaction, Grey baby syndrome, Irritation, Itching, Skin inflammation, Rash, Stinging sensation, Tongue inflammation, Vomiting, Skin swelling, Eye swelling


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Expert advice

Do tell your doctor if you have any medical conditions:
  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding.
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement.
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances.
  • if you have anemia, bone marrow problems, liver disease, or kidney problem.
Chloramphenicol tablet/capsule/oral suspension is best taken with a full glass (8 ounces) of water on an empty stomach (either 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals), unless otherwise directed by your doctor. Chloramphenicol may affect your blood sugar. Check blood sugar levels closely and ask your doctor before adjusting the dose of your diabetes medicine. Chloramphenicol may reduce the number of clot-forming cells (platelets) in your blood. Monitor blood counts and plasma concentration before and during treatment. To prevent bleeding, avoid situations in which bruising or injury may occur. Chloramphenicol may lower your body's ability to fight infection. Prevent infection by avoiding contact with people with colds or other infections. Notify your doctor of any signs of infection, including fever, sore throat, rash, or chills, If you are using the drug for eye infection, do not wear your contact lenses during the course of treatment.

Frequently asked questions


Q. Is chloramphenicol bacteriostatic or bactericidal/ an antibiotic/does it contains penicillin/ does it contain steroids/ treat styes?
Chloramphenicol is an antibiotic and exerts both bactericidal and bacteriostatic against wide variety of gram positive and gram negative bacteria including E.coli. No, it does not contain penicillin or steroids.
Q. Is chloramphenicol safe/ do chloramphenicol cause aplastic anemia/ safe for babies?
Chloramphenicol is safe at recommended dose and duration; however, in some cases it has led to rare side effects such as aplastic anemia. Chloramphenicol should not be used in children under 2 years of age and used be with extreme caution in children above 2 years of age especially who have diarrhea or a stomach or bowel infection.
Q. Does chloramphenicol sting/ does chloramphenicol cause dry eyes?
Chloramphenicol eye drops/ ointment may cause transient burning or stinging sensation. It does not cause but should be used with extreme precaution in patients with dry eye syndrome.
Q. Can i take paracetamol with chloramphenicol?
Chloramphenicol is not known to have any drug interactions with paracetamol, however, it should be taken together as per doctor’s advice.
Q. Is chloromycetin a penicillin/ an antibiotic/ with the formula/ chloromycetin is a drug for which disease?
Chloramphenicol is a brand name for chloramphenicol. It is not penicillin. It is an antibiotic with the formula C11H12Cl2N2O5. It used in the treatment of serious infections in different parts of the body caused by bacteria by killing or preventing their growth.
Q. Is chloromycetin over the counter/ is obtained from?
No, it is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Q. Is chloramphenicol and tetracycline similar?
Chloramphenicol and tetracycline belongs to same category of drugs with similar action, but their effect may vary upon individual response.
Q. Is Chloromycetin the same as chlorsig?
Both Chloromycetin and chlorsig contains chloramphenicol. Chlorsig is available as eye drop or ointment and Chloromycetin is an oral formulation.

Content on this page was last updated on 18 October, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)