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Kanamycin is an antibiotic (medicine which treats infection caused by bacteria) used to treat various serious infections caused by bacteria like resistant TB (tuberculosis not cured with primary treatment medications), penicillin resistant gonorrhea (a type of sexually transmitted infection) and chronic bacterial infections.

How it works

Kanamycin belongs to a group of medicines called aminoglycosides. It kills sensitive bacteria by stopping the production of essential proteins needed by the bacteria to survive.

Common side effects

Pain, Diarrhoea, Headache, Hearing loss, Injection site swelling, Nausea, Renal injury, Vomiting


Expert advice

  • Before taking kanamycin, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs or if you have kidney disease, asthma or sulfite allergy, or a muscle disorder such as myasthenia gravis or are an elderly with neuromuscular disorder.
  • Continue using kanamycin for the full course of treatment even if you feel better in a few days. This will help clear your infection completely.
  • Kanamycin may cause dizziness which can aggravate with alcohol use. Do not drive, operate machinery, or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how you react to kanamycin. 
  • Stop using this medicine if you have a serious side effect such as hearing loss, ringing in your ears, spinning sensation, problems with balance, numbness or tingling, muscle twitching, seizure (convulsions), or urinating less than usual or not at all.
  • Before you have any medical or dental treatments, emergency care, or surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are using kanamycin.
  • Lab tests, including kidney function, will be required to monitor your therapy. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Tell your doctor if you are or planning to become pregnant or are breastfeeding.

Frequently asked questions


 Q. Is kanamycin bacteriostatic or bactericidal?
Kanamycin is a bactericidal (that kills the bacteria) drug.
Q. Is kanamycin heat stable or heat sensitive, light sensitive or does it degrade?
Kanamycin is heat stable, sensitive to light and it can degrade.
Q. Does kanamycin kill yeast/e-coli/bacteria/cells/plants?
Kanamycin is mainly used against gram negative bacteria.
Q. Is kanamycin a tetracycline?
No. Kanamycin is not a tetracycline. It belongs to a group of medicines called aminoglycosides.
Q. Is kanamycin injurious to ears (ototoxic)?
Yes. Kanamycin is injurious to ears. Tell your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms related to your ears.
Q. How does kanamycin resistance gene work?
The kanamycin resistance gene has natural origins and is found in Streptomyces Kanamyceticus, a bacteria that is able to produce an enzyme that breaks down the kanamycin antibiotic before the antibiotic can destroy the bacteria.

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