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Vancomycin is used to treat various severe infections of the lining or valves of the heart (endocarditis), lungs (pneumonia), bone (osteomyelitis), or soft tissue when other antibiotics are not useful. It can also be given before surgical procedures to prevent infections. Oral form of vancomycin may be used for the treatment of inflammation of the digestive tract (enterocolitis) caused by staphylococci and severe diarrhea (pseudomembranous colitis).

How it works

Vancomycin belongs to group of medicines called glycopeptide antibiotics. It works 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

Decreased white blood cell count (neutrophils), Dizziness, Hearing disorder, Injection site pain, Decreased white blood cell count, Reduced blood platelets, Renal injury, Ringing in ear


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Expert advice

  • It is given as an oral form or as a drip (intravenous infusion) into a vein or into a muscle.
  • Do not drive because you may feel sleepy or dizzy while being treated with vancomycin.
  • During treatment patient may undergo blood, urine, or hearing tests to look for signs of side effects.
  • Do not start or continue the vancomycin if you have a kidney problem or hearing difficulties.
  • Avoid using vancomycin if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.

Frequently asked questions


Q. Is vancomycin a form of beta lactam, penicillin, cephalosporin, macrolide, or sulfa drug?
Vancomycin does not contain sulfa and is not a beta lactam, penicillin, cephalosporin, or macrolide drug.

Q. Is it bactericidal or bacteristatic?
 It is a broad spectrum bactericidal glycopeptide antibiotic.
Q. Does vancomycin come in pill form?
Yes, vancomycin comes in pill form and used for the treatment of inflammation of the digestive tract (enterocolitis) caused by staphylococci and severe diarrhea (pseudomembranous colitis).
Q. Does vancomycin cause diarrhea?
No, vancomycin is not known to cause diarrhea. Please consult your doctor before taking the drug.
Q. Can I take vancomycin with probiotics, ibuprofen, heparin, Zosyn, Tylenol, Tums, or Aleve?
Vancomycin is not reported to interact with ibuprofen, heparin, Zosyn (piperacillin and tazobactam), Tylenol (acetaminophen), Tums (sucrose and calcium carbonate), or Aleve (naproxen). It may reduce efficacy of probiotics. Please follow the advice of the doctor regarding their simultaneous use.
Q. Can I take vancomycin with penicillin allergy?
Yes, vancomycin may be given to the patients who are allergic to penicillin.
Q. What organisms does vancomycin cover?
Vancomycin is mainly effective against gram-negative bacteria such as pseudomonas as well as some gram-positive bacteria such as streptococcus. It is a drug of choice for infections due to Clostridium difficile and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (mrsa).

Content on this page was last updated on 15 October, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)