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Gentamicin is an antibiotic used in the treatment of severebacterial infections, especially the ones caused by Gram-negative bacteria. Itcan be taken orally, topically, intravenously, and intramuscularly.

Side Effects

The medicine has numerous side effects. Ototoxicity (thedamage of the ear) and nephrotoxicity (thedamage to the kidney) are the two most commonly reported side effects of gentamicin.They occur when the patients are administered gentamicin serum over a long period of time. Nephrotoxicity is more common in peoplesuffering from renal insufficiency and can take the form of acute renal failureor azotemia. Dehydration, simultaneous use of other nephrotoxic medication, andadvancing age are other risk factors for nephrotoxicity.

Ototoxicity can display no to moderate symptoms at first. Anearly symptom of ear toxicity is the loss of high tone hearing. Other nervous system side effects include depression,lethargy, headache, confusion, tingling skin, seizures, muscle twitching,numbness, myasthenia gravis-like syndrome, and acute organic brain syndrome. Visual acuity loss after high doses of gentamicin has alsobeen reported. Musculoskeletal side effects have manifested asneuromuscular blockage in patients with hypocalcaemia and myasthenia gravis, as well as in cases of simultaneous use of other neuromuscular blocking substances. Joint paints,muscle weakness and tetany have also been reported.

Respiratory depression and respiratory arrest are mostcommonly reported respiratory side effects. Pulmonary fibrosis may also beconnected to the use of gentamicin. People can also experience local reaction at the injectionsite, such as pain and burning. Gentamicin can also cause hypersensitivity reactions likeswelling of the throat and anaphylaxis like reactions.

Gentamicin containingmetabisulfite preservative has also caused allergic reactions Individuals treated with gentamicin can also havedermatologic side effects such as hives, rash, itches, alopecia and burning. Anemia, purpura, temporary agranulocytosis, leukopenia,eosinophilia, thrombocytopenia, granulocytopenia and changes in reticulocytecount are possible hematologic side effects. Hepatic side effects included the increase of LDH,transaminase serum, billirubin, and temporary hepatomegaly.

Gentamicin can also cause the blood pressure to drop orrise. Gastrointestinal tract can be adversely affected bygentamicin so that the person experiences poor appetite, nausea, vomiting,stomatitis, increased production of saliva and weight loss. Fever, temporary splenomegaly, shaking, tachycardia andrigors are other possible side effects.


As gentamicin may damage kidneys and/or nerves, thefunctioning of kidneys and the concentration of the drug in the blood must be underdoctor’s supervision. The doctor should be contacted in cases of dizziness,tingling skin, twitching muscles, hearing loss or seizures, as they mightindicate nerve damage.

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