Many antibiotics, including clindamycin, may cause overgrowth of dangerous bacteria in the large intestine. This may cause mild diarrhea or may cause a life-threatening condition called colitis (inflammation of the large intestine). Clindamycin is more likely to cause this type of infection than many other antibiotics, so it should only be used to treat serious infections that cannot be treated by other antibiotics. Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had colitis or other conditions that affect your stomach or intestines.
You may develop these problems during your treatment or up to several months after your treatment has ended. Call your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms during your treatment with clindamycin or during the first several months after your treatment has finished: watery or bloody stools, diarrhea, stomach cramps, or fever.
Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking clindamycin.
Why is this medication prescribed?
Clindamycin is used to treat certain types of bacterial infections, including infections of the lungs, skin, blood, female reproductive organs, and internal organs. Clindamycin is in a class of medications called lincomycin antibiotics. It works by slowing or stopping the growth of bacteria.
Antibiotics such as clindamycin will not work for colds, flu, or other viral infections. Using antibiotics when they are not needed increases your risk of getting an infection later that resists antibiotic treatment.
How should this medicine be used?
Clindamycin comes as a capsule and a solution (liquid) to take by mouth. It is usually taken three to four times a day. The length of your treatment depends on the type of infection you have and how well you respond to the medication. Take clindamycin at around the same times every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take clindamycin exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Shake the liquid well before each use to mix the medication evenly.
Take the capsules with a full glass of water so that the medication will not irritate your throat.
You should begin to feel better during the first few days of treatment with clindamycin. If your symptoms do not improve or if they get worse, call your doctor.
Take clindamycin until you finish the prescription, even if you feel better. If you stop taking clindamycin too soon or skip doses, your infection may not be completely treated and the bacteria may become resistant to antibiotics.
Other uses for this medicine
Clindamycin is also sometimes used to treat acne and is used along with other medications to treat anthrax (a serious infection that may be deliberately spread as part of a terror attack) and malaria (a serious infection that is spread by mosquitoes in certain parts of the world). Clindamycin is also sometimes used to treat ear infections, tonsillitis (infection that causes swelling of the tonsils), pharyngitis (infection that causes swelling in the back of the throat), and toxoplasmosis (an infection that may cause serious problems in people who do not have healthy immune systems or in unborn babies whose mothers are infected) when these conditions cannot be treated with other medications. Clindamycin is also sometimes used to treat bacterial vaginosis (an infection caused from too much of certain bacteria in the vagina). Clindamycin is also sometimes used to prevent endocarditis (infection of the heart valves) in certain people who are at risk of developing this infection as a result of a dental procedure. Talk to your doctor about the risks of using this medication for your condition.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking clindamycin,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to clindamycin, lincomycin (Lincocin), any other medications, or any of the ingredients in clindamycin capsules or solution. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients. If you will be taking clindamycin capsules, tell your doctor if you are allergic to aspirin or tartrazine (a yellow dye found in some medications).
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention clarithromycin (Biaxin, in PrevPac), erythromycin (E.E.S, E-Mycin, Erythrocin, others), indinavir (Crixivan), itraconazole (Sporanox), ketoconazole (Nizoral), nefazodone, nelfinavir (Viracept), rifampin (Rifadin, in Rifamate, in Rifater, Rimactane), and ritonavir (Norvir, in Kaletra). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects. Many other medications may also interact with clindamycin, so be sure to tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking, even those that do not appear on this list.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had asthma, allergies, eczema (sensitive skin that often becomes itchy or irritated) or kidney or liver disease.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while taking clindamycin, call your doctor.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking clindamycin.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Clindamycin may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- unpleasant or metallic taste in the mouth
- joint pain
- pain when swallowing
- white patches in the mouth
- thick, white vaginal discharge
- burning, itching, and swelling of the vagina
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:
- peeling or blistering skin
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
- decreased urination
Clindamycin may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Do not refrigerate clindamycin liquid because it may thicken and become hard to pour. Dispose of any unused clindamycin liquid after 2 weeks.
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor may order certain lab tests to check your body's response to clindamycin.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Your prescription is probably not refillable. If you still have symptoms of infection after you finish the clindamycin, call your doctor.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.