What is vancomycin?

Vancomycin is an antibiotic. It fights bacteria in the body.

Vancomycin is used to treat infections of the intestines that cause colitis (inflammation of the large intestine).

Vancomycin may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.


Do not use this medication if you are allergic to vancomycin.

Before taking vancomycin, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have:

  • kidney disease,
  • hearing problems; or
  • a chronic intestinal condition such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis.

If you have any of these conditions, you may not be able to use vancomycin, or you may need a dosage adjustment or special tests during treatment.

FDA pregnancy category B. This medication is not expected to be harmful to an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.

Vancomycin can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

There are no restrictions on food, beverages, or activity while taking vancomycin unless otherwise directed by your doctor.

If you have diarrhea that is watery or has blood in it, call your doctor.

Do not use any medicine to stop the diarrhea unless your doctor has told you to.

Back to top


Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine.

Symptoms of a vancomycin overdose are not known.

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the medicine at your next regularly scheduled time. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

Back to top

Side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using vancomycin and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • hearing loss, ringing in your ears;
  • urinating less than usual or not at all;
  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms;
  • feeling light-headed, fainting;
  • skin rash, redness, bruising, severe tingling, numbness, pain, muscle weakness; or
  • severe stomach pain, diarrhea that is watery or bloody.

Keep taking vancomycin and talk to your doctor if you have any of these less serious side effects:

  • dizziness;
  • nausea;
  • back pain; or
  • muscle pain or tightness.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Back to top


Before taking vancomycin, tell your doctor if you are using any of these other antibiotic medications:

  • amikacin (Amikin);
  • gentamicin (Garamycin);
  • kanamycin (Kantrex);
  • neomycin (Mycifradin, Neo-Fradin, Neo-Tab);
  • netilmicin (Netromycin);
  • streptomycin; or
  • tobramycin (Nebcin, Tobi).

If you are using any of these drugs, you may not be able to use vancomycin, or you may need dosage adjustments or special tests during treatment.

There may be other drugs not listed that can affect vancomycin. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.

Other Names

Vancocin, Vancocin HCl, Vancocin HCl Pulvules, vancomycin, and Lyphocin

Back to top


Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2004 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version 2.05. Revision date 8/23/04

Last updated: