What are the side effects of cefuroxime?

It is important to tell your health professional about any medicines you may be taking, or if you have any current illness, allergies or long-term health conditions. This will help them decide if cefuroxime is suitable for you.

If you have ever had an allergic reaction with symptoms such as hives, fever, breathing problems or anaphylactic shock when taking cefuroxime any other antibiotic in the past (e.g. amoxycillin), you must tell your doctor.

If you have severe kidney problems, you must tell your doctor. You may need a lower dose of cefuroxime.

Side effects of cefuroxime and related antibiotics (cephalosporins)

Common or uncommon
(1 to 10 in 100 people)
Rare
(fewer than 1 in 1000 people at high doses)
Diarrhoea
Nausea or vomiting
Stomach pain
Indigestion
Headache, dizziness
Allergic reactions
Thrush (candida infection)
Clostridium difficile infection
Problems with kidney function
Nerve problems (confusion, seizures)
Unusual bleeding
Low blood cell counts (neutropenia, thrombocytopenia)
Rash (see below)
Serum sickness-like syndrome (see below)
Note: this is not a complete list of all the possible side effects of cefuroxime.

Rash

Cefuroxime can cause two kinds of skin rashes:

  • Erythema multiforme: a rash that has spots with a dark centre, surrounded by a paler area and a dark ring around the edge (a bit like a target). The rash may blister.
  • Stevens–Johnson syndrome: a rash with blisters that covers most of the body surface. The rash causes the skin to peel (toxic epidermal necrolysis), especially around the mouth, nose, eyes and genitals.

Seek medical advice immediately if you experience either of these rashes.

Serum sickness-like syndrome

Serum sickness-like syndrome is a side effect that occurs more often in children than in adults, but it is uncommon. Symptoms include skin rashes, swollen glands (lymph nodes), and pain and swelling in the joints. The symptoms last for 6 to 12 days, and will clear up after stopping cefuroxime.

Read more about the common side effects of antibiotics.

Antibiotics and allergic reactions

Some people experience an allergic reaction to cefuroxime or any other antibiotic. This is due to an over-reaction of their immune system to the antibiotic.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include:

  • hives (large, red raised areas on the skin)
  • swollen lips, tongue or mouth
  • fever (a temperature of 38.5°C or higher)
  • breathing problems
  • fainting.

Seek medical advice if you experience any of these symptoms while you are taking an antibiotic.

It is not known why this happens to some people and not others, but it may mean that you will have to avoid taking the antibiotic in the future. There are other types of antibiotics which don’t cause this reaction that will be suitable for you.

Read more about the common side effects of antibiotics.

Who can I ask about side effects?

If you’re concerned that you or someone in your care may have had side effects related to a medicine, seek medical advice. People with questions about their medicines or seeking general information about side effects can also call the NPS Medicines Line on 1300 633 424 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm AEST). To report possible side effects call the Adverse Medicine Events (AME) line on 1300 134 237 from anywhere in Australia (Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm AEST).

References
  • Rossi S, ed. Australian Medicines Handbook [online]. Adelaide: AMH, July 2012.
  • Sweetman S, ed. Martindale: The complete drug reference [online]. London: Pharmaceutical Press (accessed 18 October 2011).
  • Antibiotic Expert Group. Therapeutic Guidelines: Antibiotic version 14; Cefuroxime. Melbourne: Therapeutic Guidelines Limited, 2012 (accessed 27 March 2012).