Aztreonam (Injection, Intravenous)

Aztreonam is an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections. It is often prescribed to combat pneumonia and pulmonary and mycobacterial diseases.

Overview

Aztreonam is a monobactam antibiotic medication used to treat many kinds of bacterial infections. It is commonly prescribed for the treatment of respiratory tract infections (including bronchitis and pneumonia), urinary tract infections, blood infections, skin infections, gynecological infections, and abdominal infections. Aztreonam has also been administered before, during, and occasionally after surgery, in an effort to prevent a post-surgical infection from setting in, if the patient is particularly susceptible to them. Likewise, aztreonam is often used following colorectal surgery, where it acts to prevent future infection. The drug works by killing the bacteria, or by sharply inhibiting their growth.

Aztreonam is included in the List of Essential Medicines compiled by the World Health Organization, where it is described as among the safest and most effective medicines required in any health system.

Aztreonam has shown strong activity in response to certain bacteria, including the species of pseudomonas aeruginosa, E. coli, citrobacter, klebsiella, enterobacter, haemophilus, serratia, and proteus.

Aztreonam is often specifically prescribed for certain conditions where it has proven especially effective for treatment. These include certain types of bronchiectasis, pneumonia, pulmonary disease and mycobacterial disease.

Aztreonam is often used to treat patients who are allergic to penicillin or who are unable to tolerate aminoglycosides.

As an antibiotic medication, aztreonam will not be useful in the treatment of flu, colds, or other types of viral infection.

Aztreonam is only available under a prescription from your health care professional.

Oral administration of aztreonam does not allow the medicine to absorb well into the bloodstream, so it is usually administered as an injection directly into the vein or muscle. Aztreonam is available as a product in the following forms:

  • powder (to be mixed into a solution)
  • solution (ready mixed)

Conditions Treated

  • bacterial infection
  • respiratory tract infection
  • bronchitis
  • pneumonia
  • urinary tract infection
  • blood infection
  • skin infection
  • gynecological infection
  • abdominal infection
  • post-surgical infection - prevention
  • pulmonary disease
  • mycobacterial disease

Type of Medicine

  • antibiotic

Side Effects

Along with their anticipated and desired effects, certain medications may be responsible for some unwanted side effects. Although not all the side effects you will find listed here might actually occur during your course of treatment, if any of them should, they might require the attention of a medical professional.

You should always speak with your prescribing doctor should any of these events occur:

  • black or tarry stools
  • blood in your urine or stools
  • itching or burning of the vagina
  • chest pain
  • chills
  • convulsions
  • confusion
  • dark urine
  • cough
  • diarrhea
  • problems with breathing
  • inflammation, swelling, or discomfort at the site of injection
  • discharge from the vagina
  • dizziness
  • eye pain
  • flu-like symptoms
  • fever
  • general feeling of illness
  • hives
  • headache
  • gray-colored stools
  • a loss of appetite
  • numbness in the tongue
  • skin presenting with pinpoint red spots
  • double vision
  • redness, itching, or rash on the skin
  • sore throat
  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • unusual weakness or tiredness
  • yellow eyes or skin

As well as the above-named side effects which may require medical attention, patients may exhibit some other effects which are not so serious. These side effects might go away during your course of treatment while your body begins to adjust itself to the medication. Your prescribing doctor might be able to recommend ways to reduce or prevent some of the side effects. Should any of the following effects continue beyond a day or two, or should any of them start to bother you, be sure to check with your doctor as soon as possible.

  • Stomach or abdominal cramps
  • altered sense of taste
  • halitosis (bad breath)
  • tenderness of breasts
  • prickling or burning sensation on skin
  • flushing
  • excessive or increased sweating
  • ulcers in the mouth
  • aches in the muscles
  • nasal congestion
  • vomiting or nausea
  • buzzing, ringing, or other noise in the ear
  • small, round, flat spots on the skin, usually purple or red
  • trouble with sleeping
  • sneezing

There may be other side effects that will present themselves in certain patients, which have not appeared on any of these lists. Should you develop any unexpected effects during your course of treatment, be sure to check in with your healthcare professional.

Dosage

In order for your infection to clear up entirely, aztreonam must be taken for the full course of treatment prescribed by your doctor, even if you start feeling better after a couple of days or so. Also, aztreonam is most effective when it maintains a constant level in your urine or bloodstream. Aztreonam should be taken on the regular schedule advised by your doctor in order to keep these levels constant.

The dosage required for treatment through aztreonam will be different from one patient to another. You should always follow your doctor's instructions when taking any prescription drug or, at least, follow the directions given on the label. The dosage details given below refer only to the average dosage reported for aztreonam. Should your dosage be different to that listed below, you should not amend it to suit, unless advised to do so by your prescribing doctor.

The dosage of medicine that you are prescribed will depend upon the strength of your medication. Likewise, the length of your course of treatment, the time you should let elapse between each dose, and the number of doses you are expected to take each day, will largely depend upon the medical condition for which you are using the drug.

For injection dosage:

Adults and children aged 16 years and over, should take 1 gram (g) to 2 g of aztreonam, injected slowly into their a vein over a 20-60 minute period. This process should be repeated every six to 12 hours.

In children aged under 16 years old, the dosage is based on their body weight, and must, therefore, be assessed and determined by the prescribing doctor.

Major Drug Interactions

Using aztreonam alongside the following medication is not normally recommended but is something that might be required under certain circumstances. If both medicines need to be prescribed together, then your health care professional might choose to alter the dosage of either medicine or how often you should take them.

Warnings

When deciding to take any form of medication, you must always weigh the positive effects it will have against any possible risks. This is a decision that should be reached by you and your prescribing doctor following a consultation.

Be sure to tell your doctor whether you have had any kind of allergic or unusual reaction to aztreonam before, or to any other kind of prescription or over-the-counter medication. Also inform them whether you suffer from other kinds of allergies, such as to animals, foods, preservatives or dyes.

Studies in children have indicated that aztreonam proves effective in the treatment of certain bacterial infections, further indicating that the side effects experienced in children are similar to the ones experienced by adults. When aztreonam was administered to children in high doses, a reduction in white blood cell counts and an elevation of liver enzymes were reported among some of the subjects.

Tests of aztreonam among patients over 65 years have not been shown to produce different side effects in geriatric patients than the drug does in younger adult patients.

Animal studies have not shown any evidence of aztreonam being harmful to the fetus during pregnancy; however, there have been no adequate studies among pregnant women to determine the same result.

Studies in women indicate that aztreonam poses a minimal risk to nursing infants when administered during breastfeeding.

The existence of other medical conditions might impact upon your use of aztreonam. Be sure to inform your prescribing doctor if you suffer from any other medical problems, especially the following:

  • liver disease - may cause an increased risk of the patient developing side effects.
  • kidney disease - may cause an increased risk of the patient developing side effects.

Storage

Aztreonam will either be administered by your prescribing doctor or otherwise will be something you administer yourself at home.

If your doctor or other healthcare professional administers the injection, there is no need to be concerned about storage.

If you are administering aztreonam yourself, you must be sure to keep it in a sealed container, away from bright light, heat, and moisture.

Be sure to always keep aztreonam beyond the reach of children.

Summary

Aztreonam is a useful antibiotic for the treatment of many bacterial infections. It can be used on patients who are allergic to penicillin and boasts relatively few negative interactions with other drugs. Included on the List of Essential Medicines, curated by the World Health Organization, aztreonam is a vital inclusion in any health system. Though its injection-only administration system makes it less popular among patients than oral antibiotics, it remains a commonplace method of treating numerous infections.

Resources
Last Reviewed:
December 22, 2017
Last Updated:
April 04, 2018