One of the most effective drugs in the class known as cephalosporin antibiotics, cefotaxime has been used to fight infection in many different kinds of surgeries, and in the treatment of many different kinds of bacterial infection.


Cefotaxime is a cephalosporin antibiotic which is used either to prevent bacterial infection or to treat it once it has already occurred. It works by fighting bacteria in the body, and in some cases, it is even used in life-threatening situations, because it is very effective at combatting the negative effects of infectious bacteria.

Some of the infections which cefotaxime is commonly used to treat are gonorrhea, lower respiratory tract infections, pneumonia, meningitis, infections of the brain and spinal cord, urinary tract infections, female reproductive organ infections, abdominal infections, and disorders of the skin, joints, bones, and blood. It is frequently used to help female patients undergoing C-section surgery to prevent infection from occurring, both before and after surgery.

This medication does not work on viral infections such as colds and flu, and by using antibiotics for these conditions, you may be harming yourself in the long run, since your body will develop resistance to the antibiotics. That resistance would then limit their effectiveness or negate it altogether at some point later on when there might be a legitimate need for antibiotics.

Condition Treated

  • Prevention of bacterial infections, especially after surgery

Type of Medicine

  • Cephalosporin antibiotic

Side Effects

In addition to the intended effects of fighting infection, cefotaxime may have some unwanted side effects which are exhibited in some patients. The most serious of these would probably be an allergic reaction, and just like allergic reactions to pets or foods, a reaction to cefotaxime would be identifiable by immediate swelling of the facial area, the nose, tongue, throat, and lips. If you experience any reactions like this, you should seek emergency medical attention right away, because the conditions could become severe enough to be life-threatening.

Since cefotaxime is an injectable medication, there is a potential for redness, swelling, or pain to develop at the injection site. If any of these conditions do develop or worsen with usage, you should contact your doctor or pharmacist immediately, and describe whatever symptoms you are experiencing.

Your doctor will prescribe cefotaxime because it is judged to have more positive benefits than any negative reactions, so if you should experience serious side effects from using this medication, it may tend to negate the advantages derived from the medication. If side effects are severe enough, your doctor may either alter the dosage of cefotaxime or try another medication entirely.

Some of the more serious side effects which can develop during a program of treatment with second cefotaxime include the following:

  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising
  • excessive fatigue or weakness
  • persistent nausea or vomiting
  • loss of appetite
  • convulsions or seizures
  • uncontrollable movements
  • sudden changes in mood
  • confusion or disorientation
  • stomach or abdominal pain
  • changes in urination habits or dark urine
  • yellowish tinge to the skin, or around the eyes
  • irregular heartbeat.

You should not use anti-diarrhea products while you are taking cefotaxime, nor should you use narcotic pain medications, because any of these can worsen the side effects you are experiencing. It is possible for cefotaxime to produce a severe intestinal condition called clostridium difficile, and this can show up at almost any time during treatment, or even after treatment with cefotaxime has terminated. This condition will be characterized by nonstop diarrhea, powerful stomach cramping or pains, and either blood or mucus being present in your stool.

It's also possible for oral thrush or yeast infections to develop when cefotaxime is used over an extended period of time. Telltale signs of either of these developments would be white patches that appear in the mouth or a sudden change in vaginal discharge.


Cefotaxime is normally injected directly into a muscle or vein through an intravenous feed and is sometimes administered via a central IV line which is directed into one of the large veins of the chest area. Your doctor may demonstrate to you how to use an IV for self-administration at home. If there's anything you don’t understand about this process, or about how to use the tubes, needles, and other items necessary, be sure to ask questions or to have your doctor repeat the instructions several times.

Cefotaxime also has to be mixed with a fluid to dilute the medication itself, so if you are preparing your injections at home, it's very important that you understand completely how to prepare each dosage, and how the medication must be stored.

Disposable needles and syringes should be used only once and should be in accordance with all state and local laws regarding the disposal of needles and syringes. Sharps disposal containers should be used for this purpose because they are puncture-proof and therefore inaccessible to others. You can obtain these sharps containers from your pharmacist, who will instruct you about proper methods of disposal.

You should use your cefotaxime prescription for the entire duration of the prescribed period, even if your symptoms are much improved before the end of your prescription.

When you skip doses, that may increase your risk of infections which have the capability of developing resistance or immunity to antibiotics, which can be a long-term health problem.

Cefotaxime is not an antibiotic which will have any effect on helping to cure viral infections like common colds or the flu.

It is possible for cefotaxime to skew certain laboratories for glucose, so if you are undergoing laboratory testing, make sure to tell your doctor, or whoever treats you, that you are taking cefotaxime.

If you receive cefotaxime in a frozen state, it should be kept frozen until you're ready to mix it with a dilutant, and delivered as a regular dosage. Before using the medicine, it should be thawed out completely in a refrigerator or at room temperature, but never in a microwave oven or by boiling on a stovetop.

If you should miss a dosage of cefotaxime, take it as soon as you do remember, unless that time is very close to the next regularly scheduled dosage, and in that case, it should be skipped. Do not double up on doses to catch up.


It is possible that cefotaxime may interact with other medications you might be taking, so before you begin any program of treatment, you should prepare a comprehensive list of all other prescription medications you are using, as well as any over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, or herbal supplements. Your doctor will be able to review this list to make a determination on whether any drugs you are currently taking may need to have dosages altered, or should be discontinued while you are taking cefotaxime.

This list can also be used when you have a need to go to a healthcare clinic or emergency room where your primary care doctor is not present. Any physician at this facility will be able to review your medication list and will know which medications can safely be administered to you without triggering an interaction with another drug.

You should not use any medications which are considered anti-diarrhea treatments while you are using cefotaxime. There is a small possibility that cefotaxime can cause a certain amount of harm to your kidneys, and this effect can be significantly increased by the usage of other medications such as other injected antibiotics, bowel disorder medications, antivirals, chemotherapy treatments, medications which prevent organ transplant rejection, injectable osteoporosis medications, and some medications used to treat pain or arthritis, such as Tylenol, Aleve, Advil, or aspirin.

If you begin using any new medications or stop taking any current medications while you are being treated with cefotaxime, you should notify your doctor.


Prior to beginning any program of treatment with cefotaxime, make sure to tell your doctor if you know or suspect that you may be allergic to the drug, or any ingredients used in its manufacture. You should also let your doctor know if you are allergic to any other antibiotics, especially those in the class of cephalosporins, since they may contain inactive ingredients which can either cause allergic reactions or can interact with other drugs negatively.

You should discuss your medical history thoroughly with your doctor before being treated with cefotaxime, especially when there is any instance in your family history of kidney disease, stomach or intestinal disorders, or heart problems.

It is not advisable to receive any kind of immunizations or vaccinations while using cefotaxime because it can cause live bacterial vaccines like these to be less effective, or to be rendered altogether ineffective.

If you have any type of surgery, including oral surgery, planned for the near future when you will be taking cefotaxime, you should tell your doctor or dentist that you are being treated with cefotaxime, and you should review all medications with them which you’re currently taking.

There is no controlled research on human pregnancies to suggest a harmful interaction between cefotaxime and an unborn infant. Studies conducted on animal populations have shown a slight tendency toward lighter birth weights in offspring for the first three weeks after birth. However, no further negative results were observed on these animal populations, and since there is no definitive data available to suggest harm to human fetuses, it is likely that cefotaxime has very little effect on human infants.

Still, it is advisable for any woman who is pregnant currently or is planning to become pregnant, to discuss this with her doctor before being treated with cefotaxime. Regarding breastfeeding, only trace amounts of cefotaxime have been known to pass through in breast milk, and since these are minuscule amounts, it can safely be said that the benefits of cefotaxime to the mother outweigh the minimal risks to a breastfeeding infant.


Your physician or healthcare provider will give you clear instructions on how to store your cefotaxime medication, and these directions should be followed very closely so that the drug will retain its medical benefit when administered. If you have unused medication, do not flush it down the toilet or empty it into a sink – ask your doctor or pharmacist about proper disposal methods. You can also visit the website maintained by the FDA which contains all the appropriate information about Safe Disposal of Medicines, which you can follow safely.


Cefotaxime is an antibiotic which is used in the treatment of bacterial infections such as pneumonia, urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, and female reproductive organ infections. It is also extremely useful in preventing the onset of infection or treating it once it has started, in settings where surgery must be performed on a patient.

It is an injectable medication, which means a great deal of care must be taken in its administration because it must be injected into a muscle or a vein. If not done by a qualified medical person, a patient will need to have a thorough understanding of the self-injection process, and must also know how to use all the paraphernalia necessary for self-injection.

Injection at a patient’s home also requires that the patient be knowledgeable about how to safely store cefotaxime, including thawing it when it has been frozen and disposing of used needles and syringes.

Most patients being treated with cefotaxime show marked improvement within just a few days, and when this is not the case, the dosage may need to be altered, or the frequency of usage may have to be increased. The side effects from usage are generally not severe for most patients, although the injection site should always be carefully monitored for signs of irritation.

Last Reviewed:
December 23, 2017
Last Updated:
December 22, 2017