Can Antibiotics Cause Kidney Failure?


Yes, certain antibiotics can potentially cause kidney damage or acute kidney injury (AKI) in some individuals, although it is relatively rare.

Some antibiotics are known to be associated with nephrotoxicity, meaning they have the potential to harm the kidneys. Examples of antibiotics that can cause kidney damage include:

  1. Aminoglycosides: Drugs like gentamicin, amikacin, and tobramycin are known to be nephrotoxic and can cause damage to the kidneys, especially when used at high doses or for prolonged periods.
  2. Vancomycin: While vancomycin is an effective antibiotic for treating serious infections, it can cause kidney damage, particularly when given intravenously at high doses or in combination with other nephrotoxic medications.
  3. Cephalosporins: Certain cephalosporin antibiotics, such as cefepime and ceftriaxone, can rarely cause kidney injury, particularly in patients with preexisting kidney disease or other risk factors.
  4. Fluoroquinolones: Although less common, fluoroquinolone antibiotics like ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin have been associated with acute kidney injury and other renal complications in some cases.

The risk of antibiotic-induced kidney damage varies depending on factors such as the specific antibiotic, dosage, duration of treatment, individual kidney function, and presence of other risk factors such as dehydration or preexisting kidney disease. In most cases, kidney function returns to normal once the antibiotic is discontinued, but in severe cases, permanent kidney damage or kidney failure can occur.

It’s important for healthcare providers to carefully consider the risk-benefit ratio when prescribing antibiotics, especially in patients with underlying kidney disease or other risk factors for nephrotoxicity. Patients should also be monitored closely for signs of kidney injury during antibiotic therapy, including changes in urine output, blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine levels, and other indicators of kidney function.

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