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What are the Most Common Uses for Ampicillin and Sulbactam?

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  • Written By: Janelle Martel
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2016
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Ampicillin is a penicillin-type antibiotic that is used to treat certain types of bacterial infections. Sulbactam is a medication that inhibits beta-lactamase, an enzyme released by bacteria to destroy the antibiotics. Ampicillin and sulbactam are often given as an antibiotic combination, working together to destroy the bacteria and rid the body of infection.

Ampicillin and sulbactam are either administered as a combined injection into a large muscle or given intravenously. There is an oral form of the antibiotic combination, and it goes by several brand names that vary depending on country. The combination is used to treat gynecological, skin, and stomach infections. More specifically, ampicillin and sulbactam are usually prescribed to treat urinary tract infections, ear infections, pneumonia, salmonellosis, streptococcal infection, meningitis, and listeriosis.

Ampicillin and sulbactam are used to treat infections caused by bacteria that are resistant to beta-lactum antibiotics. The combination is frequently prescribed as a broad-spectrum antibiotic. That means it is used when the cause of infection is not known and doctors are trying a range of antibiotics in hopes one of them works.

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In more depth, ampicillin and sulbactam together are effective in treating infections caused by staphylococcus aureus, enterobacteriaceae, and anaerobic bacteria. Staphylococcus aureus leads to a wide variety of infections, from skin infections to pneumonia, meningitis, toxic shock syndrome and sepsis, among others. Enterobacteriaceae, on the other hand, is most commonly known to cause salmonella poisoning and E. coli. Anaerobic bacteria cause a wide range of infections as well, but are generally associated with skin, stomach, and vaginal infections.

As with other medications and antibiotics, a number of interactions and possible side effects are associated with ampicillin and sulbactam. They should not be used if the patient is allergic to ingredients in the medication, or to other penicillin antibiotics. They are also not compatible with tetracycline antibiotics or the live oral typhoid vaccine. Ampicillin and sulbactam should also not be taken if the patient has mononucleosis, because this can make the infection worse.

Severe allergic reaction is possible with ampicillin and sulbactam. Serious side effects include severe allergic reaction, severe diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting, stomach cramps and pain, unusual bleeding or bruising, vaginal irritation and discharge, vein inflammation or tenderness, and white patches in the mouth. Common and less serious side effects of ampicillin and sulbactam include mild diarrhea, and pain, swelling, or tenderness at the injection site.

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