Clindamycin is a type of medicine known as a lincomycin antibiotic. Antibiotics are used to treat all kinds of bacterial infections. Clindamycin treats a certain type of severe bacterial infection. It is limited to severe infections as it can have quite a harsh effect on the stomach and bowel and cause diarrhoea. An antibiotic is a drug that has the ability to either slow down the growth of a bacteria or to kill it off completely. Clindamycin does not work on colds and the flu as these are viral infections and not bacterial.
Bacterial infections are very common and caused by bacteria entering the body in different ways: from other people, the environment, or contaminated food or water for example. If your immune system isn’t strong then your chances of becoming ill when infected with bacteria are higher. Bacteria can affect any part of the body and the illnesses they cause can range from very mild to very severe – ear and throat infections can be caused by bacteria and so is meningitis. Swelling and pain are often associated with bacterial infections. Bacterial infections are usually treated with some kind of antibiotic to limit the spread of the bacteria and kill it off.
What is Clindamycin?
Clindamycin is a type of medicine known as a lincomycin antibiotic. Antibiotics are used to treat all kinds of bacterial infections. Clindamycin treats a certain type of severe bacterial infection. It is limited to severe infections as it can have quite a harsh effect on the stomach and bowel and cause diarrhoea.
An antibiotic is a drug that has the ability to either slow down the growth of a bacteria or to kill it off completely. Clindamycin does not work on colds and the flu as these are viral infections and not bacterial.
When is Clindamycin used?
Clindamycin is used to treat bacterial infections. It is usually only used for serious infections due to the risk of side effects. It is used for clindamycin sensitive infections when your doctor suggests it use, some examples are:
- Lung infections;
- Skin infections;
- Blood infections;
- Infections of the female reproductive organs and internal organs;
- Ear infections;
- Tonsilitis (in some cases);
- Bacterial vaginosis;
- Endocarditis (infection of the heart valves).
Clindamycin can be taken by both adults and children.
How do you use Clindamycin?
- Clindamycin comes as a capsule;
- It can also be administered by intravenous injection but this is only done in hospitals;
- For bacterial vaginosis a vaginal cream containing clindamycin is often used;
- You may also see Clindamycin solution which is a topical treatment for acne.
To take the capsules:
- Swallow the capsule whole;
- Wash down with a full glass of water to prevent stomach problems;
- You can take Clindamycin capsule either before or after a meal;
- Always take the full course of antibiotics you are prescribed by your doctor as while your symptoms may lessen quickly once you start taking your medication to prevent them from coming back you need to ensure you have completed the treatment and killed off the bacteria.
What dosages are there?
As with all medicines, when it comes to dosages and how to take your treatment you should follow the instructions given to you by your doctor. If you are unsure, check again with them or with a pharmacist.
Clindamycin capsules come in three different strengths:
The usual dose for adults is:
- 150 to 450mg, every six to eight hours depending on how severe the infection you have is;
- You may be prescribed the 600mg capsules, in this case, the usual dose is one capsule every eight hours;
- Try to take the tablets at around the same time every day;
- You should start to feel better after a few days but continue the treatment until you have finished the course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.
The usual dose for children is worked out by the weight of the child:
- 3 to 6mg per kilo, every six hours (4 times a day);
- Try to take the tablets at the same time every day;
- You should start to feel better after a few days but always finish the complete course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor to prevent the infection from coming back.
If you forget to take your capsule at the right time:
- If you only missed the dose by a few hours, take it as soon as you remember then carry on with your usual doses;
- If it is almost time for your next capsule then skip the missed dose and take the next one as normal;
- Never take a double dose to make up for a missed capsule;
- It can help to set an alarm (for example on your phone) to remind you to take your medicine, especially if you lead a busy life – this is a particularly useful tip towards the end of your treatment when you will probably feel fine and are more likely to forget, as it will help prevent the infection from returning.
- Taking your medication properly, at the right times, without skipping doses is the best way to ensure your body heals and does not get sick again.
If you take too much Clindamycin:
- Seek immediate medical assistance as this could have serious consequences, tell them what you have taken and if going to the hospital take the package leaflet with you for easy identification.
What are the side effects of Clindamycin?
As with all medication, Clindamycin comes with a warning of some side effects, although not everyone who takes Clindamycin will experience them.
The following side effects could be very serious, so you should contact your doctor immediately if you experience them:
- A severe allergic reaction. Signs of an allergic reaction include:
- Rashes, itching (especially if it covers a large area of the body);
- Swelling around the face, throat, eyes, lips and mouth;
- Shortness of breath, wheezing, difficulty breathing.
- Severe, continuous or bloody diarrhoea, with or without pain, stomach cramps and a fever – this could be a sign of serious bowel inflammation caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the large intestine– please note this can occur during your treatment and for up to several months after you finish taking Clindamycin.
- Yellow skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice);
- Blistering or peeling over large areas of the skin surface and generally feeling unwell, swelling of the gums, tongue or lips
Other less serious side effects:
- Changes in your sense of taste;
- Sore throat;
- Mouth ulcers;
- Being sick;
- Stomach pain;
- Poor liver function;
- Vaginal infection;
- Reduction in the number of blood cells causing bruising, bleeding or a weaker immune system;
- White patched in your mouth;
- Thick white vaginal discharge;
- Burning, itching or swelling around the vagina;
- Pain when swallowing;
- Metallic taste in the mouth;
- Joint pain.
If you are experiencing side effects and struggling to cope with them talk to the doctor who prescribed your medicine as you may be able to switch to something which reacts less with your body, everyone is different.
When shouldn’t you use Clindamycin?
While Clindamycin is an effective antibiotic it is not suitable for everyone. Do not use Clindamycin if:
- You are allergic to clindamycin, lincomycin and any of the other ingredients listed on the packet;
- You are allergic to aspirin or tartrazine (a yellow dye found in some medication)
- You have diarrhoea.
You should also take care with Clindamycin if any of the following apply:
- You usually have diarrhoea when taking antibiotics;
- You have ever had stomach or intestine problems;
- You have kidney problems (you may need to take a reduced dose);
- You have liver problems (you may need to take a reduced dose);
- You have asthma, hayfever or eczema;
- You are breastfeeding – the drug can pass into breast milk.
If you are prescribed Clindamycin on a long-term basis then you will need regular liver and kidney check-ups and blood tests. You may also find that you get other infections more frequently and these don’t respond to Clindamycin.
You should also take care when taking Clindamycin if:
- You are pregnant or plan to become pregnant;
- You have an intolerance to some kinds of sugar;
- You are having any kind of surgery (including dental surgery).
In these cases, you may find a different antibiotic more suitable depending on the type of infection you have and how serious it is. Your doctor will be able to advise you.
Does Clindamycin interact with other medications?
Always tell your doctor about any other medication you are taking, including vitamins and supplements as some medicines can affect the way Clindamycin works and can make it less effective at tackling your infection.
Take particular care with:
- Medicines to thin the blood and prevent clotting like Warfarin or similar;
- Medicines used to relax muscles for operations;
- Erythromycin, another type of antibiotic used to treat infections.
Where can you buy Clindamycin?
You can buy Clindamycin from any pharmacy, the choice is yours. You cannot buy Clindamycin in other types of shop as the sale will need to be approved by a pharmacist.
Can I get Clindamycin without a prescription?
No, you will need a prescription to buy Clindamycin. The use of antibiotics is strictly controlled as the symptoms of an infection are often similar to a viral illness so a doctor needs to confirm you are getting the appropriate treatment for you and the illness. There are also serious side effects to take into account along with your medical history to find the right antibiotic for you.
You can order the medication online once a doctor has examined you and advised you to take this medcication
American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, 2018. Clindamycin: MedlinePlus Drug Information. Medlineplus.gov. Retrieved 19 March 2020 from: <https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682399.html>
Duda, K., 2020. Bacterial Infections. Verywell Health. Retrieved 19 March 2020 from: <https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-is-a-bacterial-infection-770565>
NICE Excellence, 2020. CLINDAMYCIN | Drug | BNF Content Published By NICE. Bnf.nice.org.uk. Retrieved 19 March 2020 from: <https://bnf.nice.org.uk/drug/clindamycin.html>