Cephalexin for Urinary Tract Infection

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A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is an infection of the urinary system, which consists of the kidneys, bladder, urethra and ureters. UTIs are the second most common infection in humans, according to the National Institutes of Health, and are responsible for about 8.3 million doctor visits each year. Common symptoms of a urinary tract infection include pain or burning during urination, blood in the urine, the frequent urge to urinate and frequently urinating small amounts. Antibiotics, including cephalexin, are commonly used to treat UTIs and typically clear up the infection within a few days.

How It Works

Cephalexin is classified as a cephalosporin antibiotic. It works by interfering with bacteria, which are the cause of a urinary tract infection. When a person takes cephalexin, the bacteria's cell wall formation is altered, which causes it to rupture. When this happens, the bacteria is killed.

How To Take It

Cephalexin is typically taken orally in pill or tablet form. It can be taken with or without food. As with all antibiotics, it's important to take all the prescribed medication, even if you begin to feel better before it is gone.

Non-Serious Side Effects

People taking cephalexin may experience the following side effects: dizziness, headaches, joint pain, stomach pain, tiredness, indigestion and diarrhea. None of these is cause for concern. However, because some people taking the medication may experience dizziness, it's important to avoid driving or other tasks requiring concentration until you know how it will affect you.

Serious Side Effects

In rare cases, people taking cephalexin may develop side effects that indicate a potential complication requiring medical treatment. Notify your doctor if you experience any of the following: jaundice; dark urine; decreased urination; unusual bleeding or bruising; unusual vaginal pain, discharge or odor; agitation; confusion; severe stomach pain or cramps; severe or bloody diarrhea; seizures; red, swollen or blistered skin; severe fatigue; and fever.

Drug Interactions

As with many other medications, cephalexin is known to interact with other drugs, possibly causing dangerous reactions and increasing the likelihood of experiencing side effects. Taking cephalexin with metformin or probenecid increases the risk of experiencing side effects. Taking cephalexin and anticoagulants together increases the odds of experiencing serious effects such as severe bleeding. Be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about any other drugs you are taking before taking cephalexin.

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