Cephalosporins for pneumonia


Generic Name Brand Name
cefadroxil Duricef
cefprozil Cefzil
cefuroxime Ceftin
cephalexin Keflex

How It Works

Cephalosporins kill bacteria.

Why It Is Used

Doctors use cephalosporins to treat pneumonia, especially in people who are severely ill and in the hospital, are older than 65, and who have other long-lasting (chronic) illnesses (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD]). These antibiotics are effective against the bacteria most likely to cause pneumonia in people in these categories.

How Well It Works

In general, all antibiotics used have a high cure rate for pneumonia caused by bacteria. Cure rates are greater than 80%, meaning at least 80 people out of 100 are cured.1

Cephalosporins are effective against many types of bacteria that cause lower respiratory tract infections. But some bacteria may be resistant to them.

You most likely will see some improvement in symptoms 2 to 3 days after treatment starts with cephalosporins. In most cases, unless you get worse during that time, treatment is not changed for at least 3 days. The number of days you continue to take antibiotics depends on your illness and the type of antibiotic.

Side Effects

The most common side effects of cephalosporins are:

  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Sore mouth or tongue.
  • Skin rash.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Cephalosporins and amoxicillin combined with clavulanate (Augmentin) often are good choices for treating older people, especially those with long-lasting (chronic) lung diseases, such as COPD.

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  1. Loeb M (2008). Community-acquired pneumonia, search date June 2007. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.

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