Colistin - Uses - Dosages - Side Effects - Precautions

Colistin: Frequently Asked Questions Answered

What is Colistin?

Colistin is an antibiotic belonging to the Polymyxin class of antibiotics and is used to treat various bacterial infections, especially those caused by Gram-negative bacteria. Colistin has bactericidal properties, i.e. it penetrates the cell membrane of the bacteria and kills it. Colistin is available as an oral suspension, inhalation, and injection formulation. Oral suspension is commonly used in children to treat stomach and intestinal infections. Also, the injection and inhalation formulations are used to treat severe bacterial infections, non-responsive to other antibiotics.

What are the uses of Colistin?

Colistin is a bactericidal antibiotic used to treat various infections, including severe infections. Colistin is indicated for treating acute and chronic bacterial infections that other antibiotics can’t treat, primarily Pseudomonas Aeruginosa. It is also indicated for other Gram-negative infections such as E. coli, Enterobacter aerogenes, Klebsiella, etc. In addition, colistin is also used for treating multi-drug resistant gram-negative bacterial infections. It is used for the treatment of gastrointestinal and ear infections.

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What are the side effects of Colistin?

The Majority of the side effects associated with Colistin are self-limiting and resolved independently without any medical intervention. However, if any symptoms start to bother you or get worse, you should immediately seek medical attention.

Common side effects

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  •  Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nephrotoxicity (kidney damage)
  • Paresthesia
  • Tingling sensation in tongue and extremities
  • Neurotoxicity         

Uncommon side effects

  • Vertigo
  • Seizure
  • Slurred speech
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Respiratory tract paralysis
  • Acute respiratory failure (associated with inhalation formulation)


Frequently Asked Questions about Colistin

1. How to give colistin nebulizer?

Colistin is given via nebuliser at the prescribed dose to treat severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia. The prescribed dose of Colistin has to be diluted in normal saline and inhaled using the nebulisation mask and machine. Consult our doctors for expert opinions on the use of colistin.

2. What is colistin used to treat?

Colistin is widely used to treat bacterial infections mainly caused by gram-negative bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Enterobacter aerogenes, Klebsiella, E.coli, etc. Colistin is indicated for the treatment of gastrointestinal, pneumonia, and ear infections. Consult our experts for the best medical advice on the use of colistin.

3. Can colistin be given alone?

Colistin can be given alone or in combination with other antibiotics as per your doctor’s discretion, depending upon the severity of the infection and your health parameters. Colistin has shown high efficacy against various bacterial infections, even when used alone. Consult our doctors for expert opinions on the use of colistin.

4. Can colistin cause drowsiness?

Colistin can cause drowsiness in some people due to its effect on the nervous system. Although it is not a severe side-effect; however, if you experience excessive drowsiness, you should inform your doctor. Consult our medical experts for advice on the use of colistin and the management of adverse reactions.

5. Can colistin increase platelet count?

Antibiotics, including colistin, have the potential to reduce the platelet count. There has been no established evidence that the use of colistin can lead to an increase in platelet count. However, if high platelet counts are reported post colistin use, we recommend consulting our doctors for expert opinions.

6. Does colistin cause thrombocytopenia?

Antimicrobial drugs, including colistin, have the potential to reduce platelet count (i.e. thrombocytopenia). They can act by various mechanisms to cause thrombocytopenia, and colistin has been reported to cause thrombocytopenia. Other co-administered drugs and multiple other factors can cause thrombocytopenia. Consult our experts for information on the adverse effects associated with colistin.

7. Why is colistin toxic to humans?

Colistin is an antibiotic that is eliminated from the human body by excretion from kidneys, primarily. It is known to cause nephrotoxicity (kidney damage) and neurotoxicity (nervous system-related disorders) in humans. You can reach our medical consultants for the best practices to safely use colistin in various infections.

8. How effective is colistin?

Colistin is effective in treating severe bacterial infections, and it has to be taken at the dose and frequency prescribed by your doctor. Colistin should not be discontinued without a doctor’s consultation, even if the improvement is visible. For expert opinions on the use of colistin, consult our team of medical specialists.

9. How long can you take colistin?

Colistin is a prescription medicine and should be taken as long as prescribed by your doctor. However, your doctor might discontinue it if the drug is ineffective or desired results have been achieved. You can consult our medical doctors for expert opinions on the use and frequency of colistin.

10. Is colistin safe for babies?

Colistin is generally safe in babies at the dose, frequency, and route prescribed by the doctor. In case any severe side effect is experienced by the baby, you should inform your doctor. We recommend you consult our team of medical experts to use colistin and other antibiotics in babies.

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Disclaimer: The information provided herein is accurate, updated and complete as per the best practices of the Company. Please note that this information should not be treated as a replacement for physical medical consultation or advice. We do not guarantee the accuracy and the completeness of the information so provided. The absence of any information and/or warning to any drug shall not be considered and assumed as an implied assurance of the Company. We do not take any responsibility for the consequences arising out of the aforementioned information and strongly recommend you for a physical consultation in case of any queries or doubts.