Top Videos and Slideshows

What is Cephalexin?

Cephalexin oral capsule is a prescription drug that’s available as the brand-name drug Keflexand as a generic drug. Generic drugs most commonly cost much less than the brand-name version. In some cases, they may not be available in all strengths or forms as the brand-name drug. Cephalexin also comes as an oral tablet and an oral suspension. Cephalexin and other cephalosporin antibiotics are broad-spectrum antibiotics. This means that they're used to treat a wide range of infections caused by many different bacteria. Cephalexin kills susceptible bacteria by interfering with the bacteria’s ability to make cell walls, which are necessary for the bacteria cells to survive. Cephalexin should only be used when there's strong evidence to support its use. Overusing broad-spectrum antibiotics can lead to serious infections from drug-resistant bacteria.

What are the uses for Cephalexin?

Cephalexin is used to treat infections caused by bacteria that are susceptible to the effects of cephalexin. Common infections that cephalexin treats include:

  • Middle ear infections
  • Tonsillitis
  • Throat infections
  • Laryngitis
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Urinary tract (UTIs)
  • Bone infections

Cephalexin Warnings

If you're allergic to penicillin, there's about a 10% chance that you will also be allergic to cephalexin. You could be at higher risk for side effects from cephalexin if you have a history of liver, kidney, or colon disease. So, make sure to tell your doctor about any of these conditions as well. Like other antibiotics, cephalexin may cause an overgrowth of bacteria called Clostridium difficile in your colon. Toxins produced by C. difficile can cause diarrhea and a condition called pseudomembranous colitis. Being on other antibiotics may also increase your risk for pseudomembranous colitis.

How should I take Cephalexin?

Take cephalexin exactly as it was prescribed for you. Make sure to follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Do not use cephalexin to treat any condition that has not been checked by your doctor. Shake the liquid well just before you measure a dose. Measure liquid medicine with the dosing syringe provided, or with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.

Use this medicine for the full prescribed length of time. Your symptoms may improve right before the infection is completely cleared. Skipping doses may also increase your risk of further infection that is resistant to antibiotics. Also, cephalexin will not treat a viral infection such as the flu or a common cold. Do not share cephalexin with others, even if they have the same symptoms you have. This medication can cause you to have unusual results with certain medical tests. Tell any doctor who treats you that you are using cephalexin.

How it works

Cephalexin belongs to a class of drugs called cephalosporins. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions. Cephalexin works by interfering with the formation of the bacteria’s cell walls. This ruptures the walls and kills the bacteria. This drug should only be used to treat bacterial infections. You shouldn’t use it to treat viruses, such as the common cold.

Cephalexin Side Effects

Symptoms of an allergic reaction to cephalexin may include:

  • Rash
  • Swelling under the skin
  • Itching
  • Throat swelling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting

Cephalexin is a prescription antibiotic used for treating middle ear infections, tonsillitis, laryngitis, pneumonia, urinary tract infections (UTIs), skin infections, bone infections, throat infections, bronchitis, and bone infections. Side effects, drug interactions, storage, dosage, and pregnancy safety information should be reviewed with your doctor prior to taking any medication.