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How to use Cephalexin

Brand Name(s): Biocef, Keflex, Keftab

Generic Name Cephalexin

What are cephalexin tablets or capsules?

CEPHALEXIN (Keflex®, Keftab®) is a cephalosporin antibiotic. It treats many kinds of infections including those of the skin, respiratory tract, bone, sinuses, ears, and urinary tract. Generic cephalexin tablets and capsules are available.

What should my health care professional know before I take cephalexin?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:

  • bleeding problems
  • diarrhea
  • kidney disease
  • stomach or intestinal problems (especially colitis)
  • other chronic illness
  • an unusual or allergic reaction to cephalexin, other cephalosporin antibiotics, penicillin, penicillamine, other foods, dyes or preservatives
  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • breast-feeding

How should I take this medicine?

Take cephalexin tablets or capsules by mouth. Follow the directions on the prescription label. Swallow the tablets or capsules with a drink of water. You can take cephalexin with or without food. If cephalexin upsets your stomach it may help to take it with food. Take your doses at regular intervals. Do not take your medicine more often than directed. Finish the full course prescribed by your prescriber or health care professional even if you think your condition is better. Do not stop taking except on your prescriber's advice.

Contact your pediatrician or health care professional regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses. There should be an interval of at least 4 to 6 hours between doses.

What drug(s) may interact with cephalexin?

  • other antibiotics
  • diuretics ("water pills")
  • probenecid

Tell your prescriber or health care professional about all other medicines you are taking, including non-prescription medicines, nutritional supplements, or herbal products. Also tell your prescriber or health care professional if you are a frequent user of drinks with caffeine or alcohol, if you smoke, or if you use illegal drugs. These may affect the way your medicine works. Check with your health care professional before stopping or starting any of your medicines.

What side effects may I notice from taking cephalexin?

Side effects that you should report to your prescriber or health care professional as soon as possible:

  • difficulty breathing, wheezing
  • fever or chills, sore throat
  • pain or difficulty passing urine
  • redness, blistering, peeling or loosening of the skin, including inside the mouth
  • seizures (convulsions)
  • severe or watery diarrhea
  • skin rash, itching
  • stomach pain or cramps
  • swollen or tender joints
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual weakness or tiredness

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your prescriber or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):

  • diarrhea
  • gas or heartburn
  • genital or anal irritation
  • nausea, vomiting

What should I watch for while taking cephalexin?

Tell your prescriber or health care professional if your symptoms do not begin to improve in a few days.

If you are diabetic you may get a false-positive result for sugar in your urine. Check with your prescriber or health care professional before you change your diet or the dose of your diabetic medicine.

If you get severe or watery diarrhea, do not treat yourself. Call your prescriber or health care professional for advice.

Where can I keep my medicine?

Keep out of the reach of children in a container that small children cannot open.

Store at room temperature between 15 and 30 °C (59 and 86 °F). Throw away any unused medicine after the expiration date.


(Note: The above information is not intended to replace the advice of your physician, pharmacist, or other healthcare professional. It is not meant to indicate that the use of the product is safe, appropriate, or effective for you.)

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