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Antibiotics for Lung Infections

By Catherine Schaffer ; Updated August 14, 2017

Lung infections are one of the most common infections that patients acquire, according to the Washington Manual of Surgery. Lung infections often start with viral disease such as influenza or the common cold. Respiratory tract viruses are common causes of pneumonia especially in the elderly, immunocompromised or in patients with other lung diseases such as COPD. Treatment of lung infections requires special antibiotics.

Levofloxacin

Levofloxacin or Levaquin is a fluoroquinolone antibiotic. A fluoroquinolone is the name of the chemical structure that makes up this drug. Fluoroquinolones are a class of antibiotics which work well against infections. This drug kills most bacteria that cause bronchial infections including Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae and Moraxella catarrhalis. This medication is particularly helpful in community-acquired pneumonia. Levaquin is typically prescribed at 750mg daily for five days. This medication can be given orally or intravenously and the dose should be decreased in patients with impaired renal function.

Clindamycin

Clindamycin or Cleocin is a drug used to treat serious infections in the body and particularly the respiratory tract. Clindamycin kills anaerobes which can cause lung abscesses, empyema or pneumonitis. This drug is available for oral or intravenous use. Clindamyacin carries a black box warning in that it is associated with Clostridium difficile colitis. This is a reaction of the colon to the antibiotic that causes severe inflammation, swelling of the colon and diarrhea which can be potentially fatal. This drug should not be taken with erythromycin as there are drug interactions noted. The typical dose is 600mg every six hours.

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Piperacillin-Tazobactam

Piperacillin-tazobactam or Zosyn is another broad-spectrum antibiotic used in respiratory infections. Community-acquired pneumonia and hospital-acquired pneumonia can both be treated with Zosyn. This medication can be administered only intravenously and must be given every six hours. Patients with renal insufficiency should have their dosing reduced. The length of treatment depends on the severity of the disease but usually seven to 10 days is adequate. Side effects include diarrhea, nausea and headaches.

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