What Type of Antibiotic Is Kanamycin?

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Key Takeaways

  • Kanamycin is an aminoglycoside antibiotic.
  • It works by binding to bacteria and stopping them from making proteins.
  • Kanamycin treats infections caused by E. coli, Proteus, Enterobacter, Klebsiella, and Acinetobacter.
  • It can be given as an injection or applied as ear drops.
  • Kanamycin has some side effects like kidney problems and hearing loss.


Have you ever had to take an antibiotic prescribed by your doctor? Antibiotics are special medicines that fight bacterial infections. There are many different types of antibiotics that work in various ways. One kind of antibiotic is called kanamycin.

This article will explain what type of antibiotic kanamycin is. You will learn how it works to kill bacteria and treat infections. We will cover what bacteria it targets, how it can be given, and possible side effects. Understanding antibiotics like kanamycin can help you use them safely and effectively.

What is kanamycin and how does it work?

Kanamycin is part of a group of antibiotics called aminoglycosides. Aminoglycosides work by entering bacterial cells and attaching to structures inside called ribosomes. Ribosomes are the parts of cells that make proteins. When kanamycin attaches to ribosomes, it stops bacteria from being able to make proteins correctly. This prevents the bacteria from growing and multiplying.

Kanamycin is effective at killing a broad range of gram-negative bacteria. Gram-negative bacteria have a double cell membrane that aminoglycosides like kanamycin can pass through. Some examples of gram-negative bacteria that kanamycin works against include Escherichia coli, Proteus species, Enterobacter aerogenes, and Klebsiella.

How is kanamycin used to treat infections?

Kanamycin can be used to treat serious bacterial infections in many parts of the body. Doctors often prescribe it when other antibiotics have not worked. Kanamycin may be used to treat infections in the abdomen, urinary tract, respiratory system, skin, and bloodstream.

Kanamycin is available in two main forms – injections and ear drops. The injection form is given by a shot directly into a vein or muscle. Ear drops containing kanamycin can be used to treat outer ear infections caused by bacteria.

According to research, short-term use of kanamycin injections successfully cured bacterial infections in over 80% of patients. The injections were effective against pathogens including E. coli, Proteus, Enterobacter, Klebsiella, and Acinetobacter.

What are the potential side effects of kanamycin?

While often effective, kanamycin does come with some risks of side effects. Two of the most serious potential side effects are kidney toxicity and hearing loss.

Studies show kanamycin injections may cause kidney damage in 10-20% of patients. The kidneys filter out kanamycin but prolonged high doses can be toxic. Monitoring of kidney function is recommended when on kanamycin.

Kanamycin ear drops can impact hearing by harming structures in the inner ear. One study found over 6% of patients had partial hearing loss after long-term use. Hearing should be tested after kanamycin treatment.

Other common side effects of kanamycin include rashes, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Only take kanamycin as prescribed by your doctor and alert them to any side effects.


Kanamycin is an important antibiotic of the aminoglycoside class. It stops bacterial growth by binding to ribosomes and preventing protein production. The injection form effectively treats major infections caused by E. coli, Proteus, Enterobacter, Klebsiella, and Acinetobacter species. However, kanamycin can also damage the kidneys and hearing with long-term use. Knowing the proper uses and side effect risks of kanamycin allows you to use it safely as prescribed by your doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

What bacteria does kanamycin work against?

Kanamycin is effective against various gram-negative bacteria including E. coli, Proteus species, Enterobacter aerogenes, Klebsiella, and Acinetobacter. It stops these bacteria from making proteins, preventing growth.

How is kanamycin administered?

Kanamycin is available as injections given into a vein or muscle. It also comes as ear drops to treat outer ear infections caused by bacteria. The injections work systemically while the ear drops act locally.

How long is kanamycin treatment?

Kanamycin is only used for short-term treatment, usually 7-10 days. Prolonged, high-dose usage can increase the risk of toxicity and side effects like kidney damage.

What are the side effects of kanamycin?

Common side effects of kanamycin include kidney toxicity, hearing loss, rashes, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Kidney function and hearing should be monitored while on kanamycin.

When is kanamycin used?

Doctors often prescribe kanamycin when other antibiotics have failed to cure an infection. It treats serious systemic infections and outer ear infections unresponsive to other antibiotics.

Can kanamycin be given to children?

Yes, kanamycin can be used in children but dosage must be lowered to prevent toxicity. Close monitoring of kidney function is very important when giving kanamycin injections to pediatric patients.

Are there other similar antibiotics?

Other antibiotics in the aminoglycoside family that work similarly to kanamycin include gentamicin, amikacin, neomycin, and tobramycin. They bind to bacterial ribosomes but can also damage kidneys and hearing.

What should you tell your doctor before starting kanamycin?

Alert your doctor if you have kidney disease, hearing loss, myasthenia gravis, or paralytic ileus before starting kanamycin. Also report any allergies, pregnancy, or medications you are taking to prevent interactions.

Why monitor kidney function with kanamycin use?

Since the kidneys filter out kanamycin, prolonged high doses can lead to toxicity and kidney damage. Monitoring kidney function helps adjust dosage and treatment duration to avoid this side effect

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