Gentamicin (Systemic): Indications, Side Effects, Warnings - (2024)

Generic name: Gentamicin (systemic) [jen-ta-MYE-sin]
Drug class: Aminoglycosides

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 18, 2024.


  • This medicine may cause kidney, nerve, and hearing problems (like long-lasting hearing loss), even at normal doses. The risk may be higher if you already have kidney or hearing problems, you take higher doses, or you use gentamicin (systemic) for a long time. The risk may be higher in older people, infants, or with dehydration. Hearing loss can happen even after gentamicin (systemic) is stopped. If you already have kidney problems or hearing problems, tell your doctor. You may need to have hearing and kidney tests.
  • Do not use gentamicin (systemic) if you are taking or have recently taken any drugs that can cause nerve, kidney, or hearing problems. This may be drugs like amphotericin B, bacitracin, cephaloridine, cisplatin, colistin, cyclosporine, ethacrynic acid, furosemide, paromomycin, polymyxin B, vancomycin, viomycin, or other drugs like this one. There are many other drugs that can do this. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure.
  • This medicine may cause harm to the unborn baby if you take it while you are pregnant.

Uses of Gentamicin:

  • It is used to treat bacterial infections.

What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take Gentamicin?

  • If you have an allergy to gentamicin or any other part of gentamicin (systemic).
  • If you are allergic to gentamicin (systemic); any part of gentamicin (systemic); or any other drugs, foods, or substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had.

This medicine may interact with other drugs or health problems.

Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take gentamicin (systemic) with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while I take Gentamicin?

  • Tell all of your health care providers that you take gentamicin (systemic). This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
  • If you are allergic to sulfites, talk with your doctor. Some products have sulfites.
  • Have blood work checked as you have been told by the doctor. Talk with the doctor.
  • Do not use longer than you have been told. A second infection may happen.
  • Severe muscle problems and severe breathing problems have happened. The risk is higher if you are getting certain drugs used to put you to sleep or to relax your muscles. The risk is also higher if you are getting a certain type of blood transfusion. If you have questions, talk with your doctor.
  • If you are 65 or older, use gentamicin (systemic) with care. You could have more side effects.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant. You will need to talk about the benefits and risks of using gentamicin (systemic) while you are pregnant.
  • Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding. You will need to talk about any risks to your baby.

Related/similar drugs

amoxicillin, doxycycline, cephalexin, ciprofloxacin, azithromycin, metronidazole, triamcinolone

How is this medicine (Gentamicin) best taken?

Use gentamicin (systemic) as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.

  • It is given as a shot into a muscle or as an infusion into a vein over a period of time.
  • Drink lots of noncaffeine liquids unless told to drink less liquid by your doctor.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • Call your doctor to find out what to do.

Detailed Gentamicin dosage information

What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Signs of kidney problems like unable to pass urine, change in how much urine is passed, blood in the urine, or a big weight gain.
  • Signs of high or low blood pressure like very bad headache or dizziness, passing out, or change in eyesight.
  • Change in balance.
  • Hearing loss.
  • Ringing or roaring in the ears.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • A burning, numbness, or tingling feeling that is not normal.
  • Twitching.
  • Seizures.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Feeling confused.
  • Feeling very tired or weak.
  • Low mood (depression).
  • Change in eyesight.
  • Fever.

Gentamicin side effects (more detail)

What are some other side effects of Gentamicin?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

  • Not hungry.
  • Weight loss.
  • Headache.
  • Upset stomach or throwing up.
  • More saliva.
  • Mouth irritation or mouth sores.
  • Hair loss.
  • Joint pain.

These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-332-1088. You may also report side effects at

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

How do I store and/or throw out Gentamicin?

  • If you need to store gentamicin (systemic) at home, talk with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about how to store it.

Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer

  • If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
  • Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else's drugs.
  • Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.
  • Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. Check with your pharmacist. If you have any questions about gentamicin (systemic), please talk with your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

More about gentamicin

  • Check interactions
  • Compare alternatives
  • Reviews (3)
  • Side effects
  • Dosage information
  • During pregnancy
  • Drug class: aminoglycosides
  • Breastfeeding
  • En español

Patient resources

  • Gentamicin drug information
  • Gentamicin (Injection) (Advanced Reading)

Other brands


Professional resources

  • Gentamicin monograph
  • Gentamicin Sodium Chloride (FDA)
  • Gentamicin Sulfate (FDA)
  • Gentamicin Sulfate Injection Concentrate (FDA)

Related treatment guides

  • Bacteremia
  • Bacterial Endocarditis Prevention
  • Bacterial Infection
  • Bone infection

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circ*mstances.

Medical Disclaimer

Gentamicin (Systemic): Indications, Side Effects, Warnings - (2024)
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