Colistin is a drug that belongs to a class of medicines known as antibiotics. It acts by damaging the cell membrane of bacteria, leading to the latter’s death. It is especially active against gram negative and aerobic bacteria such as P. aeruginosa, Legionella spp, H. influenzae, Acinetobacter, V. cholera, Salmonella, Shigella and Pasteurella.

Colistin is used in the treatment of gram negative bacterial infections such as those affecting the gastrointestinal tract.

This drug should not be used by people who are allergic to colistin and those who have myasthenia gravis.

Colistin can give rise to the following side effects:

  • Superinfection
  • Kidney damage
  • Vision problems
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Severe colitis


Take extra precautions in patients with the following conditions:

  • Kidney problems
  • Porphyria
  • Pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding



Colistin can interact with the following medicines:

  • Curariform muscle relaxants
  • Aminoglycosides
  • Amphotericin B
  • Capreomycin
  • Vancomycin

Symptoms of overdose include the following:

  • Numbness
  • Lethargy
  • Confusion
  • Ataxia
  • Dizziness
  • Apnoea
  • Possible respiratory arrest
  • Acute renal failure

If you think you may have used colistin more than the recommended dose, seek medical help immediately.


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