Xifaxan (Rifaximin) is an antibiotic used to treat traveler’s diarrhea caused by the bacteria called E. coli in those who are at least 12 years of age. It is also used to treat irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea. Xifaxan works by stopping the growth of bacteria. This medication can only be used for bacterial infections and not viral infections. Rifaximin should not be used to treat a fever or bloody diarrhea. Xifaxan can be used to prevent a brain disorder, hepatic encephalopathy, that can be caused by severe liver disease. This medication may help you think more clearly. There is no generic alternative to Xifaxan currently available.
Always use Xifaxan as directed by one’s physician. If using to treat traveler’s diarrhea, Xifaxan is usually taken orally, with or without food, 3 times a day (every 8 hours) for 3 days. Continue to take this drug for the fully prescribed amount even if you feel better after a couple of days. Stopping early risks the return of the infection. If using to treat irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea, Xifaxan is usually taken orally, with or without food, 3 times a day for 14 days. If using to prevent hepatic encephalopathy, Xifaxan is usually taken orally, with or without food, 2 times a day. In any case, take this antibiotic regularly to see the best results of the treatment. Inform your doctor right away if you still have diarrhea after 1 to 2 days, bloody diarrhea, or if you develop a fever alongside the diarrhea. Tell your doctor if your condition does not change or if it becomes worse.
Prior to using Rifaximin, tell your doctor:
- If you are allergic to it or any other allergies you do have
- Your medical history
- If you need to have any immunizations/vaccinations as this medication can cause live bacterial vaccines to not work as effectively.
- If you are or plan to become pregnant
- If you are or plan to breast-feed
If your condition doesn’t improve or worsens, let your physician know immediately.
Common side effects include but are not limited to:
- Swelling in the hands and/or feet
- Nausea, dizziness, headache
- Abnormal liver function tests
Get immediate medical help if you experience any of these rarer symptoms:
- Signs of a severe allergic reaction such as hives; swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat; difficulty breathing
- Signs of a severe intestinal condition, clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea, such as persistent diarrhea, abdominal or stomach pain/cramps, blood or mucus in stool.
- Watery or bloody diarrhea, even if it happens months after your last dose
- Fluid build-up around the stomach, rapid weight gain, trouble breathing while lying down, stomach pain and bloating
If any of these effects persist or worsen immediately tell your doctor or pharmacist.
Q: What other drugs interact with Xifaxan?
A: Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking in order to learn of all possible interacting drugs. Some known interactions are cyclosporine, warfarin, any antibiotic, any antiviral medication, heart or blood pressure medicine, etc.
Q: Will Xifaxan work if the cause of diarrhea is one other than E coli?
A: No, Xifaxan should not be used in patients with diarrhea caused by a different pathogen than E coli or diarrhea complicated by fever and/or blood in the stool.
Q: What if I miss a dose of Xifaxan?
A: If you miss a dose of Xifaxan, take it as soon as you remember. If it is closer to the time of your next dose, then skip the missed dose and just take that one. Do not take more than one dose at a time.