How Do Extended-Spectrum Penicillins Work?

Reviewed on 10/22/2021

How Do Extended-Spectrum Penicillins Work?

Extended-spectrum penicillins are a group of semi-synthetic penicillin antibiotics that, because of their chemical structure, have a wider spectrum of activity than natural penicillins, penicillinase-resistant penicillins, and aminopenicillins. They are strongly effective against gram-negative bacterial infections.

Extended-spectrum penicillins work by inhibiting bacterial cell wall synthesis (cell walls are necessary to protect the bacteria from their environment and keep the contents of the cell together) by attacking the peptidoglycans (a mesh-like structure that increases the strength of the cell wall) leading to the bursting of the bacteria and eventually its death.

How Are Extended-spectrum Penicillins Used?

Extended-spectrum penicillins are used to treat:

  • Sepsis (life-threatening illness caused by your body’s response to an infection)
  • Skin infections
  • Lower respiratory infection
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Intra-abdominal infections
  • Secondary peritonitis (inflammation of the abdominal wall)
  • Infection caused by burns

What Are Side Effects of Extended-spectrum Penicillins?

Common side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness (feeling weak/unsteady)
  • Skin rash
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Flatulence
  • Hypersensitivity reaction (rash, fever, and eosinophilia—increased number of eosinophils in the blood)
  • Pain and redness at the site of injection
  • Heartburn

Other rare side effects include:

The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.

What Are Drug Names of Extended-spectrum Penicillins?

Drug names include:


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