The good news is that many of these infections can be treated. To keep them in check, antibiotics are taken by people with cystic fibrosis as part of regular daily treatment. For lung exacerbations, people with CF may receive intravenous (IV) antibiotics -- that is, directly into the veins -- in addition to the inhaled or oral antibiotics.
See how inhaled antibiotics work to help control bacteria in your lungs.
The tables below list bacteria common among people with CF, the antibiotics that are commonly prescribed to treat them, and how they are taken.
|Type and Kinds
|Meropenem, imipenem/cilastatin, doripenem, meropenem/avibactam
|Type and Kinds
CF and Antibiotic Resistance
It is particularly important to take antibiotics exactly as they've been prescribed by your doctor, even if you no longer feel the symptoms of an infection. Not doing so can allow the remaining bacteria in your system to become resistant to the antibiotic, which will make it more difficult to treat.
Antibiotic-resistant infections are a real concern among people with CF and over time, can lead to fewer treatment options. Your CF care team will watch for signs of resistance and help you understand how to prevent or decrease the risk of developing infections from resistant bacteria.
Talk to your care team if you have questions about how to take the antibiotic, including the sequence for taking the drug in relation to your other treatments, what you should expect and do if you experience side effects, and what to do if you miss a dose or cannot complete the full course.
Alcohol interferes with the effectiveness of many antibiotics. It is a good rule to avoid consuming alcohol while taking antibiotics. Antibiotics also can decrease the effectiveness of oral contraceptives in women.
What Should I Expect After Taking Them?
Antibiotics typically begin working 48 to 72 hours after you begin taking them. It may take a day or so before you start to feel better. As the antibiotics work to break up the mucus, coughing may increase, which is why some people feel worse before they feel better.
You may experience side effects when you take any medication, including antibiotics. When discussing any new medications or changes in dosages for medications you are already taking, be sure to ask your care team about:
- Any potential side effects
- Which side effects might be more serious than others
- How long they might last
- When to talk to your care team if side effects don't go away or if they interfere with your quality of life
Let your care team know if you feel any side effect that bothers you or makes it hard for you to continue taking this medication as prescribed. Your care team can work with you to help you manage side effects or to adjust your treatment plan.
You can learn more about antibiotics at DailyMed, which is a service from the National Library of Medicine that provides information about drugs, including dosages and possible side effects. You can learn more about specific antibiotics by searching for the medication from the main DailyMed page.
Where Are These Medications Available?
For IV antibiotics given in the hospital, clinic, or hospital, staff work with the appropriate individuals to provide the therapy. For IV antibiotics that will be administered at home, clinic, or hospital, staff work with home care agencies to arrange delivery and therapy. Oral antibiotics are typically available at retail pharmacies and mail-order pharmacies. Inhaled antibiotics are available through specialty pharmacies that are contracted with specific insurance plans. Medications from specialty pharmacies often need to be handled and stored specially and delivered quickly.
Insurance plan coverage for some antibiotics can vary. For antibiotics that are specifically indicated for CF treatment, most insurance providers should provide coverage. For antibiotics that are not specifically indicated for CF treatment, insurance coverage may be more difficult to arrange. For example, although the antibiotic colistimethate (Colistin®) is often prescribed as an inhaled treatment for P. aeruginosa, it is considered an injectable antibiotic. Because it is not specifically indicated to be used in that way, coverage may be declined by insurers. Check with your insurance provider to ensure that the antibiotic is covered and confirm what your out-of-pocket expenses may be.
You can also contact the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Compass, a free, personalized service that can help you with insurance, financial, legal, and other issues. Dedicated Compass case managers can assist in coordinating benefits or providing information about benefits offered under your plans. Contact Compass at:
Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. ET