About Xifaxan for hepatic encephalopathy

What is Xifaxan 550 mg?

Xifaxan 550 mg is an antibiotic that works in the gut. That means it fights bacteria, or germs in your gut. It is a medicine the doctor may give you to help lessen the chances that your hepatic encephalopathy will come back. These are called "recurrences" of the condition.

How does Xifaxan 550 mg work?

Xifaxan 550 mg works in hepatic encephalopathy by altering the bacterial content of the gut. These bacteria make toxins, such as ammonia. With fewer bacteria, fewer toxins are produced. That means that fewer toxins can build up in your brain. This helps reduce the risk of hepatic encephalopathy recurrences.

Xifaxan 550 mg is different from other antibiotics used for hepatic encephalopathy. This is because it targets the gut. Other antibiotics that are used to treat hepatic encephalopathy actually enter the bloodstream much more than Xifaxan 550 mg. These other antibiotics may lead to certain unpleasant side effects. In clinical trials, Xifaxan 550 mg caused side effects similar to those of a sugar pill.

Clinical results with Xifaxan 550 mg

A scientific study was run to test how Xifaxan 550 mg could help people with a history of hepatic encephalopathy. People studied were at least 18 years old and had episodes of hepatic encephalopathy in the past. They took 1 Xifaxan 550 mg tablet 2 times a day for 6 months. Almost all of the people were also taking lactulose at the same time. Lactulose is another medicine, usually taken in the form of a sweet, sugary liquid, that is used to treat hepatic encephalopathy.

The study found that

  • Xifaxan 550 mg may lower the risk of having another hepatic encephalopathy recurrence
  • Xifaxan 550 mg may reduce the chances of being hospitalized due to hepatic encephalopathy

What to expect while taking Xifaxan 550 mg for hepatic encephalopathy

In the scientific study of Xifaxan 550 mg, doctors kept track of the side effects happening to people taking Xifaxan 550 mg. They compared these with the people who weren't taking Xifaxan 550 mg and found that both groups had similar side effects in this study.

The most common side effects associated with Xifaxan 550 mg—occurring in >10% of people and greater than placebo (sugar pill)—were found to be

  • Peripheral edema (swelling, usually in the ankles or lower limbs)
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach)
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue (feeling tired)
  • Ascites (a buildup of fluid in the abdomen)

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