By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor

Generic Name: Colistin Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.


What is colistin used for?

In general, colistin is commonly used for the treatment of infections caused by Gram-negative bacilli. It works by stopping the growth of bacteria.

OTHER USES: This section contains uses of this drug that are not listed in the approved US professional labeling for the drug but that may be prescribed by your health care professional. Use this drug for a condition that is listed in this section only if it has been so prescribed by your health care professional.

In patients with cystic fibrosis, inhaled colistimethate may be used to treat serious bacterial lung infections (Pseudomonas aeruginosa). See also the Storage section for information about important safety concerns when this medication is inhaled.

How should I take colistin?

  • Coly-Mycin M is usually given as an injection at your doctor’s office, hospital, or clinic. If you will be using Coly-Mycin M at home, a health care provider will teach you how to use it. Be sure you understand how to use Coly-Mycin M. Follow the procedures you are taught when you use a dose. Contact your health care provider if you have any questions.
  • To clear up your infection completely, use Coly-Mycin M for the full course of treatment. Keep using it even if you feel better in a few days.
  • Do not use Coly-Mycin M if it contains particles, is cloudy or discolored, or if the vial is cracked or damaged.
  • Keep this product, as well as syringes and needles, out of the reach of children and pets. Do not reuse needles, syringes, or other materials. Ask your health care provider how to dispose of these materials after use. Follow all local rules for disposal.
  • If you miss a dose of Coly-Mycin M, use it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not use 2 doses at once.
  • Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use Coly-Mycin M.

How do I store colistin?

Colistin is best stored in the refrigerator. To prevent drug damage, do not freeze. There may be different brands of colistin that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush colistin down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using colistin?

Some medical conditions may interact with colistin. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.
  • If you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement.
  • If you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances.
  • If you have kidney problems.
  • Tell your doctor or dentist that you take Coly-Mycin M before you receive any medical or dental care, emergency care, or surgery.

Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using colistin during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking colistin. Colistin is pregnancy risk category C, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk;
  • B=No risk in some studies;
  • C=There may be some risk;
  • D=Positive evidence of risk;
  • X=Contraindicated;
  • N=Unknown.

Side effects

What side effects can occur from colistin?

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most common side effects persist or become bothersome.

  • Dizziness;
  • Abnormal skin sensations around the mouth;
  • Itching;
  • Numbness or tingling of the fingers or toes;
  • Slurred speech;
  • Stomach upset;
  • Mild diarrhea.

 Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.


What drugs may interact with colistin?

Colistin may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects.

  • Sodium cephalothin because the risk of kidney problems may be increased.
  • Aminoglycosides (e.g., gentamicin), curariform muscle relaxants (e.g., tubocurarine), decamethonium, nondepolarizing muscle relaxants (e.g., gallamine), polymyxin, sodium citrate, or succinylcholine because their actions and the risk of their side effects, including difficulty breathing, may be increased.

To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Does food or alcohol interact with colistin?

Colistin may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with colistin?

Colistin may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.


The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using colistin.

What is the dose of colistin for an adult?


Bowel sterilisation, Gastrointestinal infections

Colistin sulfate: 1.5-3 MIU tid.


Severe Gram-negative infections.

Colistimethate Na (strength expressed in terms of colistin base): 2.5-5 mg/kg/day in 2-4 divided doses. Max: 5 mg/kg/day.

Renal impairment

CrCl >80 mL/min: Same as adult dose.

CrCl 50-79 mL/min: 2.5-3.8 mg/kg/day IV/IM divided q12hr.

CrCl 30-49 mL/min: 2.5 mg/kg/day IV/IM qDay or divided q12hr.

CrCl 10-29 mL/min: 1.5 mg/kg IV/IM q36hr.

What is the dose of colistin for a child?


Bowel sterilisation, Gastrointestinal infections

Colistin sulfate: <15 kg: Not suitable; 15-30 kg: 0.75-1.5 MIU tid.


Severe Gram-negative infections

Colistimethate Na (strength expressed in terms of colistin base): 2.5 mg/kg/day divided 6-12 hr.

How is colistin available?

Colistin is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • Colistimethate sodium 150mg in 2ml.

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services (115) or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of colistin, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: October 19, 2016 | Last Modified: September 13, 2019