Smiling healthcare provider familiar with what gentamicin is used for

What Is Gentamicin Used For?

Written on July 29, 2023 by Gillian (Gigi) Singer, MPH. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

Table of contents

What Is Gentamicin?

Gentamicin is an antibiotic medication that is injectable and “is used to treat certain serious infections that are caused by bacteria.”[1] It falls into the “class of medications called aminoglycoside antibiotics.”[1]

Because gentamicin is an antibiotic and works by killing bacteria, “gentamicin injection will not work for colds, flu, or other viral infections.”[1] In fact, “taking antibiotics when they are not needed increases your risk of getting an infection later that resists antibiotic treatment.”[1]

What Is Gentamicin Used For?

Gentamicin, as aforementioned, is an injectable drug that can be injected into a vein (intravenously) or into a muscle (intramuscularly): “When gentamicin is injected intravenously, it is usually infused (injected slowly) over a period of 30 minutes to 2 hours once every 6 or 8 hours. The length of your treatment depends on the type of infection you have.”[1]

The drug can be administered in a hospital or at home, and during the first few days after the injection, you should start to feel better.

You should always finish the entire course of antibiotic treatments, including gentamicin: “If you stop using gentamicin injection too soon or skip doses, your infection may not be completely treated, and the bacteria may become resistant to antibiotics,” which affects current and future treatments.[1]

Who Shouldn’t Use Gentamicin

According to The Mayo Clinic[2]:

  • You should tell your healthcare provider “if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals."
  • “Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of gentamicin injection in children. However, this medicine should be used with caution in premature and newborn infants.”
  • “No information is available on the relationship of age to the effects of gentamicin injection in geriatric patients. However, elderly patients are more likely to have kidney problems, which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving gentamicin injection.”
  • “Studies in women suggest that this medication poses minimal risk to the infant when used during breastfeeding.”

Gentamicin can cause serious kidney problems, and you must inform your healthcare provider of any history of kidney conditions or kidney disease. These kidney problems are most likely to occur in older people and people that are dehydrated.[2]

What Gentamicin Treats

Gentamicin treats bacterial conditions such as “meningitis (infection of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord) and infections of the blood, abdomen (stomach area), lungs, skin, bones, joints, and urinary tract.”[1]

Gentamicin is also used to treat sexually transmitted infections (STIs), specifically pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), gonorrhea, and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

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Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) occurs when “the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries become infected with sexually transmitted bacteria.”[3] This infection, occurring in people assigned female at birth (AFAB), affects about 1.5 million people between the ages of 18 and 44.[4]


“Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection” that “typically only affects areas of your body that came into contact with an infected sexual partner.”[5]

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are incredibly common bacterial infections that are estimated to affect half of people assigned female at birth (AFAB) at some point.[7]

Getting Treatment

For diagnosis and treatment, you can go to your usual HCP or primary care physician, to a clinic, or to urgent care.

Another option is to utilize Everlywell’s option for online STD treatment or virtual care visits if you're concerned about an infection such as an STI.

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  1. Gentamicin injection: Medlineplus drug information. MedlinePlus. Accessed July 18, 2023.
  2. Gentamicin (injection route). Mayo Clinic. Accessed July 18, 2023.
  3. What antibiotics treat pelvic inflammatory disease? Everlywell. May 17, 2023. Accessed July 18, 2023.
  4. Kreisel K. Prevalence of pelvic inflammatory disease in sexually experienced women of reproductive age — United States, 2013–2014. CDC. Published January 27, 2017. Accessed July 18, 2023.
  5. STD facts - gonorrhea. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published August 22, 2022. Accessed July 18, 2023.
  6. Zhang Y, Wu JG, Zhou HJ, Huang WX, Jia B. Efficacy of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for treatment of uncomplicated lower urinary tract infections in women: A meta-analysis: A meta-analysis. Infect Microbes Dis. 2020;2(2):77-82. doi:10.1097/im9.0000000000000020.
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