What is Humatin, and Who Should Be Using it?

Woman in a white top sits on her bed and clutches her stomach in pain.
  • Humatin (paromomycin sulfate) is an FDA-approved antibiotic used to treat chronic and acute cases of an internal parasitic infection that causes diarrhea, stomach pain, cramping, fever, and nausea, among other symptoms.

  • This medication inhibits parasitic growth and proliferation by interfering with its ability to synthesize proteins.

  • Most people who take this medication for a short course of treatment do not experience side effects.

What is Humatin?

Humatin®, known generically as paromomycin, is an aminoglycoside antimicrobial used to treat intestinal amebiasis (a parasite of the gut) and as a combination treatment for hepatic coma, a liver disorder.

This medication is not absorbed into the bloodstream like many other medications and is only broken down in the stomach and intestines, making it ideal for targeting parasites or bacteria that can take hold in the digestive tract. And, because of its mechanism of action, aminoglycoside antibiotics like Humatin are getting a second look from bacterial infection researchers.

What is an Aminoglycoside Antibiotic?

Aminoglycoside antibiotics are a group of medicines that can target gram-negative bacilli, known to be some of the most medication-resistant organisms. This means that many common, first-line antibiotics are ineffective in treating these infections.

Aminoglycoside antibiotics, like Humatin, can be used to prevent gram-negative bacteria from growing, stop their spread, and ultimately eliminate the infection. Because of their ability to combat gram-negative infections, they’ve become a focal point as more bacteria develop resistance to common antibiotics.

What is Humatin Used For?

Humatin (paromomycin) is used to treat amebiasis, an acute or chronic parasitic infection of the intestines that most commonly affects those living in tropical regions. For Americans, it most frequently occurs in those who have traveled abroad.

Humatin is effective in stopping the growth of Entamoeba histolytica, a parasite that infects the intestine and causes gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea and bloody stool.

Humatin may also be used in a special diet recommended for treating a serious brain condition called hepatic encephalopathy, or hepatic coma. This condition is caused by liver disease that triggers an excess of ammonia in the body.

Humatin can prevent the growth of ammonia-producing bacteria which then reduces the risk of developing severe complications like permanent brain damage and even death.

Humatin for the Treatment of Amebiasis

Amebiasis is an intestinal illness caused by a parasite called Entamoeba histolytica. Estimates are that millions of individuals are infected globally, as this parasite thrives in many tropical environments, and as many as 100,000 people die annually due to amebiasis infections.

Amebiasis is spread by ingesting contaminated food and water, or through contact with human feces. You can also contract amebiasis through contact with the mouth or rectal area of an infected person.

Although amebiasis usually doesn’t cause serious symptoms, you may experience:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach and abdominal pain
  • Cramps
  • Fever
  • Bloody stools

In severe cases, the parasite may infect the liver and cause abscesses to form on the organ.

It’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you suspect that you may have contracted amebiasis, particularly if you’ve traveled to tropical or unsanitary locations where these parasites tend to thrive. Early treatment can help to avoid more serious complications.

A short, 2-week course of Humatin can rapidly eliminate an amebiasis infection, and the medication has been approved by the FDA for this reason.

Humatin for the Treatment of Hepatic Coma

Hepatic coma or hepatic encephalopathy is a severe outcome from liver failure, occurring as the liver loses function and ammonia builds up in the blood, eventually impacting the brain.

In some cases, this condition can also occur suddenly.

Hepatic coma is curable and can be reversed with the right treatment and restoration of liver function or blood filtering. Humatin is used as an adjunct therapy to help destroy ammonia-causing bacteria, helping to reduce the amount of ammonia being created in the body.

Hepatic coma is a serious outcome from liver disease and other conditions that can impact the liver, and Humatin can be a great treatment option for the right people.

What Does the FDA Say About Humatin?

Humatin has been approved by the FDA for treating and preventing parasitic infections, as well as hepatic coma.

It’s recommended that this medication is only used when it’s been proven that an internal parasite is causing the infection. If an infection or symptoms are caused by something else, Humatin likely won’t be an effective treatment due to its highly targeted mechanism of action.

Using Humatin when it’s not the right treatment may contribute to antibiotic-resistant infections.

Humatin is also poorly absorbed into the bloodstream, which means it won’t be effective in treating external parasitic infections.

How Do I Know If I Have a Parasite or Amebiasis?

For anyone in the U.S. who has traveled overseas or is concerned recent gastrointestinal symptoms could be a parasite, there are ways to diagnose a parasitic infection.

Amebiasis is a parasitic infection of the large intestine caused by Entamoeba histolytica.

It occurs all over the world, but the likelihood of infection and frequency are much higher in developing countries due to poor sanitation, increased fecal contamination of drinking water, and warmer climates where this parasite tends to thrive.

Diagnosis is usually accomplished with a stool sample, which can be performed in a local lab or through a mail-order lab test. In the case of Humatin, Entamoeba histolytica must be differentiated from other intestinal infections like Escherichia coli (E. coli) before the right diagnosis and treatment can be planned.

Man in yellow shirt is sitting on a couch and is holding a medication pill. A glass of water is on the table in front of him.

Everything to Know About Taking Humatin

Your doctor will determine the right Humatin dose for you based on your weight, the medical condition you need to treat, and your response to treatment.

For intestinal amebiasis, Humatin is usually prescribed at 25 to 35 mg per kilogram of body weight daily. Your daily dose will likely be split and taken in three equal doses per day for five to ten days.

To manage and treat hepatic encephalopathy or a hepatic coma, a daily cumulative dose of 4 grams is generally taken for five to six days.

How should Humatin capsules be administered?

This medication should be taken orally with meals, usually three times a day or every eight hours.

If you need to follow a different regime, your doctor will indicate how and when you should take Humatin.

Is Humatin available over the counter?

Humatin is a prescription antibiotic that must be prescribed by a licensed medical professional in the U.S. This means that you won’t be able to buy Humatin as an over-the-counter (OTC) medication.

Paromomycin — the generic version of Humatin — is also only available with a prescription.

You can make a telehealth appointment with LifMD and speak with a board-certified doctor or nurse practitioner from your mobile device.

Woman sitting comfortably on a couch in her home and talking to a doctor via her laptop.

What Are the Potential Side Effects of Humatin?

Side effects can occur when taking Humatin; however, most side effects are mild-to-moderate and resolvable by taking the medication as prescribed by your doctor.

Most people who notice side effects while taking Humatin will experience only mild and transient issues. These may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Heartburn
  • Cramps
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea

It’s important to take note of any side effects you may experience. If they worsen or don’t go away, you should seek medical advice.

A small portion of people who use Humatin may experience severe reactions to the medication, although this is extremely rare. Severe side effects of Humatin may include:

  • Ringing or roaring sounds in the ears
  • Hearing loss
  • Dizziness
  • Numb or tingling skin
  • Muscle weakness
  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Oily stools

If you experience any of these side effects, be sure to seek emergency medical care right away.

What are the contraindications for Humatin?

Individuals who have paromomycin sulfate sensitivity may experience a serious allergic reaction if they take Humatin.

This medication may also cause an intestinal obstruction — a blockage that prevents food or liquid from passing through the intestines.

Possible Drug Interactions: Which Medication Shouldn’t Be Used with Humatin?

Humatin is known to interact with certain medications, including:

  • Digoxin (used to treat heart conditions)
  • Penicillin and similar antibiotics
  • Succinylcholine (a muscle relaxant used during surgery or medical ventilation)

If you’re taking any of the above medications or will have to use them while on Humatin, speak with your doctor first.

Depending on your circumstances, your doctor may recommend that you:

  • Stop taking the medication
  • Change the medication to something else
  • Adjust your dosage

You should also inform your doctor about any other medications you are taking, or plan to take while on Humatin. This will help them determine if Humatin is the safest option for you.

Should You Take Any Precautions Before Using Humatin?

Humatin is a potent antibiotic that should only be used to treat applicable parasitic infections, and sometimes in the use of hepatic impairment.

Before taking Humatin, you should indicate to your healthcare provider if you have any allergies — especially to ingredients like gentamicin or tobramycin.

Humatin contains active ingredients that may cause adverse reactions or other medical problems, and your doctor should be aware of any sensitivities beforehand.

As with any new medication, you should also tell your doctor about any medications you’re currently taking and any medical conditions that you have. This will help them to recommend the right Humatin dose, when necessary.

Your medical history — such as if you’ve had stomach ulcers or intestinal blockages in the past — may also affect your Humatin dose and regimen.

Indicate any intention to get vaccinated

Humatin may cause live bacterial vaccines like the typhoid injection to be less effective.

If you plan on getting any immunizations or vaccines while on Humatin, you’ll need to indicate this to your doctor.

Can You Overdose on Humatin?

Humatin should be taken exactly as prescribed to avoid an overdose. If you’ve missed a dose, you shouldn’t double your daily intake to catch up. Skip the missed dose rather than increase your dose to make up the difference.

In the unlikely event of an overdose, you or the person taking Humatin may pass out or experience breathing difficulties.

If this happens, seek medical help immediately.

Are There Any Long-Term Complications of Using Humatin?

Most antibiotics, like Humatin, shouldn’t be used for longer than prescribed by a medical professional.

Prolonged or repeated periods of using antibiotics has been linked to gut health problems and other chronic conditions.

Frequently using antibiotics may also increase your chance of developing resistance to these drugs. This makes it more difficult to treat conditions that require antibiotics, and drug resistance may also make you more susceptible to reinfection.

How Do You Know If You Need Humatin, or if You Have Amebiasis?

If you suspect that you may have amebiasis, be sure to seek medical attention as soon as possible. It’s also recommended to consult with your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve within a few days while on a medication regimen. Your doctor will likely adjust your dose to make the medication more tolerable.

LifeMD is a telehealth partner for Humatin, helping patients get a diagnosis and determine the right course of treatment from the comfort of their own homes.

Through a virtual telehealth visit, a board-certified doctor or nurse practitioner can help you determine what’s causing your discomfort, prescribe the right medications, and have your prescription sent to your nearest pharmacy.

It’s fast and easy — and you can stay in touch with your prescribing physician by messaging them in the LifeMD patient portal at any time.

LifeMD makes it easy to stay on top of your health because talking to a doctor, filling your prescriptions, getting your labs done—and more—are all easy and cost-effective.
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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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