Health Guide
Drug Guide

Azithromycin (Oral route)

Pronunciation:

ay-zith-roe-MYE-sin

Brand Names:

Dosage Forms:

Classifications:

Therapeutic

Antibiotic

Chemical

Macrolide

Uses of This Medicine:

Azithromycin is used to treat certain bacterial infections in many different parts of the body. This medicine may mask or delay the symptoms of syphilis. It is not effective against syphilis infections.

Azithromycin belongs to the class of drugs known as macrolide antibiotics. It works by killing bacteria or preventing their growth. However, this medicine will not work for colds, flu, or other virus infections.

This medicine is available only with your doctor's prescription.

Before Using This Medicine:

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:

Allergies

Tell your doctor 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. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.

Children

Safety and efficacy have not been established for the treatment of sinusitis in pediatric patients or for infants younger than 6 months of age. Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of azithromycin to treat sinusitis in children or to treat pneumonia in children younger than 6 months of age.

Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of azithromycin oral suspension and tablets to treat pharyngitis or tonsillitis in children younger than 2 years of age. Safety and efficacy have not been established.

Older adults

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of azithromycin in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have heart rhythm problems (e.g., torsades de pointes) which may require caution in patients receiving azithromycin.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy CategoryExplanation
All TrimestersBAnimal studies have revealed no evidence of harm to the fetus, however, there are no adequate studies in pregnant women OR animal studies have shown an adverse effect, but adequate studies in pregnant women have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus.

Breast-feeding

Studies in women suggest that this medication poses minimal risk to the infant when used during breastfeeding.

Other medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking this medicine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

Other interactions

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other medical problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

Proper Use of This Medicine:

Take this medicine only as directed by your doctor. Do not take more of it, do not take it more often, and do not take it for a longer time than your doctor ordered.

This medicine comes with a patient information leaflet. Read and follow the instructions carefully. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.

You may take Zithromax® oral liquid or tablets with or without food.

Shake well the bottle of Zithromax® oral liquid before each use. Measure your dose correctly with a marked measuring spoon, oral syringe, or medicine cup. The average household teaspoon may not hold the right amount of liquid.

Measure the extended-release oral liquid with a marked measuring spoon, syringe, or cup. You or your child must take this medicine within 12 hours after it has been mixed with water. It is best to take the extended-release oral liquid on an empty stomach or at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal. If your child does not use all of the medicine in the bottle, throw it away after you give the dose.

If you or your child vomits within one hour of taking the extended-release oral liquid, call your doctor right away to see if more medicine is needed.

Keep using this medicine for the full treatment time, even if you or your child feel better after the first few doses. Your infection may not clear up if you stop using the medicine too soon.

If you are taking aluminum or magnesium-containing antacids, do not take them at the same time that you take Zithromax®. These medicines may keep azithromycin from working properly. However, you can take antacids with Zmax®.

Dosing

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

Missed dose

If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.

Storage

Keep out of the reach of children.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.

Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.

Do not refrigerate or freeze the extended-release oral liquid. After water has been added to the powder, use the dose within 12 hours and throw away any unused liquid after your dose.

You may store the oral liquid at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Do not freeze the bottle. Do not keep the oral liquid for more than 10 days. Throw away any unused liquid after all doses are completed.

Precautions While Using This Medicine:

It is very important that your doctor check the progress of you or your child at regular visits to make sure this medicine is working properly. Blood and urine tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.

If you or your child's symptoms do not improve within a few days, or if they become worse, check with your doctor.

This medicine may cause serious allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. Call your doctor right away if you or your child have a rash; itching; hives; hoarseness; shortness of breath; trouble breathing; trouble swallowing; or any swelling of your hands, face, or mouth after you take this medicine.

Serious skin reactions can occur with this medicine. Stop using this medicine and check with your doctor right away if you or your child have blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin; red skin lesions; severe acne or skin rash; sores or ulcers on the skin; or fever or chills while you are using this medicine.

Stop using this medicine and check with your doctor right away if you or your child have pain or tenderness in the upper stomach; pale stools; dark urine; loss of appetite; nausea; unusual tiredness or weakness; or yellow eyes or skin. These could be symptoms of a serious liver problem.

Azithromycin may cause diarrhea, and in some cases it can be severe. It may occur 2 months or more after you stop using this medicine. Do not take any medicine to treat diarrhea without first checking with your doctor. Diarrhea medicines may make the diarrhea worse or make it last longer. If you or your child have any questions about this or if mild diarrhea continues or gets worse, check with your doctor.

This medicine can cause changes in heart rhythms, such as a condition called QT prolongation. It may change the way your heart beats and cause fainting or serious side effects in some patients. Contact your doctor right away if you or your child have any symptoms of heart rhythm problems, such as fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeats.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.

Side Effects of This Medicine:

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

More common
Diarrhea
loose stools
Less common
Blistering, crusting, irritation, itching, or reddening of the skin
cracked, dry, or scaly skin
fever
swelling
Rare
Abdominal or stomach pain
blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
bloody or cloudy urine
bloody, black, or tarry stools
body aches or pain
burning while urinating
chest pain
chills
congestion
cough increased
cough producing mucus
dark urine
difficult or labored breathing
difficult or painful urination
dizziness
drowsiness
dryness or soreness of the throat
earache
fainting
fast, irregular, pounding, or racing heartbeat or pulse
general feeling of discomfort or illness
general feeling of tiredness or weakness
headache
indigestion
irregular or slow heart rate
itching
joint or muscle pain
large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs
light-colored stools
loss of appetite
muscle aches and pains
nausea or vomiting
noisy breathing
passing of gas
rash
red skin lesions, often with a purple center
red, irritated eyes
redness or swelling in the ear
runny nose
shivering
shortness of breath
sneezing
sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
stomach pain, continuing
stomach pain, fullness, or discomfort
stuffy nose
sweating
swelling of the face, ankles, hands, feet, or lower legs
tender, swollen glands in the neck
tightness in the chest
trouble with sleeping
trouble with swallowing
unpleasant breath odor
unusual bleeding or bruising
unusual tiredness or weakness
upper right abdominal or stomach pain
voice changes
vomiting of blood
wheezing
yellow eyes or skin
Incidence not known
Abdominal or stomach cramps or tenderness
bleeding gums
bloating
blood in the urine or stools
blurred vision
change in hearing
clay-colored stools
coma
confusion
constipation
continuing ringing or buzzing or other unexplained noise in the ears
decreased urine output
depression
diarrhea, watery and severe, which may also be bloody
dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
fainting
greatly decreased frequency of urination or amount of urine
hives
hostility
increased thirst
irritability
lethargy
loss of hearing
lower back or side pain
muscle twitching
pains in the stomach, side, or abdomen, possibly radiating to the back
pale skin
pinpoint red spots on the skin
puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
rapid weight gain
seizures
stupor
unusual weight loss

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

Rare
Acid or sour stomach
aggressive or angry
bad, unusual, or unpleasant (after) taste
belching
burning feeling in the chest or stomach
burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
change in taste
changes in the color of the tongue
crying
depersonalization
dry mouth
dysphoria
euphoria
excess air or gas in the stomach or intestines
feeling of constant movement of self or surroundings
full feeling
heartburn
hyperventilation
increase in body movements
itching of the vagina or genital area
lack or loss of strength
mental depression
nervousness
pain during sexual intercourse
paranoia
quick to react or overreact emotionally
rapidly changing moods
rash with flat lesions or small raised lesions on the skin
redness of the skin
restlessness
sensation of spinning
shaking
shortness of breath
sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
sleeplessness
sore mouth or tongue
stomach upset
thick, white vaginal discharge with no odor or with a mild odor
unable to sleep
white patches in the mouth, tongue, or throat
Incidence not known
Difficulty with moving
fear or nervousness
increased sensitivity of the skin to sunlight
muscle pain or stiffness
pain in the joints
redness or other discoloration of the skin
severe sunburn
trouble sitting still

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


Last Updated: 9/15/2016

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