Azithromycin

Description

Azithromycin is a broad-spectrum macrolide antibiotic. This antibiotic is used to treat various bacterial infections of the lungs, throat, skin, nose, ears, and eyes. It can be also used with other antibiotics to treat certain infections caused by sexually transmitted organisms like Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, etc. Azithromycin has also been used to treat the flu-like symptoms of COVID 19 and has been efficacious in some patients. This medicine kills or stops the growth of bacteria causing the infection. It is not effective against infections caused by viruses. Common side effects of Azithromycin are diarrhoea, stomach pain, headache, changes in sense of taste, weakness, nausea, and vomiting. Use it cautiously in individuals with liver problems. Azithromycin is available on prescription as capsules, tablets, liquid, injection, gel, eye drops, and eye ointment. Due to its once-daily dosing regime for a period of 3-5 days, it has become a frequent choice for all doctors and patients. Once an antibiotic is started, it is always recommended to finish the entire course of treatment. You can take Azithromycin with or without food. For the ease of remembering, take Azithromycin around the same time every day.

Side effects

Major & minor side effects for Azithromycin

  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Painful urination
  • Excessive air or gas in stomach
  • Loss of appetite
  • Redness of the skin
  • Dizziness
  • Skin rash
  • Stomach pain
  • Pain at the injection site

Uses of Azithromycin

What is it prescribed for?

  • Community-Acquired Pneumonia
  • Acute bacterial otitis media
  • Pharyngitis/Tonsilitis
  • Skin and soft tissue infections
  • Acute bacterial Sinusitis
  • Mycobacterium Avium Complex
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
  • Gonococcal Urethritis and Cervicitis
  • Acne vulgaris
  • Bacterial conjunctivitis
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Concerns

Commonly asked questions

  • Onset of action
    You will start to feel better in 3 to 5 days after taking azithromycin. But finish your entire course of treatment, even if your condition gets better.
  • Duration of effect
    The duration of action for azithromycin is not clinically determined.
  • Safe with alcohol?
    Interaction with alcohol is unknown. It is advisable to consult your doctor before consumption.
  • Is it habit forming?
    No habit forming tendency has been reported for Azithromycin.
  • Usage in pregnancy?
    Azithromycin is generally safe in pregnancy to treat bacterial infections. It is not known to cause any harm to the fetus. However, in early pregnancy, it can increase the risk of major birth defects and therefore should only be used upon your doctor's recommendation.
  • Usage while breast-feeding?
    Azithromycin is not recommended for use in breastfeeding women unless absolutely necessary. Do not take it during children’s first six months. While breastfeeding it may cause diarrhoea, vomiting, or rash in the nursing baby.

Allergy

Avoid taking Azithromycin if you are previously allergic to it. Serious allergic reactions to this medicine are rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of allergic reactions such as skin rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, breathing difficulties, etc.

Liver damage

Do not use Azithromycin in patients with a history of cholestatic jaundice (a condition of reduced bile flow from the liver to the small intestine) or impaired liver function associated with prior use of this medicine.
Warnings for special population

Pregnancy

Azithromycin is generally safe in pregnancy to treat bacterial infections. It is not known to cause any harm to the fetus. However, in early pregnancy, it can increase the risk of major birth defects and therefore should only be used upon your doctor's recommendation.

Breast-feeding

Azithromycin is not recommended for use in breastfeeding women unless absolutely necessary. Do not take it during children’s first six months. While breastfeeding it may cause diarrhoea, vomiting, or rash in the nursing baby.
General warnings

Myasthenia gravis

Myasthenia gravis is a skeletal muscle weakness condition characterized by severe weakness of any of the muscles under your voluntary control, including the arms and legs. Use Azithromycin with extreme caution in patients with myasthenia gravis since it may get worsen.

Antibiotic resistance

Finish your entire course of treatment with Azithromycin, even if the condition gets better to avoid antibiotic resistance (the bacteria may become resistant to antibiotics). If you still feel unwell after completing your antibiotic course, make an appointment to consult your doctor.

Driving or operating machinery

Azithromycin may cause blurred vision, dizziness, or drowsiness and hence do not perform any activities such as driving a vehicle or operating machinery if you experience any of these symptoms.

Diarrhoea

Azithromycin can cause diarrhoea because it may also kill the helpful bacteria in your stomach or intestine. Get emergency medical help if you experience severe diarrhoea that is watery or bloody. Call your pharmacist/doctor before taking anti-diarrhoeal medication.

Antacids

If you are taking an antacid containing aluminium and magnesium salts for indigestion, it can increase the time it takes for Azithromycin to act on your body. Because of this, it is recommended to take this antibiotic at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after taking antacids.

Missed Dose

Take the missed dose as soon as possible. If it is already time for your next scheduled dose, skip the missed dose.

Overdose

If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, seek immediate medical attention.
All drugs interact differently for person to person. You should check all the possible interactions with your doctor before starting any medicine.
Interaction with Alcohol

Description

Interaction with alcohol is unknown. It is advisable to consult your doctor before consumption.

Instructions

Interaction with alcohol is unknown. It is advisable to consult your doctor before consumption.
Interaction with Medicine

Amiodarone

Pimozide

Aluminium Hydroxide/Magnesium Hydroxide

Digoxin

Theophylline

Warfarin

Atorvastatin

Disease interactions

QT Prolongation

Azithromycin may cause heart rhythm problem called prolonged QT intervals (an electrical heartbeat disturbance) in some patients who are taking heart medications. It may result in fast, rapid, and irregular heartbeats.

Liver Disease

Patients with liver diseases need special consideration while taking Azithromycin due to the risk of liver damage. Dose adjustment should be done based on the clinical condition.
Food interactions
Information not available.
Lab interactions
Information not available.
Azithromycin uses for treating bacterial infections is proven to be safe and effective. Azithromycin 500 mg daily for 5 days dosing regime has made this medicine a frequent choice for all doctors and patients. Azithromycin content is available in different dosage forms. Oral forms: Take the medicine with or without food. Never take more than the prescribed dose. Do not give your medicine to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours. Injection: The medicine should be administered by a qualified healthcare professional in a clinic or hospital. Eyedrops/Eye ointment: Use as directed by the doctor.
Miscelleneous

Can be taken with or without food, as advised by your doctor

To be taken as instructed by doctor

May cause sleepiness

How it works
Azithromycin works in two ways in our body: 1. It kills or stops the growth of bacteria. 2. It reduces swelling and infections.
Legal Status

Approved

Approved

Approved

Approved

Classification

Category

Macrolides, Antibiotics

Schedule

Schedule H

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https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a697037.html>

Npra.gov.my. 2020. [online] Available at: < [Accessed 26 December 2020].

https://npra.gov.my/images/reg-and-noti/PI/scheduled-poison/AZITHROMYCIN-TAB-ORAL-SUSP.pdf>

Sunpharma.com. 2020. [online] Available at: < [Accessed 26 December 2020].

https://sunpharma.com/sites/default/files/Patient%20Insert%20-%20Azithromycin%20for%20Inj.pdf>

Dailymed.nlm.nih.gov. 2020. Dailymed - AZITHROMYCIN- Azithromycin For Injection Injection, Powder, Lyophilized, For Solution Injection. [online] Available at: < [Accessed 26 December 2020].

https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=679af699-714d-a3a3-674b-fc9ae4474a9a>

Go.drugbank.com. 2020. Azithromycin | Drugbank Online. [online] Available at: < [Accessed 26 December 2020].

https://go.drugbank.com/drugs/DB00207>

Labeling.pfizer.com. 2020. [online] Available at: < [Accessed 26 December 2020].

http://labeling.pfizer.com/ShowLabeling.aspx?id=511>

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Information on this page was last updated on 16 Feb 2021

Disclaimer

We’ve made all possible efforts to ensure that the information provided here is accurate, up-to-date and complete, however, it should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Practo only provides reference source for common information on medicines and does not guarantee its accuracy or exhaustiveness. The absence of a warning for any drug or combination thereof, should not be assumed to indicate that the drug or combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for any given patient. Practo does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information provided above. If you have any doubts about your medication then we strongly recommend that you consult with your doctor, nurse or healthcare provider. See detailed T&C here.