Clarithromycin

Description

Clarithromycin is a macrolide antibiotic used for the treatment of bacterial infections. Clarithromycin is available on prescription as a tablet, suspension, syrup, injection, gel, and lotion. The oral and injectable forms are used to treat bacterial infections of the lungs, airways, ears, and skin. It is also used with other medications to kill helicobacter pylori bacteria that cause stomach ulcers. The topical forms are used to treat acne or pimples. Clarithromycin stops the growth of bacteria causing the infection. It is not effective against infections caused by viruses. Common side effects are diarrhoea, stomach pain, headache, weakness, nausea, and vomiting. Use it cautiously in individuals with gastrointestinal (mouth to anus) diseases, particularly colitis (swelling of the inner lining of the colon) due to the risk of severe diarrhoea. Clarithromycin should only be used to treat or prevent infections that are caused by bacteria. Once an antibiotic is started, it is always recommended to finish the entire course of treatment. You can take this medicine with or without food. For the ease of remembering, take it around the same time every day.

Side effects

Major & minor side effects for Clarithromycin

  • Indigestion
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Itching and skin rash
  • Acid or sour stomach
  • Excessive gas in stomach
  • Headache
  • Heartburn
  • Dizziness
  • Lower back pain
  • Change in taste/ Metallic taste

Uses of Clarithromycin

What is it prescribed for?

  • Pharyngitis/Tonsilitis
  • Bronchitis
  • Community-Acquired Pneumonia
  • Sinusitis
  • Acute otitis media
  • Peptic Ulcer
  • Skin and soft tissue infections
  • Mycobacterium Avium Complex
  • Pertussis
Read More
Concerns

Commonly asked questions

  • Onset of action
    You will start to feel better in 3 to 5 days after taking clarithromycin. But finish your entire course of treatment, even if your condition gets better.
  • Duration of effect
    The duration of action for clarithromycin 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 Clarithromycin.
  • Usage in pregnancy?
    Clarithromycin 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?
    Clarithromycin is not known to be harmful in breastfeeding women. It passes into breast milk at very low levels. Hence it is acceptable for use in nursing mothers upon your doctor's recommendation.

Allergy

Avoid taking Clarithromycin 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 Clarithromycin 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.

Statins

The combined use of Clarithromycin and statins (cholesterol medicines) such as atorvastatin, simvastatin, etc., can cause serious side effects on muscles such as pain, tenderness, or weakness.
Warnings for special population

Pregnancy

Clarithromycin 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

Clarithromycin is not known to be harmful in breastfeeding women. It passes into breast milk at very low levels. Hence it is acceptable for use in nursing mothers upon your doctor's recommendation.
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 Clarithromycin with extreme caution in patients with myasthenia gravis since it may get worsen.

Antacids

If you are taking an antacid containing aluminium and magnesium salts for indigestion, it can increase the time it takes for Clarithromycin 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.

Antibiotic resistance

Finish your entire course of treatment with Clarithromycin, 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.

Diarrhoea

Clarithromycin 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.

Driving or operating machinery

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

Missed Dose

Oral forms: Try not to skip a dose. And if a dose is skipped, do not add it up to the next dose. Injection: This medicine is administered in the hospital or clinical setting by a qualified healthcare professional, the likelihood of a missed dose is very low. Topical forms: Apply the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose. Do not apply a double dose to make up for the missed dose.

Overdose

Seek emergency medical attention in case of an overdose.
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

Clonazepam

Pimozide

Carbamazepine

Amiodarone

Ethinyl Estradiol

Atorvastatin

Disease interactions

QT Prolongation

Clarithromycin may cause a 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.

Gastrointestinal Disorders

Clarithromycin can kill the helpful bacteria in your stomach or intestine and leads to diarrhoea. Therefore use Clarithromycin with extreme caution in patients with gastrointestinal (mouth to anus) diseases, particularly colitis (swelling of the inner lining of the colon), since it may worsen the patient's condition.

Kidney Disease

Clarithromycin is filtered by the kidney and moved out of the body through urine. Patients with kidney diseases need special consideration while taking Clarithromycin due to the risk of kidney damage. Dose adjustment should be done based on the clinical condition.
Food interactions
Information not available.
Lab interactions
Information not available.
Clarithromycin uses for treating bacterial infections is proven to be safe and effective. Clarithromycin 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. Topical forms: 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
Clarithromycin works by stopping the bacterial protein synthesis that is essential for its growth. Thus it kills or stops the growth of bacteria.
Legal Status

Approved

Approved

Approved

Approved

Classification

Category

Macrolides, Antibiotics

Schedule

Schedule H

Medicines.org.uk. 2020. [online] Available at: < [Accessed 26 December 2020].

https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/files/pil.7072.pdf>

Drugs, H., 2020. Clarithromycin: Medlineplus Drug Information. [online] Medlineplus.gov. Available at: < [Accessed 22 December 2020].

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a692005.html>

Mri.cts-mrp.eu. 2020. [online] Available at: < [Accessed 26 December 2020].

https://mri.cts-mrp.eu/human/downloads/BE_H_0166_002_FinalPL.pdf>

Clarithromycin | Drugbank Online. [online] Available at: < [Accessed 30 December 2020]

https://go.drugbank.com/drugs/DB01211>

Pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. 2020. Clarithromycin. [online] Available at: < [Accessed 30 December 2020].

https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Clarithromycin>

Go.drugbank.com. 2020. Clarithromycin | Drugbank Online. [online] Available at: < [Accessed 30 December 2020].

https://go.drugbank.com/drugs/DB01211>

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Information on this page was last updated on 20 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.