Azithromycin is a generic antibiotic medication used in the treatment of certain conditions caused by infectious bacteria. The 'œbroad-spectrum' nature of this antibiotic makes it a preferred medication for treating a wide range of bacterial infections. Respiratory, skin, and ear infections, and some sexually transmitted diseases (STD's) are among those commonly treated.
The drug is available in the US by doctor's prescription only and is sold under the brands Zithromax, Zma, Zithromax Tri-Pak, and Zithromax Z-Pak. It comes in the form of a tablet and powder for oral and extended-release suspension. The medicine works by killing and preventing the growth and spread of the infection-causing bacteria.
Patients must complete the full course of the antibiotic even if they feel better before finishing. Otherwise, the infection may return or spread and become worse.
The use of Azithromycin is prohibited in certain children and should be used with caution in elderly adults and pregnant or breastfeeding women. Patients with medical problems that could increase the risk of serious adverse interaction should not use this drug. The drug is not recommended for patients with heart problems due to the risk of serious cardiovascular complications, and even death.
This medicine is a suitable alternative for people with bacterial infections who are allergic to the antibiotic, penicillin. It may also be used for treating other conditions not discussed in this article. But patients with viral infections, e.g., colds and flu, cannot be treated with this medicine.
Some common bacterial infections treated are:
Before starting treatment with this antibiotic, it is important for you to have a thorough discussion with your doctor, so you can understand how this medicine works and how it can affect you. Disclose the use of all prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines you are taking or plan to take during treatment.
If you are allergic to certain foods, preservatives, animals or dyes make sure you mention this. This information will help your doctor to determine if this medicine is safe for use. In discussing your medical history, make sure you tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding or have or had the following conditions. They may be affected by your use of the medication:
Pediatrics: The safety and efficacy of using the medicine in children have not been established as it relates to the treatment of pneumonia or sinusitis in children younger than 6 months. The oral suspension and tablet forms of the drug may not be safe for use in treating tonsillitis or pharyngitis in children under the age of 2.
Geriatrics: Azithromycin should be used with caution in elderly patients because they are more likely to develop heart problems.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women: There are no conclusive findings of possible harm to an unborn baby. There is minimal risk to a breastfeeding infant exposed to the medicine through breast milk. Therefore, the use of the drug in
pregnant or breastfeeding women should be determined by a doctor.
With most medicines, side effects are expected as the medicine performs its function in the body. Some side effects may occur that may or may not need medical attention. Stop using Azithromycin and call your doctor right away if you experience any of the following side effects, as they may be serious:
The following are some of the possible side effects that may occur, but may not need medical attention:
This is not an all-inclusive list of possible side effects. Also, some of them that occur may not require medical attention. They generally go away on their own as the body adjusts to the treatment.
If they become worse or bothersome, speak with your healthcare professional or doctor. You may also ask for a complete list of all possible side effects and ways to prevent or reduce them. Side effects may be reported to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Adults and children can be treated with Azithromycin. Dosage depends on age, the condition being treated, how severe the condition is, the patient's reaction to the first dose, and the duration of treatment. The presence of any other medical condition is another factor considered in setting the dosage.
Do not start or stop using or change the dose of the medicine without approval from your healthcare professional. The following is an average recommended dosage guide. Your dose and how often you take it will be given to you by the pharmacist. Follow those instructions and any other given to you by your doctor and the prescription label.
Suspensions (including extended-release) are Azithromycin powder mixed with water.
Adults: Take a single dose of 500 to 2000 milligrams (mg). Additional doses of 250 to 500mg, once a day for several days may be prescribed depending on the type of infection being treated.
Children and Infants (age 6 months and older): Dose is determined by a doctor based on age and body weight.
Infants (age 6 months and younger): This medication is not recommended for children under 6 months of age. In exceptional cases, and if the benefits outweigh the risks, dose may be determined by a doctor.
Adults: Day 1: take 500 milligrams (mg) at once, taken as a single dose. Follow up with a 250mg dose on Day 2 through Day 5.
Children (Age 2 years and older): Dose is determined by a doctor based on age and body weight.
Children (Age 2 years and younger): Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
Adults: Take 2 grams (g) at once as a single dose.
Children (weighing 75 pounds (34 kg) or more): Take 2 g once as a single dose.
Children and infants (age 6 months and older weighing less than 75 pounds (34 kg): Dose must be determined by a doctor.
Adults: Take 2 grams (g) at once as a single dose.
Children: Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
If you miss a dose of Azithromycin, take it as soon as possible. If it is too close to the time for your next scheduled dose, wait and take the next dose on time. Do not take an extra dose to make up for the missed dose.
There is reportedly no data on Azithromycin overdose. If an overdose does occur, call 911 or the Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222 and get urgent medical care.
Other medications (prescription, non-prescription), vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products may interact with Azithromycin. Medical problems (or history of), foods and other agents, such as alcohol or tobacco, may also cause interactions. When interaction occurs, it may adversely affect the body or increase the risk for serious side effects.
Tell your doctor of all your medicines. Ensure you also tell any other healthcare provider who will be treating you or performing surgeries while you are taking this antibiotic.
In exceptional cases, medicines that may interact with Azithromycin may still be prescribed for you because it is best for your health. Your doctor may change other medicines you take or adjust your dose to accommodate them in such cases.
The medicines on the following list are not recommended to be used while using this antibiotic. There are other medicines that may interact, but these were chosen based on their potential to cause a significant interaction. Your doctor may still decide to treat you while taking necessary precautions.
Here is a list of medicines that are not usually recommended for use during any treatment with Azithromycin. However, their use may be required and prescribed in some cases. To ensure the co-combination treatment works effectively, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use any of the medicines.
Even though it may be the best treatment for you, using any of the following drugs with Azithromycin may increase the risk of certain side effects. If you must use any of them, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use it during treatment with this antibiotic.
Food, alcohol and tobacco: Ask your doctor what foods you should avoid while taking the treatment as certain foods may cause an interaction. Similarly, the use of alcohol or tobacco during treatment may adversely interact with the drug.
Allergies: Patients allergic to any macrolide or ketolide antibiotic such as erythromycin should not be treated with Azithromycin. Tell your doctor about any of these allergies.
Azithromycin is not recommended for use in the patients with these medical problems:
Use with caution in patients with the following conditions, as it may make the conditions worse:
Use with caution in patients with the following conditions, as the side effects may be increased because of slower removal of the medicine from the body:
Azithromycin (Zithromax) is not recommended to treat pneumonia in patients with these conditions:
If you still feel unwell after fully completing your treatment with the antibiotic, call your doctor and make another appointment to follow up.
Keep Azithromycin stored safely and out of the reach of children and pets. Keep the medicine in a closed container and store at room temperature or refrigerate as directed. Avoid exposing it to heat, moisture, and direct light.
You may store the oral suspension at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Keep from freezing. Do not refrigerate or freeze the extended-release suspension.
Azithromycin tablet, oral liquid, and extended-release suspension are safe to use. They generally produce the desired results when used strictly according to the directions given.
This 'œbroad-spectrum' drug is known to effectively treat a wide range of bacterial infections in adults and children. They include serious infections such as pneumonia and sinusitis. It is also suitable for patients who are allergic to other antibiotics, particularly penicillin.
The safety and efficacy of the medicine are well established for patients who are generally healthy, with minimal restrictions for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Children 6 months of age and older may be safely treated with the drug, as determined by a doctor. Patients should use this medicine only if the benefits outweigh the risks.
There is, of course, a non-exhaustive list of side effects caused by the medicine. Most of them are rare or fall into the class of side effects with incidence unknown. Many of the effects are gastrointestinal in nature and include nausea, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort. Some side effects are considered serious and usually require medical attention.
Azithromycin interacts with co-existing medical problems which can affect the way the medicine is intended to work. Interactions can also increase the risk for serious side effects or risk of cardiovascular death in heart patients. Certain medications can be used while taking Azithromycin even though they may interact, while some others should not be used.
The use of antacids is also not recommended while taking this drug because they tend to interfere with its absorption in the body.
To get the best out of the treatment with Azithromycin, it is critical that patients take their doses regularly and on time. Patients are also required to complete the treatment cycle before discontinuing use of the medicine, even if they feel better before the treatment ends.
Failing to strictly follow the directions to take and complete the course of the antibiotic may cause the infection to spread or become worse. Furthermore, the bacterial infection may become resistant to Azithromycin treatment or treatment with other antibiotics.