What is Azithromycin and why is it prescribed?
Azithromycin is an antibiotic related to erythromycin. It is prescribed for adults to treat certain mild to moderate skin infections, upper and lower respiratory tract infections, including pharyngitis, tonsillitis, worsening of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and pneumonia, sexually transmitted infections of the cervix or urinary tract, and genital ulcer disease in men. In children, Azithromycin is used to treat middle ear infection, pneumonia, tonsillitis, and strep throat. There is a possibility of rare but very serious reactions to Azithromycin, including angioedema, anaphylaxis, and serious skin diseases. If you develop these symptoms, stop taking Azithromycin and call your doctor immediately.

How should you take Azithromycin?
Follow your doctors directions for taking Azithromycin. Take Azithromycin capsules at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal. Azithromycin tablets and oral suspension can be taken with or without food. Do not take any form with an antacid that contains aluminum or magnesium, such as Di-Gel, Gelusil, Maalox, and others. If you are using single-dose packets of Azithromycin powder for oral suspension, mix the entire contents of each packet with 2 ounces of water, drink immediately, then add an additional 2 ounces of water, mix again, and drink to make sure you have taken the entire dose. When giving the pediatric suspension, shake the bottle thoroughly before each use and measure the dose with the supplied calibrated dropper. Use the pediatric suspension within 10 days and throw out any that remains. Be sure to take all the Azithromycin prescribed. If you stop taking Azithromycin too soon, some germs may survive and the illness may return. If you miss a dose take the forgotten dose as soon as you remember. If you don't remember until the next day, skip the dose and go back to your regular schedule. Never take two doses at once. Azithromycin should be stored at room temperature.

Are there any Azithromycin side effects?
Azithromycin side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, inform your doctor as soon as possible. More common Azithromycin side effects may include abdominal pain, diarrhea or loose stools, and nausea or vomiting. Less common Azithromycin side effects may include blood in the stools, chest pain, dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, gas, headache, heart palpitations, indigestion, itching, jaundice, kidney infection, light sensitivity, rash, severe allergic reaction including swelling, vaginal inflammation, vertigo, and yeast infection. Other uncommon Azithromycin side effects sometimes seen in children include agitation, constipation, cough, facial swelling, feeling of illness, fever, fungal infection, insomnia, loss of appetite, nervousness, overactivity, pinkeye, runny nose, shortness of breath, sore throat, stomach inflammation, and sweating. The single large dose of Azithromycin that is prescribed to treat sexually transmitted infection of the cervix or urinary tract is more likely to cause stomach and bowel side effects than the smaller doses prescribed for a skin or respiratory tract infection.

What are the possible food and drug interactions when taking Azithromycin?
If Azithromycin is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. Be sure to inform your doctor of all the prescription and over the counter medications you are taking. Do not take Azithromycin with antacids containing aluminum or magnesium, such as Maalox and Mylanta. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Azithromycin with Nelfinavir (Viracept), Warfarin (Coumadin), Digoxin (Lanoxin, Lanoxicaps), Ergot-containing drugs (such as Cafergot and D.H.E.), Cyclosporine (Neoral and Sandimmune), Hexobarbital, or Phenytoin (Dilantin).

Are there any special warnings about Azithromycin?
Like certain other antibiotics, Azithromycin may cause a potentially life-threatening form of diarrhea called pseudomembranous colitis. Pseudomembranous colitis may clear up spontaneously when the drug is stopped. If it does not, hospital treatment may be required. If you develop diarrhea, check with your doctor immediately. If you have a liver problem, your doctor should monitor you very carefully while you are taking Azithromycin.

Information on this website is provided for educational purposes and should not replace discussions with your doctor.


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