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Azithromycin is a macrolide antibiotic used in treatment or
prevention of a wide variety of bacterial infections. It is one of
the most widely-used antibiotics in the world.
This medication is effective only against certain types of bacteria
and will not help combat viral infections.
Who Uses Azithromycin?
Azithromycin an effective antibacterial for nearly everyone,
including infants, the elderly, and people with compromised immune
It is commonly prescribed to treat:
- Strep throat
- Skin infections
- Pneumonia and other respiratory infections
- Ear infections
- Other bacterial infections
Azithromycin is also sometimes prescribed to prevent heart
infection in patients requiring dental work, treatment for early
Lyme disease, and to treat certain types of STDs or prevent STDs
from developing in exposed persons.
How Does it Work?
Azithromycin interferes with the protein synthesis of bacteria,
which prevents bacteria from growing and reproducing. In healthy
adults the immune system will work with the medication to quickly
eradicate the infection. Treatment may be longer in patients with
weakened immune systems.
In many cases a test will be preformed to verify the infection is
bacterial before a prescription will be written. This medication is
not effective against infections caused by viruses.
How is it Taken?
When taking Azithromycin, like any antibiotic, it is important to
follow physician instructions and complete the treatment even if
the infection seems to be gone. There may still be lingering
bacteria, and stopping treatment early encourages development of
antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains.
Azithromycin comes in tablet or liquid form. It is typically taken
once a day for about 5 days. Physician instructions will vary
depending on the condition being treated and the patient's age,
health, and other factors.
It should be taken with a full glass of fluid, with or without
Missed doses should be taken when remembered, unless it is near
time for the next dose, in which case it can be skipped entirely.
Do not take double doses.
Active ingredient: azithromycin monohydrate
Inactive ingredients: lactose monohydrate, carmine, talc,
calcium phosphate, titanium dioxide, hypromellose, butylated
hydroxytoluene, magnesium stearate, colloidal silicon dioxide,
triacetin, sodium lauryl sulfate, pregelatinized starch, FD&C
yellow # 6, FD&C red # 40
Patients with known hypersensitivity to any of the ingredients
in Azithromycin should not use this product.
For the most part Azithromycin is a very safe medication, but there
are a few things to keep in mind:
- Antacids containing magnesium or aluminum may interfere with
Azithromycin's effectiveness and should not be taken for at least 2
hours after taking Azithromycin.
- Some patients are more susceptible to sunburn while taking
Azithromycin. Avoid tanning beds and use protection if out in the
sun for long periods.
Most side effects are mild, including headache, nausea, difficulty
sleeping, mild rashes, mild diarrhea, and insomnia.
More severe side effects are rare, but warrant immediate medical
Contraindications and Interactions:
- Uneven or rapid heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Persistent or bloody diarrhea
- Jaundice (yellowing of skin or eyes)
- Any sign of allergic reaction such as hives or swelling of the
tongue, throat or eyes
There are many drugs that may interact with Azithromycin. As with
any medication, the prescribing physician should be made aware of
all medical conditions and all prescription and non-prescription
drugs being taken to avoid negative interactions.
Patients with a history of jaundice or liver problems may be at
greater risk of certain side effects. The benefits versus risks
associated with the medication should be discussed with a physician
As mentioned above, Azithromycin is one of the most widely-used
antibiotics in the world. It is a safe and effective treatment for
nearly any kind of bacterial infection, suitable for nearly any
patient regardless of age or health.