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Azithromycin

Pronunciation

Generic Name: azithromycin (ay-ZITH-roe-MYE-sin)
Brand Name: Zithromax

Azithromycin is used for:

Treating infections caused by certain bacteria. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Azithromycin is a macrolide antibiotic. It slows the growth of, or sometimes kills, sensitive bacteria by reducing the production of important proteins needed by the bacteria to survive.

Do NOT use azithromycin if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in azithromycin, to other macrolide antibiotics (eg, erythromycin), or to ketolide antibiotics (eg, telithromycin)
  • you have a history of liver problems or yellowing of the skin or eyes caused by any doseform (eg, tablets, suspension, injection) of azithromycin
  • you have a certain type of irregular heartbeat (QT prolongation), low blood potassium or magnesium levels, or a very slow heartbeat
  • you are taking amiodarone, cisapride, dofetilide, dronedarone, nilotinib, pimozide, procainamide, propafenone, quinidine, sotalol, or tetrabenazine

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

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Before using azithromycin:

Some medical conditions may interact with azithromycin. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have liver or kidney problems, a slow or irregular heartbeat, or myasthenia gravis
  • if you have a history of low blood potassium or magnesium levels
  • if you are taking any medicine that may increase the risk of a certain type of irregular heartbeat (prolonged QT interval). Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure if any of your medicines may increase the risk of this type of irregular heartbeat

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with azithromycin. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Many other prescription and nonprescription medicines (eg, used for allergies, blood thinning, cancer, depression or other mental or mood problems, heartburn, infections, involuntary movements, irregular heartbeat or other heart problems, narcotic addiction, nausea and vomiting, pain, Tourette disorder), multivitamin products, and herbal or dietary supplements (eg, herbal teas, coenzyme Q10, garlic, ginseng, St. John's wort) may interact with azithromycin. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure if any of your medicines might interact with azithromycin

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if azithromycin may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use azithromycin:

Use azithromycin as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Azithromycin is usually given as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. If you will be using azithromycin at home, a health care provider will teach you how to use it. Be sure you understand how to use azithromycin. Follow the procedures you are taught when you use a dose. Contact your health care provider if you have any questions.
  • Do not use azithromycin if it contains particles, is cloudy or discolored, or if the vial is cracked or damaged.
  • Keep this product, as well as syringes and needles, out of the reach of children and pets. Do not reuse needles, syringes, or other materials. Ask your health care provider how to dispose of these materials after use. Follow all local rules for disposal.
  • To clear up your infection completely, use azithromycin for the full course of treatment. Keep using it even if you feel better in a few days.
  • If you miss a dose of azithromycin, use it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not use 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use azithromycin.

Important safety information:

  • Azithromycin may cause drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, or light-headedness. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use azithromycin with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • Azithromycin may cause you to become sunburned more easily. Avoid the sun, sunlamps, or tanning booths until you know how you react to azithromycin. Use a sunscreen or wear protective clothing if you must be outside for more than a short time.
  • Mild diarrhea is common with antibiotic use. However, a more serious form of diarrhea (pseudomembranous colitis) may rarely occur. This may develop while you use the antibiotic or within several months after you stop using it. Contact your doctor right away if stomach pain or cramps, severe diarrhea, or bloody or watery stools occur. Do not treat diarrhea without first checking with your doctor.
  • Tell your doctor or dentist that you take azithromycin before you receive any medical or dental care, emergency care, or surgery.
  • Severe and sometimes fatal liver problems have been reported with the use of azithromycin. Contact your doctor immediately if you develop symptoms of liver problems (eg, yellowing of the skin or eyes; dark urine; pale stools; severe or persistent nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite; unusual itching). Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor.
  • Long-term or repeated use of azithromycin may cause a second infection. Tell your doctor if signs of a second infection occur. Your medicine may need to be changed to treat this.
  • Be sure to use azithromycin for the full course of treatment. If you do not, the medicine may not clear up your infection completely. The bacteria could also become less sensitive to this or other medicines. This could make the infection harder to treat in the future.
  • Azithromycin only works against bacteria; it does not treat viral infections (eg, the common cold).
  • Use azithromycin with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially irregular heartbeat.
  • Azithromycin should be used with extreme caution in CHILDREN younger than 16 years old; safety and effectiveness in these children have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using azithromycin while you are pregnant. It is not known if azithromycin is found in breast milk. If you are or will be breast-feeding while you use azithromycin, check with your doctor. Discuss any possible risks to your baby.

Possible side effects of azithromycin:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Diarrhea or loose stools; headache; mild stomach pain; nausea; upset stomach; vomiting.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing or swallowing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, throat, or tongue; unusual hoarseness; wheezing); bloody or watery stools; changes in hearing or hearing loss; chest pain; eye or vision problems; irregular heartbeat; mouth sores; muscle weakness; pain or inflammation at the injection site; pounding in the chest; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin; ringing in the ears; seizure; severe dizziness; severe or persistent diarrhea; stomach cramps or pain; symptoms of liver problems (eg, yellowing of the skin or eyes; dark urine; pale stools; severe or persistent nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite; unusual itching); trouble speaking or swallowing; unusual vaginal itching, odor, or discharge.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include diarrhea; nausea; upset stomach; vomiting.

Proper storage of azithromycin:

Azithromycin is usually handled and stored by a health care provider. If you are using azithromycin at home, store azithromycin as directed by your pharmacist or health care provider. Keep azithromycin out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about azithromycin, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Azithromycin is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people. Do not use azithromycin for other health conditions.
  • If your symptoms do not improve within a few days or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take azithromycin or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about azithromycin. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to azithromycin. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using azithromycin.

Issue Date: July 2, 2014
Database Edition 14.3.1.001
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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