Generic Name: clarithromycin (kla-RITH-roe-MYE-sin)
Brand Name: Biaxin
Clarithromycin is used for:
Treating infections caused by certain bacteria. It may also be used to prevent a certain infection in persons with advanced HIV infection.
Clarithromycin is a macrolide antibiotic. It works by stopping the growth of or killing sensitive bacteria by reducing the production of important proteins needed by the bacteria to survive.
Do NOT use clarithromycin if:
- you are allergic to any ingredient in clarithromycin or to any other macrolide (eg, erythromycin)
- you have had liver problems or yellowing of the skin or eyes caused by previous use of clarithromycin
- you have a very slow heartbeat or certain types of irregular heartbeat (eg, QT prolongation, long QT syndrome, ventricular arrhythmias)
- you have low blood potassium or magnesium levels
- you are taking alfuzosin, certain antiarrhythmics (eg, amiodarone, dofetilide, dronedarone, procainamide, propafenone, quinidine, sotalol), asenapine, avanafil, bosutinib, cabazitaxel, cisapride, citalopram, conivaptan, crizotinib, diltiazem, eletriptan, an ergot alkaloid (eg, dihydroergotamine, ergotamine), everolimus, ivabradine, lovastatin, lurasidone, nilotinib, pimozide, quinupristin/dalfopristin, ranolazine, regorafenib, salmeterol, sildenafil, silodosin, simvastatin, tadalafil, tamsulosin, tetrabenazine, ticagrelor, tolvaptan, vardenafil, or vincristine
- you have kidney or liver problems and you are also taking colchicine
Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.
Before using clarithromycin:
Some medical conditions may interact with clarithromycin. 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 the blood disorder porphyria, kidney problems, liver problems, or myasthenia gravis
- if you have a history of heart problems (eg, fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat), or 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 clarithromycin. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:
- Many prescription and nonprescription medicines (eg, used for abortion, allergies, anxiety, asthma or other lung or breathing problems, blood thinning, blood vessel problems, cancer, Cushing syndrome, cystic fibrosis, decreased blood clot formation, depression or other mental or mood problems, diabetes, enlarged prostate, erectile dysfunction, gout, hepatitis C infection, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high prolactin levels, HIV, Huntington chorea, immune system suppression, infections, inflammation, irregular heartbeat or other heart problems, migraines, myelofibrosis, narcotic addiction, nausea and vomiting, pain, parathyroid problems, pulmonary arterial hypertension [PAH], overactive bladder, seizures, sleep, stomach or bowel problems, Tourette syndrome), multivitamin products, and herbal or dietary supplements because they may interact with clarithromycin. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure if any of your medicines might interfere with clarithromycin.
This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if clarithromycin 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 clarithromycin:
Use clarithromycin as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.
- Take clarithromycin by mouth with or without food.
- If you are also taking zidovudine, do not take it within 2 hours before or after clarithromycin.
- Clarithromycin works best if it is taken at the same time(s) each day.
- To clear up your infection completely, take clarithromycin for the full course of treatment. Keep taking it even if you feel better in a few days.
- If you miss a dose of clarithromycin, take 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 take 2 doses at once.
Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use clarithromycin.
Important safety information:
- Dizziness or confusion may occur while you take clarithromycin. Use clarithromycin with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
- Clarithromycin only works against bacteria; it does not treat viral infections (eg, the common cold).
- This product may contain tartrazine dye (FD&C Yellow No. 5). This may cause an allergic reaction in some patients. If you have ever had an allergic reaction to tartrazine, ask your pharmacist if your product has tartrazine in it.
- Long-term or repeated use of clarithromycin 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 clarithromycin 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.
- Mild diarrhea is common with antibiotic use. However, a more serious and sometimes fatal 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 stools occur. Do not treat diarrhea without first checking with your doctor.
- Severe and sometimes fatal liver problems have been reported with clarithromycin. This has usually been reversible when the medicine is stopped. Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor. Tell your doctor right away if you experience symptoms of liver problems (eg, yellowing of the skin or eyes; dark urine; pale stools; severe or persistent nausea, loss of appetite, or stomach pain; unusual tiredness).
- A very bad skin reaction (Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis) may happen. It can cause very bad health problems that may not go away and sometimes death. Get medical help right away if you have signs like red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin (with or without fever); red or irritated eyes; or sores in your mouth, throat, nose, or eyes.
- Tell your doctor or dentist that you take clarithromycin before you receive any medical or dental care, emergency care, or surgery.
- Diabetes patients - Clarithromycin may rarely affect your blood sugar. Check blood sugar levels closely. Ask your doctor before you change the dose of your diabetes medicine.
- There have been reports of tooth discoloration with the use of clarithromycin. This has usually been reversible with a dental cleaning.
- There have been reports of hearing loss with clarithromycin, usually in elderly women. This has usually been reversible. Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor.
- Use clarithromycin with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially irregular heartbeat (prolonged QT interval).
- Clarithromycin should be used with extreme caution in CHILDREN younger than 6 months old; safety and effectiveness in these children have not been confirmed.
- PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: Clarithromycin has been shown to cause harm to the fetus. Clarithromycin is not recommended for use during pregnancy except when no other antibiotics can be used. If you think you may be pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using clarithromycin while you are pregnant. Clarithromycin is found in breast milk. If you are or will be breast-feeding while you use clarithromycin, check with your doctor. Discuss any possible risks to your baby.
Possible side effects of clarithromycin:
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:
Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:
Abnormal taste; diarrhea; mild stomach pain; nausea; vomiting.
Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); bloody or watery stools; confusion; decreased urination; dizziness; fast or irregular heartbeat; hallucinations; loss of taste or sense of smell; mental or mood changes (eg, depression); muscle pain or weakness; nightmares; purple spots on the skin; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin; seizures; severe or persistent diarrhea or stomach cramps; severe stomach pain (with or without nausea or vomiting); symptoms of liver problems (eg, yellowing of the skin or eyes; dark urine; pale stools; severe or persistent nausea, loss of appetite, or stomach pain; unusual tiredness); tremor; trouble sleeping.
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.Proper storage of clarithromycin:
Store clarithromycin at room temperature, between 68 and 77 degrees F (20 and 25 degrees C), in a tightly closed container. Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep clarithromycin out of the reach of children and away from pets.
- If you have any questions about clarithromycin, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
- Clarithromycin is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
- If your symptoms do not improve 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 clarithromycin 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 clarithromycin. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to clarithromycin. 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 clarithromycin.
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.
More about clarithromycin
- Side Effects
- During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
- Dosage Information
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- Drug class: macrolides
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- Clarithromycin (Advanced Reading)