Generic Name: erythromycin (e-RITH-roe-MYE-sin BASE STEER-ate)
Brand Name: Examples include Erythrocin and Erythromycin Filmtabs
Erythromycin is used for:
Treating infections caused by certain bacteria. It is also used to prevent attacks of rheumatic fever. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.
Erythromycin is a macrolide antibiotic. It works by killing or slowing the growth of sensitive bacteria.
Do NOT use erythromycin if:
- you are allergic to any ingredient in erythromycin
- you have a very slow heartbeat or a certain type of irregular heartbeat (QT prolongation, long QT syndrome)
- you have low blood potassium or magnesium levels
- you are taking certain antiarrhythmics (eg, amiodarone, dofetilide, dronedarone, procainamide, propafenone, quinidine, sotalol), asenapine, astemizole, cisapride, diltiazem, eletriptan, an ergot alkaloid (eg, dihydroergotamine, ergotamine), an HIV protease inhibitor (eg, ritonavir), certain imidazole antifungals (eg, itraconazole, ketoconazole, voriconazole), nilotinib, pimozide, a streptogramin (eg, quinupristin/dalfopristin), terfenadine, tetrabenazine, tolvaptan, or verapamil
Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.
Before using erythromycin:
Some medical conditions may interact with erythromycin. 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 diarrhea
- if you have a history of kidney or liver disease; heart problems; a fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat; low blood potassium or magnesium levels; myasthenia gravis; or the blood disease porphyria
- if you take 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 erythromycin. 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 aches and pains, allergies, blood thinning, breathing problems, cancer, diabetes, erection problems, gout, irregular heartbeat or other heart problems, hepatitis C infection, high blood calcium levels, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, HIV infection, inflammation, infections, low blood sodium levels, migraine, mood or mental problems, nausea and vomiting, overactive bladder, Parkinson disease, prevention of organ transplant rejection, seizures, stomach problems, trouble sleeping), multivitamin products, and herbal or dietary supplements (eg, herbal teas, coenzyme Q10, garlic, ginseng, ginkgo, St. John's wort) may also interact with erythromycin. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure if any of your medicines might interfere with erythromycin
This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if erythromycin 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 erythromycin:
Use erythromycin as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.
- Take erythromycin by mouth on an empty stomach at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after eating. If stomach upset occurs, take with food to reduce stomach irritation.
- Erythromycin works best if it is taken at the same time(s) each day.
- To clear up your infection completely, take erythromycin for the full course of treatment. Keep taking it even if you feel better in a few days.
- Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while you use erythromycin.
- If you miss a dose of erythromycin, 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 erythromycin.
Important safety information:
- 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 stools occur. Do not treat diarrhea without first checking with your doctor.
- Erythromycin only works against bacteria; it does not treat viral infections (eg, the common cold).
- Be sure to use erythromycin 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.
- Long-term or repeated use of erythromycin 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.
- Tell your doctor or dentist that you take erythromycin before you receive any medical or dental care, emergency care, or surgery.
- Rarely, patients taking erythromycin have developed reversible hearing loss. The risk is greater if you have kidney problems or you take high doses of erythromycin. Contact your doctor if you develop decreased hearing or hearing loss.
- Erythromycin may interfere with certain lab tests. Be sure your doctor and lab personnel know you are taking erythromycin.
- Lab tests, including liver function, kidney function, and complete blood cell counts, may be performed while you use erythromycin. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
- Use erythromycin with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially irregular heartbeat (prolonged QT interval).
- PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using erythromycin while you are pregnant. Erythromycin is found in breast milk. If you are or will be breast-feeding while you use erythromycin, check with your doctor. Discuss any possible risks to your baby.
Possible side effects of erythromycin:
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:
Loss of appetite; mild diarrhea; nausea; stomach pain; vomiting.
Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); bloody stools; change in the amount of urine produced; decreased hearing or hearing loss; irregular heartbeat; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin; seizures; severe diarrhea; severe stomach pain; stomach cramps; symptoms of liver problems (eg, yellowing of the skin or eyes; pale stools; severe or persistent nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite; dark urine).
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 erythromycin:
Store erythromycin at room temperature, below 86 degrees F (30 degrees C). Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep tightly closed. Keep erythromycin out of the reach of children and away from pets.
- If you have any questions about erythromycin, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
- Erythromycin 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 erythromycin 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 erythromycin. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to erythromycin. 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 erythromycin.
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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