Generic Name: erythromycin (e-rith-roe-MYE-sin)
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Sep 8, 2020.
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
- PremierPro RX Erythromycin
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Antibiotic
Chemical Class: Macrolide
Uses for erythromycin
Erythromycin belongs to the family of medicines called antibiotics. Erythromycin ophthalmic preparations are used to treat infections of the eye. They also may be used to prevent certain eye infections of newborn babies, such as neonatal conjunctivitis and ophthalmia neonatorum. They may be used with other medicines for some eye infections.
Erythromycin is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before using erythromycin
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For erythromycin, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to erythromycin or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Studies on erythromycin have been done only in adult patients, and there is no specific information comparing use of erythromycin in children with use in other age groups.
Many medicines have not been studied specifically in older people. Therefore, it may not be known whether they work exactly the same way they do in younger adults or if they cause different side effects or problems in older people. There is no specific information comparing use of erythromycin in the elderly with use in other age groups.
Studies in women suggest that this medication poses minimal risk to the infant when used during breastfeeding.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking erythromycin, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using erythromycin with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Proper use of erythromycin
- First, wash your hands. Tilt the head back and, pressing your finger gently on the skin just beneath the lower eyelid, pull the lower eyelid away from the eye to make a space. Squeeze a thin strip of ointment into this space. A 1-cm (approximately 1/3-inch) strip of ointment is usually enough, unless you have been told by your doctor to use a different amount. Let go of the eyelid and gently close the eyes. Keep the eyes closed for 1 or 2 minutes to allow the medicine to come into contact with the infection.
- To keep the medicine as germ-free as possible, do not touch the applicator tip to any surface (including the eye). After using erythromycin eye ointment, wipe the tip of the ointment tube with a clean tissue and keep the tube tightly closed.
To help clear up your infection completely, keep using erythromycin for the full time of treatment, even if your symptoms begin to clear up after a few days. If you stop using erythromycin too soon, your symptoms may return. Do not miss any doses.
The dose of erythromycin will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of erythromycin. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For ophthalmic ointment dosage form:
- For treatment of eye infections:
- Adults and children—Use in the eyes up to six times a day as directed by your doctor.
- For prevention of neonatal conjunctivitis and ophthalmia neonatorum:
- Newborn babies—Use in the eyes once at birth.
- For treatment of eye infections:
If you miss a dose of erythromycin, apply it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Precautions while using erythromycin
If your symptoms do not improve within a few days, or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
After application, eye ointments usually cause your vision to blur for a few minutes.
Erythromycin side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- Eye irritation not present before therapy
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
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- Drug class: ophthalmic anti-infectives