Medically reviewed: March 16, 2018
What is erythromycin?
Erythromycin is used to treat or prevent many different types of infections caused by bacteria.
Erythromycin may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Some medicines can cause unwanted or dangerous effects when used with erythromycin. Your doctor may need to change your treatment plan if you use cisapride, pimozide, ergotamine, or dihydroergotamine.
Before taking this medicine
You should not take erythromycin if you are allergic to it.
Some medicines can cause unwanted or dangerous effects when used with erythromycin. Your doctor may need to change your treatment plan if you use any of the following drugs:
To make sure erythromycin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
liver or kidney disease;
a heart rhythm disorder;
an electrolyte imbalance (such as low levels of potassium or magnesium in your blood);
a history of Long QT syndrome; or
if you take medicine to treat a heart rhythm disorder.
FDA pregnancy category B. Erythromycin is not expected to harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.
Erythromycin can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
Do not give this medicine to a child without a doctor's advice.
How should I take erythromycin?
Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
If a child is using this medicine, tell your doctor if the child has any changes in weight. Erythromycin doses are based on weight in children.
Do not crush, chew, or break a delayed-release capsule or tablet. Swallow it whole.
Measure liquid medicine with the dosing syringe provided, or with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.
Use this medicine for the full prescribed length of time. Your symptoms may improve before the infection is completely cleared. Skipping doses may also increase your risk of further infection that is resistant to antibiotics. Erythromycin will not treat a viral infection such as the common cold or flu.
This medicine can cause unusual results with certain lab tests of the urine. Tell any doctor who treats you that you are using erythromycin.
Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.
You may need to store liquid medicine in a refrigerator. Carefully follow the storage directions on your medicine label. Liquid medicine expires after a short period of time. Throw away any unused liquid as directed.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
What should I avoid while taking erythromycin?
Antibiotic medicines can cause diarrhea, which may be a sign of a new infection. If you have diarrhea that is watery or bloody, stop taking erythromycin and call your doctor. Do not use anti-diarrhea medicine unless your doctor tells you to.
Erythromycin side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
diarrhea that is watery or bloody;
hearing problems (rare);
severe skin reaction--fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling.
Common side effects may include:
mild diarrhea; or
nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, loss of appetite.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect erythromycin?
Many drugs can interact with erythromycin. Not all possible interactions are listed here. Tell your doctor about all your medications and any you start or stop using during treatment with erythromycin, especially:
antiviral medicine (drugs to treat hepatitis, or HIV/AIDS);
any other antibiotic medicines;
drugs that lower cholesterol or triglycerides;
drugs to treat or prevent malaria;
drugs to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension;
heart or blood pressure medication;
medicine to prevent organ transplant rejection; or
medicine to treat depression or mental illness.
This list is not complete and many other drugs can interact with erythromycin. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Give a list of all your medicines to any healthcare provider who treats you.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
Copyright 1996-2018 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 12.01.
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- Drug class: macrolides