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Azithromycin Side Effects

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Oct 7, 2022.

Summary

Commonly reported side effects of azithromycin include: diarrhea, loose stools, and nausea. Other side effects include: abdominal pain, and vomiting. Continue reading for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

Applies to azithromycin: intravenous powder for solution.

Serious side effects of Azithromycin

Along with its needed effects, azithromycin 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 or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking azithromycin:

More common

  • Pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site

Less common

  • Difficult or labored breathing
  • loose stools
  • tightness in the chest

Rare

  • Abdominal or stomach cramps or pain (severe)
  • abdominal or stomach tenderness
  • diarrhea (watery and severe, which may be bloody)
  • fever
  • joint pain
  • skin rash
  • swelling of the face, mouth, neck, hands, and feet

Incidence not known

  • Agitation
  • black, tarry stools
  • bleeding gums
  • blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
  • bloating
  • blood in the urine or stools
  • bloody or cloudy urine
  • blurred vision
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • chills
  • coma
  • confusion
  • constipation
  • convulsions
  • cough
  • darkened urine
  • decreased urine output
  • depression
  • difficulty with swallowing
  • dizziness
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
  • fainting
  • fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat or pulse
  • fever with or without chills
  • general feeling of discomfort or illness
  • greatly decreased frequency of urination or amount of urine
  • headache
  • hives or itching
  • hostility
  • increased thirst
  • indigestion
  • irregular heartbeat recurrent
  • irregular or slow heart rate
  • large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs
  • lethargy
  • light-colored stools
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle pain
  • muscle twitching
  • nausea or vomiting
  • pain
  • pains in the stomach, side, or abdomen, possibly radiating to the back
  • pinpoint red spots on the skin
  • puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • rapid weight gain
  • red skin lesions, often with a purple center
  • red, irritated eyes
  • sore throat
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots in the mouth or on the lips
  • stupor
  • sweating
  • swelling of the hands, ankles, feet, or lower legs
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • yellow eyes or skin

Other side effects of Azithromycin

Some side effects of azithromycin may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects.

Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

Less common

  • Diarrhea (mild)
  • nausea
  • stomach pain or discomfort (mild)
  • weight loss

Less common or rare

  • Acid or sour stomach
  • belching
  • burning feeling in the chest or stomach
  • cracked lips
  • excess air or gas in the stomach or intestines
  • full feeling
  • heartburn
  • passing gas
  • sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
  • sore mouth or tongue
  • stomach discomfort, upset, or pain
  • white patches in the mouth, tongue, or throat

Incidence not known

  • Attack, assault, or force
  • bad, unusual, or unpleasant (after) taste
  • burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
  • change in taste
  • continuing ringing or buzzing or other unexplained noise in the ears
  • difficulty with moving
  • discoloration of the tongue
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • feeling of constant movement of self or surroundings
  • hearing loss
  • itching of the vagina or genital area
  • lack or loss of strength
  • loss of sense of smell
  • muscle pain or stiffness
  • pain during sexual intercourse
  • sensation of spinning
  • thick, white vaginal discharge with no odor or with a mild odor
  • trouble sitting still

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to azithromycin: intravenous powder for injection, oral capsule, oral powder for reconstitution, oral powder for reconstitution extended release, oral tablet.

General

The most commonly reported side effects were diarrhea/loose stools, nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting.[Ref]

Cardiovascular

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Palpitations, chest pain

Postmarketing reports: Torsades de pointes, arrhythmia (including ventricular tachycardia), ECG QT prolonged, hypotension, cardiovascular death

Dermatologic

Common (1% to 10%): Rash, pruritus

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Angioedema, photosensitivity reaction, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, urticaria, dermatitis, dry skin, hyperhidrosis/sweating

Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis, drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS)

Frequency not reported: Eczema, fungal dermatitis, vesiculobullous rash

Postmarketing reports: Toxic epidermal necrolysis, erythema multiforme, serious skin reactions

Gastrointestinal

Very common (10% or more): Diarrhea (up to 52.8%), nausea (up to 32.6%), abdominal pain (up to 32.2%), loose stools (up to 19.1%), vomiting (up to 13%), flatulence (up to 10.7%), abdominal discomfort

Common (1% to 10%): Dyspepsia, stomatitis

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Gastritis, gastroenteritis, oral candidiasis/moniliasis, constipation, dysphagia, abdominal distension, dry mouth, eructation, mouth ulceration, salivary hypersecretion

Frequency not reported: Clostridioides difficile-associated diarrhea, melena, infantile hypertrophic pyloric stenosis, mucositis, enteritis

Postmarketing reports: Pyloric stenosis, pseudomembranous colitis, pancreatitis, tongue discoloration

Genitourinary

Common (1% to 10%): Vaginitis/vaginal infection

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Dysuria, metrorrhagia, testicular disorder

Hematologic

Very common (10% or more): Decreased neutrophils (up to 29%)

Common (1% to 10%): Decreased lymphocyte count, decreased hematocrit, decreased hemoglobin, increased eosinophil count, increased platelet count, increased lymphocytes, increased basophils, increased monocytes, increased neutrophils

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Leukopenia, neutropenia, eosinophilia

Frequency not reported: Decreased white cell count, decreased platelet count, anemia

Postmarketing reports: Thrombocytopenia, hemolytic anemia

Hepatic

Hepatic failure has rarely resulted in death.

Common (1% to 10%): Increased AST, increased ALT, increased GGT, increased blood bilirubin

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Hepatitis, abnormal liver function tests

Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Abnormal hepatic function, cholestatic jaundice

Frequency not reported: Liver enzyme abnormalities, increased transaminase levels, jaundice

Postmarketing reports: Hepatic failure, fulminant hepatitis, hepatic necrosis

Hypersensitivity

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Hypersensitivity

Postmarketing reports: Anaphylactic reaction/anaphylaxis (e.g., anaphylactic shock), allergic reactions

Severe (rarely fatal) anaphylactic reaction has been reported.

Local

Common (1% to 10%): IV site pain, injection site inflammation (with IV administration), IV site disorders (infection/inflammation/edema/pain reactions), local inflammation, infusion site reaction

Frequency not reported: Local inflammation at infusion site

Metabolic

Common (1% to 10%): Decreased blood bicarbonate, anorexia, decreased blood glucose, increased blood glucose

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Increased bicarbonate

Postmarketing reports: Dehydration

Musculoskeletal

Common (1% to 10%): Arthralgia, increased creatine phosphokinase

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Osteoarthritis, myalgia, back pain, neck pain

Nervous system

Common (1% to 10%): Headache, dizziness, paresthesia, dysgeusia

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Somnolence, hypesthesia, tinnitus, vertigo

Frequency not reported: Hyperkinesia

Postmarketing reports: Syncope, convulsion, psychomotor hyperactivity, anosmia, ageusia, parosmia, myasthenia gravis, hyperactivity

Ocular

Common (1% to 10%): Visual impairment, abnormal vision

Frequency not reported: Conjunctivitis, blurred vision

Other

Very common (10% or more): Increased blood alkaline phosphatase (up to 20%)

Common (1% to 10%): Deafness, fatigue, increased potassium, increased lactate dehydrogenase, reversible hearing impairment

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Candidiasis/moniliasis, ear disorder, asthenia, malaise, chest pain, edema, hearing impaired, abnormal blood potassium, fungal infection, bacterial infection, hot flush, face edema, pyrexia/fever, pain, peripheral edema, increased chloride, abnormal sodium, postprocedural complications

Frequency not reported: Increased phosphate, decreased sodium, decreased potassium

Postmarketing reports: Hearing disturbances (including hearing loss, deafness, tinnitus)

Psychiatric

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Nervousness, insomnia

Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Agitation, depersonalization

Frequency not reported: Delirium, hallucination

Postmarketing reports: Aggression/aggressive reaction, anxiety

Renal

Common (1% to 10%): Increased blood urea/BUN, increased blood creatinine

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Renal pain

Frequency not reported: Nephritis, renal function abnormality

Postmarketing reports: Acute renal failure, interstitial nephritis

Respiratory

Common (1% to 10%): Dyspnea

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Pneumonia, pharyngitis, rhinitis, respiratory disorder, epistaxis

Frequency not reported: Bronchospasm, cough, pleural effusion

Frequently asked questions

References

1. "Product Information. Zithromax IV (azithromycin)." Pfizer U.S. Pharmaceuticals Group (2022):

2. "Product Information. Zithromax (azithromycin)." Pfizer U.S. Pharmaceuticals Group (2021):

3. "Product Information. Zithromax (aziTHROMYCIN)." Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd (2022):

4. "Product Information. Zithromax IV (aziTHROMYCIN)." Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd (2019):

5. "Product Information. AziTHROMYCIN (Mylan) (aziTHROMYCIN)." Alphapharm Pty Ltd (2022):

6. "Product Information. Zedbac (azithromycin)." Aspire Pharma Ltd (2022):

7. "Product Information. Zithromax (azithromycin)." Pfizer Ltd (2022):

8. "Product Information. Azithromycin (azithromycin)." Sandoz Ltd (2022):

9. "Product Information. Azithromycin (azithromycin)." Accord Healthcare Ltd (2022):

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.