What is azithromycin?

Azithromycin is in a group of drugs called macrolide antibiotics. Azithromycin fights bacteria in the body.

Azithromycin is used to treat many different types of infections caused by bacteria, such as respiratory infections, skin infections, ear infections, and sexually transmitted diseases.

Azithromycin may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Precautions

Do not use this medication if you have ever had an allergic reaction to azithromycin or similar drugs such as erythromycin (E-Mycin, Ery-Tab, E.E.S.), clarithromycin (Biaxin), telithromycin (Ketek), or troleandomycin (Tao).

If you have any of these other conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely use this medication:

  • liver disease;
  • kidney disease;
  • a heart rhythm disorder; or
  • a history of Long QT syndrome.

FDA pregnancy category B. This medication is not expected to be harmful to an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.

It is not known whether azithromycin passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not take this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Do not take antacids that contain aluminum or magnesium within 2 hours before or after you take azithromycin. This includes Rolaids, Maalox, Mylanta, Milk of Magnesia, Pepcid Complete, and others. These antacids can make azithromycin less effective when taken at the same time.

Antibiotic medicines can cause diarrhea, which may be a sign of a new infection. If you have diarrhea that is watery or has blood in it, call your doctor. Do not use any medicine to stop the diarrhea unless your doctor has told you to.

Avoid exposure to sunlight or artificial UV rays (sunlamps or tanning beds). Azithromycin can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight and sunburn may result. Use a sunscreen (minimum SPF 15) and wear protective clothing if you must be out in the sun.

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Instructions

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine.

Overdose symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort.

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the medicine at the next regularly scheduled time. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

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Side Effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • diarrhea that is watery or bloody;
  • chest pain, uneven heartbeats;
  • nausea, stomach pain, low fever, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or
  • fever, sore throat, and headache with a severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • mild nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, or stomach pain;
  • dizziness, tired feeling, or headache;
  • nervous feeling, sleep problems (insomnia);
  • vaginal itching or discharge;
  • mild itching or skin rash;
  • ringing in your ears, problems with hearing; or
  • decreased sense of taste or smell.

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.

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Interactions

Many drugs can interact with azithromycin. Below is just a partial list. Tell your doctor if you are using:

  • digoxin (Lanoxin, Lanoxicaps);
  • carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Tegretol);
  • cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune);
  • phenytoin (Dilantin);
  • pimozide (Orap);
  • theophylline (Theo-Dur, Theolair, Theochron);
  • warfarin (Coumadin);
  • another antibiotic, especially clarithromycin (Biaxin) or erythromycin (E-Mycin, E.E.S, Ery-Tab);
  • a calcium channel blocker such as diltiazem (Cartia XT, Diltiazem, Tiazac), felodipine (Plendil), nicardipine (Cardene), nifedipine (Procardia, Adalat), nimodipine (Nimotop), verapamil (Calan, Covera-HS);
  • cholesterol-lowering medicines such as lovastatin (Mevacor), atorvastatin (Lipitor), or simvastatin (Zocor);
  • ergot medicine such as methysergide (Sansert), ergotamine (Ergostat, Medihaler, Cafergot, Ercaf, Wigraine), dihydroergotamine mesylate (D.H.E., Migranal Nasal Spray);
  • HIV medicines such as indinavir (Crixivan), nelfinavir (Viracept), ritonavir (Norvir), saquinavir (Invirase); or

There are many other medicines that can interact with azithromycin. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor. Keep a list with you of all the medicines you use and show this list to any doctor or other healthcare provider who treats you.

Other Names

Azithromycin 3 Day Dose Pack, Azithromycin 5 Day Dose Pack, Z-Pak, Zithromax, Zithromax IV, Zithromax TRI-PAK, Zithromax Z-Pak, Zmax, and azithromycin

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Disclaimer

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2004 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version 2.05. Revision date 8/23/04

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