Azithromycin is the generic name of a prescription drug, available as Zithromax, Zmax and Z-Pak.
The drug is an antibiotic used to treat various bacterial infections, such as cat scratch disease, ear infections, skin infections or surrounding tissue, as well as infections of the throat or tonsils.
Azithromycin is also used to treat lung and respiratory infections such as bronchitis, sinusitis, community, pneumonia, certain cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and whooping cough (whooping cough).
Doctors can also prescribe Azithromycin for genital infections and sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea, urethral or cervical infections, genital ulcers and severe pelvic inflammatory disease.
Azithromycin belongs to the group of drugs known as macrolide antibiotics. They work by preventing bacteria from creating their own proteins.
As with other antibiotics, to prevent the spread of drug-resistant infections, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strongly recommends that doctors prescribe the drug only when there is evidence or strong suspicion that the infection is caused by bacteria against which Azithromycin is effective .
The FDA first approved Azithromycin under the trade name Zithromax in 1991. Pfizer Pharmaceuticals produces this drug.
Azithromycin can cause abnormal changes in cardiac activity, which can lead to a deadly irregular heart rhythm, according to a special FDA warning in 2012.
If you have a slow or irregular heartbeat or if you take drugs to treat these conditions, you should talk with your doctor about this before taking Azithromycin.
Your doctor should also make sure that you have a normal level of potassium and magnesium in your blood before prescribing Azithromycin.
In addition, you should not take Azithromycin if you have:
- Allergies to Azithromycin or any of its inactive ingredients
- The form of jaundice, known as cholestatic jaundice, in which bile returns to the liver and causes yellowing of the skin, eyes, or nails
- There is a reception of Pimozide (Orap)
Before taking Azithromycin, talk with your doctor if you have:
- Incorrect or slow heartbeat
- Problems with the liver, including hepatitis
- Very serious kidney problems
- Myasthenia gravis
Before taking Azithromycin for gonorrhea or syphilis, you should be tested to find out whether the bacteria causing the infection will react to Azithromycin.
People who take Azithromycin for extended periods of time are more likely to develop very serious bacterial or fungal infections, which can be much more difficult to treat.
Pregnancy and Azithromycin
Azithromycin is usually safe during pregnancy.
Regardless, you should tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant before taking this medication.
Talk with your doctor if you are feeding or plan to breast-feed before taking Azithromycin.
Side effects of Azithromycin
Common side effects
Many people experience fewer side effects when taking Azithromycin compared to other antibiotics in the class of macrolides, such as Erythromycin (erythrocin).
Nevertheless, you can still face side effects, especially if your doctor has prescribed a high dose of Azithromycin, which should be taken only once. Tell your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Liquid chair
- Discomfort in the stomach
Some people may also experience seizures or get vaginal infections.
Serious side effects
Immediately call for emergency medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Thoracic pain
- Swelling of the legs or ankles
- Inflammation of the large intestine (symptoms may include abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue)
- The appearance of fluid between the lungs and chest wall (symptoms may include chest pain or heaviness, difficulty breathing)
- Low amounts of white blood cells (this is usually found in blood tests, but if you have symptoms, they can include weakness, fatigue, dyspnea, or infections that do not disappear)
It is always important to share with your doctor and pharmacist information about all the medicines that you take.
This includes not only all prescription drugs, but also products that may not seem medicines, such as vitamins and other nutritional supplements (nutritional cocktails, protein powders, etc.) and herbs along with any drugs .
You should not take Azithromycin if you are taking
- Pimozide (Orap)
- BCG live (Theracrys)
- Dronedarone (Multaq)
Talk with your doctor about the possibility of prescribing another antibiotic instead of Azithromycin if you are taking any of the following drugs:
- Blood solvents such as Enoxaparin (Lovenox), Fondaparinux (Arixta), Heparin, Warfarin (Coumadin or Jantoven)
- Drugs used to prevent blood clots, for example, during or after surgery or in life-threatening situations: Antithrombin III (Thrombin), Bivalirudin (Angiomax), Dalteparin (Fragmin)
- Amiodarone (Cordarone, Pacerone or Nextarone)
- Digoxin (lanoxin)
- Live typhoid vaccine (Vivotif)
Azithromycin and alcohol
Alcohol can increase or worsen certain side effects caused by Azithromycin, such as dizziness and upset stomach.
Azithromycin and grapefruit juice
Grapefruit and Azithromycin are simultaneously destroyed by the liver, so interactions are possible, although they are considered harmless.
To be safe, avoid all grapefruit products when taking this medication.
Dosage of Azithromycin
Azithromycin is taken as a tablet or liquid. It is also given in the form of intravenous (IV) in hospitals. Packages of powder are mixed with water to create a liquid solution.
Azithromycin can be taken with or without food.
Dosage and duration of treatment with Azithromycin vary depending on the type of infection:
- Skin and skin infections: a single dose of 500 milligrams (mg), then 250 mg per day for four days
- Infection of the throat and tonsils: a single dose of 500 mg; then 250 mg per day for four days
- Acquired pneumonia (CAP): a single dose of 500 mg, followed by 250 mg per day for four days
- Genital ulcer: 1 gram (g), once
- Sinus infections caused by bacteria: 500 mg per day for three days or 2 g in a single dose
Overdosing with Azithromycin
If you suspect an overdose, you should immediately contact a poison control center or an emergency room.
You can contact the Toxicology Center
The missed dose of Azithromycin
If you miss a dose of Azithromycin, try to take it as soon as you remember if it will not be time for the next dose.
Then, skip the missed dose and take the next dose in regular time.
Do not take two doses of the medication at the same time.