What is azithromycin?
Azithromycin is an antibiotic that fights bacteria.
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 purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Important information about azithromycin
You should not use this medication if you have ever had jaundice or liver problems caused by taking azithromycin.
Before taking azithromycin
You should not use azithromycin if you have ever had jaundice or liver problems caused by taking this medicine. You should not use azithromycin if you are allergic to it or to similar drugs such as clarithromycin, erythromycin, or telithromycin.
To make sure azithromycin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
- liver disease;
- kidney disease;
- myasthenia gravis;
- 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. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
Do not give this medicine to a child younger than 6 months old.
Older adults may be more likely to have side effects on heart rhythm, including a life-threatening fast heart rate.
How should I take azithromycin?
Take azithromycin exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. The dose and length of treatment with azithromycin may not be the same for every type of infection.
You may take most forms of azithromycin with or without food.
Take Zmax extended release liquid (oral suspension) on an empty stomach, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal.
To use the oral suspension single dose packet: Open the packet and pour the medicine into 2 ounces of water. Stir this mixture and drink all of it right away. Do not save for later use. To make sure you get the entire dose, add a little more water to the same glass, swirl gently and drink right away.
Throw away any mixed Zmax oral suspension that has not been used within 12 hours.
Shake the oral suspension (liquid) well just before you measure a dose. Measure the liquid 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 medication 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. Azithromycin will not treat a viral infection such as the common cold or flu.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Throw away any unused liquid medicine after 10 days.
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 azithromycin?
Do not take antacids that contain aluminum or magnesium within 2 hours before or after you take azithromycin. This includes Acid Gone, Aldroxicon, Alternagel, Di-Gel, Gaviscon, Gelusil, Genaton, Maalox, Maldroxal, Milk of Magnesia, Mintox, Mylagen, Mylanta, Pepcid Complete, Rolaids, Rulox, 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 bloody, stop taking this medicine and call your doctor. Do not use anti-diarrhea medicine unless your doctor tells you to.
Avoid exposure to sunlight or tanning beds. Azithromycin can make you sunburn more easily. Wear protective clothing and use sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) when you are outdoors.
Azithromycin side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to azithromycin: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
- diarrhea that is watery or bloody;
- headache with chest pain and severe dizziness, fainting, fast or pounding heartbeats;
- nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or
- 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 azithromycin side effects may include:
- mild diarrhea;
- mild stomach pain or upset;
- dizziness; or
- vaginal itching or discharge.
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.
What other drugs will affect azithromycin?
Many drugs can interact with azithromycin. Not all possible interactions are listed here. Tell your doctor about all your medications and any you start or stop using during treatment with azithromycin, especially:
- another antibiotic--clarithromycin, erythromycin, moxifloxacin, pentamidine;
- a blood thinner (warfarin, Coumadin);
- cancer medicine--arsenic trioxide, vandetanib;
- an antidepressant--citalopram, escitalopram;
- anti-malaria medication--chloroquine, halofantrine;
- heart rhythm medicine--amiodarone, disopyramide, dofetilide, flecainide, ibutilide, procainamide, quinidine, sotalol; or
- medicine to treat a psychiatric disorder--chlorpromazine, haloperidol, mesoridazine, pimozide, thioridazine.
This list is not complete and many other drugs can interact with azithromycin. 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.