Azithromycin is used to prevent and treat a very serious type of infection (mycobacteria or MAC). It is a macrolide-type antibiotic. It works by stopping the growth of bacteria.
To prevent infection, take this drug as directed by your doctor, usually once a week on the same day each week. Continue to take this medication until your doctor tells you to stop.
To treat infection, take this drug as directed by your doctor, usually once daily at the same time each day. Continue to take this medication until your doctor tells you to stop. Stopping the medication too early on your own may allow bacteria to continue to grow, which may result in a return of the infection. Tell your doctor if your condition persists or worsens.
Antibiotics work best when the amount of medicine in your body is kept at a constant level. Therefore, take this drug at evenly spaced intervals.
Antacids containing aluminum or magnesium may decrease the absorption of azithromycin if taken at the same time. If you take an antacid that contains aluminum or magnesium, wait at least 2 hours before or after taking azithromycin.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: hearing changes (such as decreased hearing, deafness), eye problems (such as drooping eyelids, blurred vision), difficulty speaking/swallowing, muscle weakness, signs of liver problems (such as unusual tiredness, persistent nausea/vomiting, severe stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine).
This medication may rarely cause a severe intestinal condition (Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea) due to a resistant bacteria. This condition may occur during treatment or weeks to months after treatment has stopped. Do not use anti-diarrhea products or narcotic pain medications if you have any of the following symptoms because these products may make them worse. Tell your doctor right away if you develop: persistent diarrhea, abdominal or stomach pain/cramping, blood/mucus in your stool.
Use of this medication for prolonged or repeated periods may result in oral thrush or a new yeast infection. Contact your doctor if you notice white patches in your mouth, a change in vaginal discharge, or other new symptoms.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: fever that doesn't go away, new or worsening lymph node swelling, rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
An allergic reaction to this medication may return even if you stop the drug. If you have an allergic reaction, continue to watch for any of the above symptoms for several days after your last dose.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US -
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Before taking azithromycin, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to other antibiotics (such as erythromycin, clarithromycin, telithromycin); or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Azithromycin may cause a condition that affects the heart rhythm (QT prolongation). QT prolongation can rarely cause serious (rarely fatal) fast/irregular heartbeat and other symptoms (such as severe dizziness, fainting) that need medical attention right away.
The risk of QT prolongation may be increased if you have certain medical conditions or are taking other drugs that may cause QT prolongation. Before using azithromycin, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the drugs you take and if you have any of the following conditions: certain heart problems (heart failure, slow heartbeat, QT prolongation in the EKG), family history of certain heart problems (QT prolongation in the EKG, sudden cardiac death).
Low levels of potassium or magnesium in the blood may also increase your risk of QT prolongation. This risk may increase if you use certain drugs (such as diuretics/"water pills") or if you have conditions such as severe sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting. Talk to your doctor about using azithromycin safely.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially QT prolongation (see above).
During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
This drug passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
See also How to Use section.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
Some products that may interact with this drug include: live bacterial vaccines.
Although most antibiotics are unlikely to affect hormonal birth control such as pills, patch, or ring, a few antibiotics (such as rifampin, rifabutin) can decrease their effectiveness. This could result in pregnancy. If you use hormonal birth control, ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
Many drugs besides azithromycin may affect the heart rhythm (QT prolongation), including amiodarone, disopyramide, dofetilide, dronedarone, ibutilide, pimozide, procainamide, quinidine, sotalol, among others.
If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
Do not share this medication with others.
This medication has been prescribed for your current condition only. Do not use it later for another infection unless your doctor directs you to do so. A different medication may be necessary in that case.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
Store at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets.
Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.
Information last revised July 2016. Copyright(c) 2016 First Databank, Inc.
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