Erythromycin is used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections. It may also be used to prevent certain bacterial infections. Erythromycin is known as a macrolide antibiotic. It works by stopping the growth of bacteria.
This antibiotic treats or prevents only bacterial infections. It will not work for viral infections (such as common cold, flu). Unnecessary use or misuse of any antibiotic can lead to its decreased effectiveness.
OTHER USES: This section contains uses of this drug that are not listed in the approved professional labeling for the drug but that may be prescribed by your health care professional. Use this drug for a condition that is listed in this section only if it has been so prescribed by your health care professional.
Shake the bottle well before each dose. Carefully measure the dose using a special measuring device/spoon. Do not use a household spoon because you may not get the correct dose.
The dosage and length of treatment are based on your medical condition and response to treatment. In children, the dosage is also based on age and weight.
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. To help you remember, take it at the same times each day.
If you are using this medication to treat an infection, continue to take this medication until the full prescribed amount is finished, even if symptoms disappear after a few days. Stopping the medication too early may result in a return of the infection. Tell your doctor if your condition persists or worsens.
If you are taking this medication to prevent certain bacterial infections, take it exactly as directed by your doctor. Do not stop taking the medication without your doctor's approval.
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain/cramping, and loss of appetite may occur. Taking this medication with food may lessen these symptoms. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
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 you have any serious side effects, including: signs of liver disease (such as persistent nausea/vomiting, yellowing eyes or skin, dark urine, severe stomach/abdominal pain), unusual tiredness, muscle weakness, slurred speech, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, hearing loss.
This medication may rarely cause a severe intestinal condition (Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea) due to a type of resistant bacteria. This condition may occur during treatment or weeks to months after treatment has stopped. Tell your doctor right away if you develop: persistent diarrhea, abdominal or stomach pain/cramping, blood/mucus in your stool.
Do not use anti-diarrhea products or narcotic pain medications if you have any of these symptoms because these products may make them worse.
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: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
In the US -
Before taking erythromycin, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to other macrolide antibiotics (such as azithromycin, clarithromycin); 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.
Erythromycin may cause a condition that affects the heart rhythm (QT prolongation). QT prolongation can infrequently result in 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 erythromycin, 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 erythromycin safely.
Erythromycin may cause live bacterial vaccines (such as typhoid vaccine) not to work as well. Therefore, do not have any immunizations/vaccinations while using this medication without the consent of your doctor.
Some erythromycin products may contain sodium. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information if you are on a salt-restricted diet or if you have a condition such as congestive heart failure that could be worsened by an increase in salt intake.
Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially hearing loss and QT prolongation (see above).
Infants may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially an uncommon stomach problem called IHPS (infantile hypertrophic pyloric stenosis). Tell your child's doctor right away if your child has persistent vomiting or increased irritability with feeding.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant before using this medication.
This medication passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Some products that may interact with this drug include: clindamycin, digoxin.
Many drugs besides erythromycin may affect the heart rhythm (QT prolongation), including amiodarone, dofetilide, cisapride, pimozide, procainamide, propafenone, quinidine, sotalol, among others.
Other medications can affect the removal of erythromycin from your body, which may affect how erythromycin works. Examples include azole antifungals (such as itraconazole, ketoconazole), certain calcium channel blockers (such as diltiazem, verapamil), certain anti-seizure medications (such as carbamazepine, phenytoin), quinupristin-dalfopristin, among others.
Erythromycin can slow down the removal of other drugs from your body, which may affect how they work. Examples of affected drugs include bromocriptine, colchicine, certain benzodiazepines (such as midazolam, triazolam), eletriptan, ergot alkaloids (such as ergotamine, dihydroergotamine), certain drugs to treat erectile dysfunction-ED or pulmonary hypertension (such as sildenafil, tadalafil), certain "statin" drugs (such as lovastatin, simvastatin), vinblastine, among others.
Although most antibiotics probably do not affect hormonal birth control such as pills, patch, or ring, some antibiotics may decrease their effectiveness. This could cause pregnancy. Examples include rifamycins such as rifampin or rifabutin. Be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist if you should use additional reliable birth control methods while using this antibiotic.
This medication may interfere with certain laboratory tests (urine tests), possibly causing false test results. Make sure laboratory personnel and all your doctors know you use this drug.
If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. 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.
Different brands of this medication have different storage needs. Check the product package for instructions on how to store your brand, or ask your pharmacist. Do not freeze or 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 April 2013. Copyright(c) 2013 First Databank, Inc.
With WebMD's Medicine Cabinet, you can check interactions with drugs.Go to medicine cabinet