Azithromycin (By mouth)


Azithromycin (ay-zith-roe-MYE-sin)
Treats infections caused by certain bacteria. This medicine is a macrolide antibiotic.

Brand Name(s)

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

Zithromax, Zmax, Zithromax Z-Pak, Zithromax Tri-Pak, AvPak Azithromycin, Zithromax Z Pack

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to azithromycin, clarithromycin (Biaxin®), erythromycin (Ery-tab®), or telithromycin (Ketek®).

How to Use This Medicine

Capsule, Liquid, Packet, Powder, Tablet
  • Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to use and how often. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • It is best to take this medicine on an empty stomach. If you are using the capsules, take your dose at least 1 hour before you eat, or at least 2 hours after you eat. Do not take the capsules with food.
  • If you are using the tablets, you can take your dose with or without food. Taking the tablets with food may help you have fewer side effects.
  • To use the powder, open one packet and pour all of the medicine from the packet into a glass with about 2 ounces (¼ cup) of water. Mix well and drink the medicine right away. Pour another 2 ounces (¼ cup) of water into the same glass, and drink that too so you get all of the medicine. You can take the powder with or without food.
  • Measure the oral liquid medicine with a marked measuring spoon, oral syringe, or medicine cup. Shake the bottle well before measuring the medicine. Rinse the spoon or oral syringe with water when you are finished.
  • Keep using this medicine for the full treatment time, even if you feel better after the first few doses. Your infection may not clear up if you stop using the medicine too soon.
If a dose is missed:
  • If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to use the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine

  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Use the oral liquid within 10 days after you fill the prescription. Throw away any medicine that is left over when you are finished with your treatment time.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any leftover medicine after you have finished your treatment. You will also need to throw away old medicine after the expiration date has passed.
  • Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are also using atorvastatin (Lipitor®), cetirizine (Zyrtec®), cyclosporine (Neoral®, Sandimmune®), digoxin (Digitek®, Lanoxin®), digitalis, fluconazole (Diflucan®), midazolam (Versed®), rifabutin (Mycobutin®), sildenafil (Viagra®), theophylline, or triazolam (Halcion®). Tell your doctor if you are also using a blood thinner (such as warfarin, Coumadin®), a sulfa drug (such as Bactrim® or Septra®), or any ergot medicines (such as dihydroergotamine, ergotamine, Cafergot®, Ergomar®, or Migranal®). Make sure your doctor knows if you are also using a medicine for HIV or AIDS (such as didanosine, efavirenz, indinavir, nelfinavir, zidovudine, Retrovir®, Videx®, or Viracept®), or a medicine for seizures (such as carbamazepine, phenytoin, Carbartrol®, Dilantin®, or Tegretol®).
  • Some medicines may keep azithromycin from working properly. Do not take aluminum or magnesium-containing antacids at the same time with azithromycin.

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have kidney disease, liver disease, cystic fibrosis, heart rhythm problems (such as QT prolongation), myasthenia gravis, or problems with your immune system. Tell your doctor if you have had problems with your spleen.
  • This medicine may cause serious allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention. Call your doctor right away if you or your child have a rash; itching; hives; hoarseness; shortness of breath; trouble breathing; trouble swallowing; or any swelling of your hands, face, or mouth after you take this medicine.
  • If you have severe diarrhea, ask your doctor before taking any medicine to stop the diarrhea.
  • Your doctor will need to check your blood or urine at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.
  • Use this medicine only to treat the infection your doctor has prescribed it for. Do not use this medicine for any infection or condition that has not been checked by a doctor. This medicine will not treat the flu or the common cold.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they get worse, call your doctor.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:
  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing.
  • Blistering, peeling, or red skin rash.
  • Change in how much or how often you urinate.
  • Chest pain, fast or pounding heartbeat.
  • Dark-colored urine, or pale or black stools.
  • Feeling anxious or agitated.
  • Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, and body aches.
  • Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, or pain in your upper stomach.
  • Severe diarrhea that may contain blood.
  • Vomiting within 1 hour after taking the medicine.
  • Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.
If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:
  • Feeling unusually tired, sleepy, or weak.
  • Funny or bad taste in your mouth.
  • Headache or joint pain.
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or feeling like the room is spinning.
  • Loss of feeling (numbness) in parts of your body.
  • Mild skin rash or itching.
  • Mild stomach pain, constipation, or diarrhea.
  • Ringing sound in your ears.
  • Sores or white patches on your lips, mouth, or throat.
  • Vaginal itching or discharge.

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088
Review Date: 2011-02-04 Reviewed By: Keywords: ,
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