Azithromycin is used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections. It is a
macrolide-type antibiotic. Azithromycin helps stop the growth of the bacteria that cause infection. It gets into the infected tissue where it is released slowly over time. The medicine fights the infection for several days after the last dose is taken.
- Tablets: 250, 500, and 600 mg.
- Suspension: 100 mg/5 ml (teaspoon), 200 mg/5 ml (teaspoon).
- Powder for oral suspension: 1 g.
- Z-PAK (Blister pack containing six 250 mg tablets);
- TRI-PAK (Blister pack containing three 500 mg tablet
Dosage: Azithromycin can be taken with or without food, but food reduces stomach upset. The adult azithromycin dose is 500-2000 mg in multiple or single doses. For most infections, azithromycin is taken once daily for a relatively short course of treatment (usually five days). The first dose is often a “double dose,” twice as much as the remainder of the doses given. We tend to use the Z-Pak because of its convenience.
Azithromycin should not be taken at the same time as aluminum- or magnesium- based antacids, such as Mylanta or Maalox because antacids will bind the azithromycin and prevent it from being absorbed from the intestine.
How we use it: Typically, we use azithromycin to treat bacterial infections of the eyelid.
Pregnancy: FDA pregnancy category B. Azithromycin ophthalmic is not expected to harm an unborn baby.
Children: Zithromax is not usually considered to be a first line antibiotic for children. Penicillin should usually be considered first and zithromax is used only if a child is allergic to penicillin. Although approved for use in children, the safety and effectiveness in the treatment of pediatric patients under 6 months of age have not been established for zithromax.
Side Effects: Azithromycin is generally well tolerated. The most common side effects are diarrhea or loose stools, nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting which may occur in fewer than one in twenty persons who receive azithromycin. Antibiotics can alter the normal bacteria in the colon and encourage overgrowth of some bacteria which causes inflammation of the colon (pseudomembranous colitis). Patients who develop signs of pseudomembranous colitis after starting azithromycin (diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, and possibly shock) should contact their physician immediately.
For a more complete list of side effects, click here.