Azithromycin belongs to a group of Macrolide Antibiotics useful in the treatment of bacterial infections and typhoid fever. Get to know how Azithromycin works, its side effects, precautions, and contraindications where Azithromycin is not suggested.
Mechanism of action
Azithromycin prevents bacteria from growing by interfering with their protein synthesis (stops the bacteria from multiplying). It binds to the 50S subunit of the bacterial ribosome, thus inhibiting translation of mRNA (kills the bacteria and treats the infection).
It is used in bacterial infections of ear, nose, throat, tonsils, sinus, skin, windpipe, soft tissues, and lungs (pneumonia). This medicine is not recommended for use in case of common cold, flu or viral infections since it is active against infections caused by bacteria only.
Lung infection (pneumonia)
Azithromycin is used to treat lung infections and community-acquired Pneumonia which is the most common type of Pneumonia. The most common symptoms include difficulty in breathing, cough, and fever with chills.
Otitis Media (Ear Infection)
Azithromycin is used in the treatment of Otitis Media which is an ear infection. The most common symptoms include ear pain, ringing ear, loss of balance and headache.
Azithromycin is used to treat sore throat or Pharyngitis (an inflammation of the throat caused by bacteria or smoking). The most common symptoms include cough, difficulty in swallowing, running nose, and fever with chills.
Azithromycin is used in the treatment of skin and soft tissue infections caused by bacteria. Fever with chills, redness around hair follicles, yellowish rash and muscle pain are the most common symptoms.
Eye infection (Bacterial conjunctivitis)
Azithromycin eye ointments and eye drops are used to treat bacterial conjunctivitis (eye infection) caused by S. aureus, S. pneumoniae and H. influenzae.
Azithromycin (Zithromax) tablets are also prescribed to treat respiratory infections and other lung infections, such as sinusitis, pneumonia, bronchitis, some cases of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and pertussis (whooping cough). Azithromycin may also prescribed by the doctors to treat STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) and genital infections, such as gonorrhea, genital ulcers, infections of the urethra or cervix, and severe pelvic inflammatory disease.
Side effects of Azithromycin
In addition to its intended benefits, Azithromycin may cause some unwanted effects too. In such cases, you must consult your doctor immediately. This is not an exhaustive list of side effects.
- Abdominal pain
- Dry or scaly skin
- Difficult or painful urination
- Acid or sour stomach
- Excessive air or gas in stomach
- Aggression or anger
Note: Inform your doctor if you experience any adverse reaction to the Azithromycin.
Contraindications for Azithromycin
Do not use Azithromycin if you following conditions:
- Do not use Azithromycin if you have liver problems
- Do not use Azithromycin if you are hypersensitive or allergic to azithromycin, or any macrolide or ketolide antibiotic (including erythromycin) or other ingredients of Zithromax.
To avoid side effects, talk to your doctor before you take azithromycin.
Your dosage and how often you take the medicine will depend on the condition being treated and its severity, your age, other medical conditions and how you react to the first dose. Azithromycin is a prescription drug and it’s available as an oral tablet, eye drop, oral suspension, intravenous form that a healthcare provider can give. Treatment with Azithromycin is short term and it becomes very risky if not taken as prescribed.
Take Azithromycin once or multiple times a day, depending on your condition, and eye drops are used in the affected eye twice a day. The injection is given by a healthcare provider.
Use packets only for doses equal to 1g.
COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease): 500mg (milligrams) once daily for Three days; or 500mg once for 1 day, then 250mg once daily for Four days.
Sinusitis: 500mg once daily for Three days.
Pneumonia, tonsillitis/pharyngitis, skin infections: 500mg once for One day, then 250mg once daily for Four days.
Use oral suspension (not packets).
Otitis media: <6months: not established; ≥6months: 30mg/kg as a single dose (max 1.5g); or 10mg/kg (max 500mg) once daily for Three days; or 10mg/kg (max 500mg) once then 5mg/kg (max 250mg) per day for Four days.
Sinusitis: <6months: not established; ≥6months: 10mg/kg (max 500mg) once daily for Three days.
Pneumonia: <6months: not established; ≥6mos: 10mg/kg (max 500mg) once for One day, then 5mg/kg (max 250mg) once daily for Four days.
Pharyngitis/tonsillitis: <2years: not established; ≥2years: 12mg/kg (max 500mg) once daily for Five days.
Expert advice for azithromycin
- Never take an antibiotic for a viral infection like a cold or the flu.
- Always take the complete course of treatment, as advised by your doctor even if you feel better.
- Overdose and side effects of Azithromycin can lead to nausea and diarrhea frequently. If you notice this becomes persistent or severe or your stool contains blood or mucus you should stop taking this medicine immediately and consult your doctor.
- Inform your doctor if you develop a rash or other unexpected symptoms.
- Inform your doctor if you have ever been diagnosed with liver problems.
Warnings and precautions while using Azithromycin
Azithromycin is generally safe to take while pregnant; when you consult your doctor tell that you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant before taking this drug.
Whether this medicine is found in breast milk remains unknown. Ask your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed before taking Azithromycin.
Impaired liver function
This medicine may rarely cause liver injuries like jaundice or hepatitis. Stop taking Azithromycin if any signs of liver injury like increased liver enzyme levels.
Taking more than prescribed Azithromycin may cause harmful side effects. Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you find any side effects.
If you miss the dosage take as soon as possible, and if it is near to next dose, skip the missing dosage continue the regular dosage. Do not take extra doses.
Available medicine for azithromycin
- Azibest–Blue Cross Laboratories Ltd
- Azee–Cipla Ltd
- Aziwok–Wockhardt Ltd
- Azilide–Micro Labs Ltd
- Azimax–Cipla Ltd
- Azibact–Ipca Laboratories Ltd
- Laz–Hetero Drugs Ltd
- Zithrox–Macleods Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd
- Zithrocin–Biochem Pharmaceutical Industries
- Zathrin–FDC Ltd
If for some reason an experienced doctor is not available around you, then you can contact us here.
Dr. Kaleem Mohammed graduated as a Bachelor of Physiotherapy in 2014 from Deccan College of Physiotherapy, affiliated to Dr. N.T.R. University of Health Sciences, Vijayawada, India. Dr. Kaleem is an expert at handling physiotherapy needs of patients suffering from orthopedic and spinal conditions and post-surgery rehabilitation. Dr. Kaleem is associated with HealthClues since its inception where he facilitates diagnosis and advanced consultation with senior doctors. He is also a medical researcher and prolific writer who loves sharing insightful commentaries and useful tips to educate the patient community about fitness, treatment options, and post-treatment recovery.