Erythromycin is an antibiotic commonly prescribed for the treatment of bacterial infections such as:
- Ear infections like otitis media and otitis externa
- Chest infections like pneumonia, bronchitis and Legionnaires’ disease (a type of lung infection)
- Mouth infections such as gingivitis, and dental abscesses
- Skin or soft tissue infections like cellulitis, boils, impetigo, acne, and erysipelas
- Infections of the nasal passages, throat or sinuses such as sinusitis, laryngitis, pharyngitis, and tonsillitis
- Pertussis, a serious infection that can cause severe coughing
- Diphtheria, a serious infection in the throat
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STD)
- Streptococcal infections of the throat or strep throat and skin
- Erythrasma, a serious bacterial infection that affects the skin
- Listeriosis, a type of bacterial infection that penetrates and replicate inside human cells
- Chlamydia, a common sexually transmitted infection that affects both men and women
- Syphilis, a bacterial infection that spread through sexual contact
- Scarlet fever, a bacterial infection that commonly affects children
- Acne rosacea, a type of rash that occurs on the face and its more common among women with fair skin
- Prevention of rheumatic heart fever and infections of the hearts’ valve among patients with valvular abnormalities of the heart before they undergo dental treatments.
Erythromycin is a macrolide type of antibiotic that stops the growth of the bacteria causing the infection. It inhibits the bacteria from producing essential proteins needed for survival. Without the essential protein, the bacteria cannot grow, multiply, and spread. This clears up the infection.
For the treatment of acne, this drug helps control the number of bacteria that feeds on sebum produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin. This brings the inflammation under control and allows the skin to heal.
When and How to Use Erythromycin
Your dose and duration of treatment depend on the following:
- Your age
- Your condition
- The severity of your condition
- The strength of the medicine
- Your kidney function
The usual dose for most adults is 250 mg every 6 hours or 500 mg every 12 hours. Your doctor may increase your dose up to 4 grams per day according to the severity of your condition. The dose for children is 30 mg to 50 mg/ kg/ day with the severity of infection, age, and weight taking into consideration.
Take this medicine exactly as directed or as written on the prescription label. Do not take more or less or for longer than what is prescribed to you. You may take it with or without food. For optimal blood levels of the drug, take it on an empty or at least 30 minutes before a meal or 2 hours after a meal. The peak effect of this drug can be observed within 3 hours after intake. The duration of the effect lasts for an average of 4 to 6 hours.
Possible Side Effects of Erythromycin
Inform your doctor if the following symptoms do not go away or have become severe:
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain
- Upset stomach
Some side effects can be serious. If you will experience any of the following side effects, seek medical attention right away:
- Allergic reactions with signs like rash, hives, swelling of the face, throat, tongue, difficulty breathing or swallowing.
- Unusual tiredness
- Irregular heartbeat
- Pain in the upper right part of the stomach
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes
- Dark urine
- Pale stool
- Severe diarrhea
What To know before taking Erythromycin?
- Erythromycin is suitable for most people including children of all ages, pregnant or breastfeeding women but it may not be suitable if you:
- Are allergic to any of its ingredients
- Are taking any other medications that may react with this drug
- A lower dose is needed and extra monitoring if:
- You have kidney or liver problems
- You have a rare inherited blood disorder called porphyria
- You are suffering from myasthenia gravis
- You have an abnormal heart rhythm as seen on ECG
- Erythromycin is not known to cause harm to unborn babies nor to the nursing infant. However, you should still let your doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before taking this medication.
- This medicine may cause live bacterial vaccines such as a vaccine for typhoid to not work properly. Before having any immunization, inform your doctor that you are taking this drug.
- Prolonged or repeated use of this drug may result in an overgrowth of non-susceptible fungi or bacteria. Discontinue using this medicine when reinfection occurs.
- This medicine can cause diarrhea and in some cases, it can be severe. Often time, it may occur 2 months or more after you stop taking it. Do not take any medications to treat your diarrhea without checking first with your doctor.
Getting the Best Result from Erythromycin
- Erythromycin is a first-choice medication in treating respiratory infections. It’s safe for children as young as 6 months old. It may also be used by pregnant women to prevent bacterial infection among newborns.
- Antibiotics such as this drug are an effective treatment for bacterial infections but will not work against viral infections like common colds and flu.
- To make sure the bacteria causing your infection are susceptible to this medication your doctor may need to take swab samples from your throat or skin.
- Before taking Erythromycin tell your doctor if you are taking any other medications including prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
- Patients with the liver problem must this medication with caution as this medicine is concentrated principally in the liver and excreted by the bile.