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August 3, 2020

Azithromycin is an antibiotic that fights bacteria. It is used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections such as:

  • Infections that affects the skin and skin structure
  • Respiratory infections such as pertussis, bronchitis and community acquired pneumonia
  • Eyes, ear and nose infection such as otitis media, conjunctivitis, sinusitis and tonsillitis
  • Lyme disease, a type of bacterial infections caused by infected ticks
  • Uncomplicated genital infection
  • Cat scratch disease
  • Penicillin allergic rheumatic fever prophylaxis
  • It can also be used in treating a number of sexually transmitted disease including gonorrhea infection and chlamydia.

Azithromycin alone and in combination with hydroxychloroquine is now being used for the treatment for hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Note that Azithromycin should only be used in treating coronavirus infected patients under the direction and supervision of a doctor.

Azithromycin is a versatile antibiotic suitable for adults and children aged six months and over. It is good in treating many bacterial infections and has an increased action against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. It is a preferred medication in treating urethritis and STDs like chlamydia. Compare with erythromycin, it has fewer side effects and requires a shorter course of treatment as the drug has a very long half-life.

This drug is available as brand names and cheaper generic version. This drug has a similar range of antibacterial activity to penicillin. It is sometimes used as an alternative to penicillin to those who cannot tolerate or are allergic to penicillin. This broad-spectrum drug is a type of macrolide antibiotic that is derived from erythromycin. It works by preventing the bacteria from growing and multiplying by preventing the bacteria from producing the essential proteins needed for it to survive. Bacteria need to produce protein to survive. Without the protein, bacteria will not grow and multiply. Eventually, they die or are destroyed by the immune system clearing up the infection.

When and How to Use Azithromycin

This drug has very long half-life. It’s slowly released into the blood stream and has a half-life of about 68 hours. Before using this drug, see to it that you have read and understood the patient’s information leaflet. If you have questions, ask your doctor or the pharmacist. Take Azithromycin exactly as directed. The recommended dose for oral tablet is 500 to 2000mg in single or multiple doses. For most bacterial infection, take it once a day only for a relatively short course of treatment. Your initial dose is often a double dose. In treating chlamydia and urethritis, one dose of this medicine is a complete treatment.

Take it one hour before a meal or 2 hours after a meal. If it upsets your stomach, you may take it with foods. You can also prevent stomach upset by taking probiotics like yogurt. Take it at the same time each day. If you have missed a dose, take it as soon as you remember. The onset of effect of this drug can be observed within 2 to 3 hours after intake while the duration of the effect lasts for an average of 2 to 4 days.

Possible Side Effects of Azithromycin

Side effects of this drug can affect people in different ways. Common side effects are:

Other possible side effects are:

  • Colitis, an inflammation of the bowel
  • Chest pain, palpitation, fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Hepatitis, inflammation of the liver
  • Overgrowth of the yeast Candida causing infections such as thrush
  • Decrease in the number of the white blood cells

What should I know before taking Azithromycin?

  • Use this with caution among patients with:
    • Liver or kidney problems
    • Heart failure like irregular heartbeat, abnormal heart rhythm
    • Myasthenia gravis, a muscular disorder that causes weakness in the skeletal muscle.
    • Disturbances in the levels of electrolytes such as magnesium and potassium.
  • Do not use this if you have had jaundice or liver problems previously.
  • Do not use this if you are allergic to it and any other ingredients of it.
  • If you have heart disease, its best to avoid this drug as this can cause arrhythmia, QT-prolongation and sudden death.
  • Azithromycin can cause gastrointestinal distress like vomiting and nausea. These unwanted effects can be avoided by eating foods before taking your medications.
  • Inform your doctor what other non-prescription and prescription medication, nutritional supplements and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Azithromycin can interact with other medicines and may cause serious adverse reactions.
  • In some cases, patients may get severe diarrhea due to the bacteria C.difficile which can start weeks or even months after taking this medicine. Symptoms may include bloody and watery stool, cramps, stomach pain and fever. Do not try to treat them on your own, Seek medical help.

Getting the Best Result from Azithromycin

  • Azithromycin can treat a wide variety of bacterial infections. However, it will not treat viral infections like common colds and flu. Do not take it in treating common colds and flu.
  • Use this medication only when clearly needed especially to those who have heart problems, and elderly people.
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women should use this drug only when clearly needed.
  • Skipping out on your medication may contribute to antibiotic resistance. Bacteria survive and spread infecting others. Use this medicine for the full prescribed length of treatment. Continue taking it even if you feel well or the infection seems cleared up.
  • Using thus drug for too long can result in oral thrush or new yeast infection. If you will experience vaginal discharge or you have noticed white patches in your mouth contact your doctor right away.
  • If you have noticed symptoms of allergic reactions such as swelling of the face, throat or tongue, rash, itching, severe dizziness and trouble breathing, seek medical attention right away.

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