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August 24, 2020

Clarithromycin is a macrolide antibiotic commonly prescribes by most doctors for the treatment and prevention of bacterial infections like:

  • Chest infections such as community-acquired pneumonia (a lung infection), and bronchitis (infections of the tubes leading to the lungs).
  • Duodenal ulcers caused by H. pylori infection (used along with omeprazole/ sodium bicarbonate)
  • Ear infection
  • Acute maxillary sinusitis
  • Infections of the nasal passages such as tonsillitis, laryngitis, and pharyngitis
  • Middle ear infections like otitis media
  • Prevention of whooping cough among people who haven’t been vaccinated against whooping cough
  • Prevention of heart infection

It’s also effective in treating and preventing disseminated Mycobacterium avium complex or MAC infection, a bacterium closely related to the bacteria that causes tuberculosis. This type of bacteria often affects people with human immunodeficiency virus or HIV.

Clarithromycin is a good first-choice medication for respiratory infections. Compared with other drugs of its kind, this drug is more tolerable with fewer side effects. It’s a broad-spectrum antibiotic that’s active against a wide variety of bacteria including:

As a macrolide antibiotic, clarithromycin works by preventing bacteria from producing proteins essential for their survival. Without the protein, bacteria will not be able to grow and reproduce. They will eventually die or be destroyed by the immune system. This clears up the infection.

When and How to Use Clarithromycin

Clarithromycin comes in different forms of different strengths. Your dose and the duration of treatment is based on the following:

  • Your condition
  • The severity of your condition
  • The strength of the medicine
  • Your initial response to the treatment

The typical recommended dose for most bacterial infections in adults is 250 mg to 500 mg every 12 hours for 7 to 14 days. You can take it with or without foods or as directed by your physician. Take it at an evenly spaced time to get the most effects. Take it at the same time each day to help you remember your dosing schedule.

If you are using this medicine in treating a bacterial infection, finish the entire course of the treatment even if the symptoms disappear or the infection may seem to clear up. Do not stop your medication all of a sudden as this can only worsen your condition. Your infection may not be completely treated and the bacteria may become more resistant to the medicine. You should start to feel better during the first few days of your treatment. If your symptoms persist or get worse, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Possible Side Effects of Clarithromycin

Clarithromycin may cause side effects aside from its intended effects. Common side effects are:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Change in taste
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Heartburn

If the side effects mentioned persist or become worse, call your doctor right away.

Some side effects can be serious. Get medical treatment immediately if you will experience any of the following serious side effects:

  • Allergic reaction with signs like hives, itching, swelling of the face, tongue, mouth, hand, and feet; difficulty breathing and swallowing
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Liver problems with signs like yellowing of the eyes or skin, dark-colored urine
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Pain in the upper right part of the stomach
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle weakness
  • Blistering or peeling of the skin
  • Lack of energy
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Double vision

What to know before taking Clarithromycin?

  • This medicine is safe and suitable for most patients but exercise caution when used in the following patients with:
  • Kidney or liver problems
  • Disturbances in the level of electrolytes in the blood like low potassium or magnesium.
  • Who are taking other medicines
  • Myasthenia gravies, a condition which involves muscle weakness
  • Heart disease or very slow heart rate
  • Who are taking medications that can cause an abnormal rhythm of the heart
  • History of irregular heartbeat that involves the lower chamber of the heart
  • Clarithromycin can cause a serious allergic reaction that is life-threatening. In case this happens, seek medical help as soon as possible.
  • This medicine can make you dizzy. Do not drive or do anything that requires mental alertness.
  • This medication may cause severe intestinal condition due to a type of resistant bacteria. This condition may occur weeks or months after your treatment. In this happens, do not take anti-diarrhea as these can make them worse.
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women should use this medicine only when clearly needed.

Getting the Best Result from Clarithromycin

  • In case of overdose, seek medical attention right away. Symptoms of overdose may include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain.
  • Clarithromycin can sometimes alter the normal bacteria flora of the colon and may cause the condition colitis. Colitis is an inflammation of the bowel due to the overgrowth of C. difficile bacteria. See your doctor if your diarrhea becomes severe or that contain blood or mucus either during or after taking your medication.
  • The use of this medicine for a prolonged period may result in oral thrush or yeast infection. If you notice any white patches in your mouth or a change in the vaginal discharge call your doctor right away.
  • Avoid getting any vaccines during the treatment as this medicine can cause live vaccines to not work.
  • This medication may affect your heart’s rhythm or QT prolongation. QT prolongation can oftentimes be fatal and should be treated right away. Symptoms may include irregular heartbeat, severe dizziness, and fainting.
  • The risk of QT prolongation may increase if you have other medical conditions or are taking other drugs that may cause QT prolongation. For this reason, inform your doctor if you are taking any other medications including those bought without prescriptions, vitamins, herbal medicines, and supplements.

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