In this session, we will be discussing the consumer medication information for azithromycin, trade name ZithromaxTM.

What it’s for & How to take

Azithromycin is a macrolide type antibiotic that works by blocking the growth of bacteria. Azithromycin is used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections.

Do not take an antibiotic without first being seen by a prescriber. Not all antibiotics work for all types of infections. If you take an antibiotic that is not prescribed for you, the condition might get worse.

Azithromycin will not work to treat the common cold or flu. This antibiotic may not be effective if it has been overused in conditions that are not related to bacterial infections.

Azithromycin is usually prescribed to be taken once daily or as directed by your physician. This medication may be taken with or without food, however, if you have a sensitive stomach, take it with a meal or a snack.

If you have taken an antacid containing aluminum or magnesium (such as MaaloxTM or MylantaTM), wait at least two hours before you take azithromycin. The antacid may block the absorption of this antibiotic and make it less effective.

Take this medication at evenly spaced intervals. Antibiotics work best when there is a constant level of the medication kept in the body always.

If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of your next dose, skip it and continue with your normal dose time. Unless directed otherwise, do not take a double dose to make up the missed dose.

Take this medication until it is all done, even if you are feeling better and the symptoms are gone. If you stop taking your antibiotic, the infection might come back and may be harder to treat.

Warnings & Cautions

  • Antibiotic therapy may sometimes allow for growth of yeast in your mouth or cause a vaginal yeast infection in women. Tell your pharmacist or doctor if you have any symptoms of yeast in your mouth (such as white patches or a dry/chalky feeling in your mouth) or any symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection (such as itching, discharge, redness or swelling).
  • Let your pharmacist or doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before taking azithromycin.
  • Some antibiotics may decrease the effect of birth control. If you are taking birth control, discuss this with your doctor or pharmacist before starting a course of therapy with azithromycin. You may need to use backup birth control.
  • Tell your doctor if you have ever been told you have any heart rhythm problems. Rarely, azithromycin may cause your heart to beat fast and unsteady. If you feel any severe dizziness or feel like your heart is racing or beating too fast, get medical help right away.
  • The elderly may be more sensitive to the side effects of this medication. If you are an older adult, you will be more likely to develop dizziness and racing heart.

Interactions & Side Effects

  • Tell your pharmacist or doctor all your medication allergies so they may determine if azithromycin is safe for you to take.
  • Avoid dangerous drug interactions. Tell your pharmacist or doctor all the other medication you are taking, including over the counter supplements, even if you don’t take them very often.
  • Ask your doctor if this medication is safe to take with your current health conditions. Tell your doctor if you have a history of diabetes, heart disease, liver or kidney disease, or any other medical conditions.
  • While taking azithromycin, you may have some nausea, diarrhea or vomiting. If these or any other unwanted side effects persist, contact your doctor or pharmacist to talk about it with them.
  • Call your doctor right away if you have any severe abdominal pain, constant diarrhea or mucus or blood in your stool.

If you have any questions about what you have heard, contact your pharmacist or doctor. This session does not include all the potential interactions or side effects that this medication may cause. Ask your pharmacist how your medication should be stored and how you should dispose of it when you are done taking it. Do not share your medication with anyone, ever. Remember, this is not meant to replace your counseling session with your pharmacist. In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Updated 7/20