Azithromycin is a common antibiotic that is used to treat infections including chest, ear, throat, skin and bone infections. Azithromycin is related to another common antibiotic, erythromycin but offers slightly different activity. It has less activity against certain bacteria (known as gram-positive bacteria) but is more effective against other bacteria (gram-negative bacteria).

Azithromycin is sometimes used to treat pseudomonas aeruginosa infection and also lyme disease.

Azithromycin is usually taken once daily.

If your child vomits less than 30 minutes after being given a dose of Azithromycin you should repeat the dose. If more than 30 minutes has passed you can assume that the medicine has been absorbed.

Patients who are on long term azithromycin should have a baseline ECG (for measurement of QTc) and then 3 monthly check ECG’s and blood tests for toxicity monitoring. This is because it can cause a phenomenon called “prolonged QT syndrome”.

Side effects

Although generally well tolerated there are a number of side effects that may be seen with Azithromycin. These include stomach upset, loss of appetite, dizziness, headache,tiredness, pins & needles, painful joints and disturbances in taste and vision. Other side effects also occurr more rarely and a more in-depth list can be found in the summary of product characteristics.

The drug can be found in the breast milk of lactating mothers and should therefore be avoided if breast feeding.

Drug interaction

This drug should be avoided if there is severe liver disease and should be used with caution in patients with reduced kidney function. This drug should also be used with caution if used alongside other drugs that cause prolonged QT syndrome.

Authored by: Dr Tim Ubhi

Published: 8th March 2019


The sources of information for this article include the British National Formulary & the summary of product characteristics.

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