Clarithromycin is a common antibiotic that is used to treat infections including chest, ear, throat, skin and bone infections. Clarithromycin is related to the another common antibiotic, erythromycin but offers slightly different activity.

Clarithromycin can additionally be used to treat Helicobacter pylori (H.pylori) and lyme disease. Although it doesn’t get rid of whooping cough (pertussis) it can reduce the chances of transmitting this infection to other children.

Clarithromycin is usually taken twice daily.

When patients are allergic to penicillin, they are often given clarithromycin instead but there are also occasions when clarithromycin is given first or alongside a penicillin.

One of the main side effects is irritation of the stomach and some patients may experience feeling sick, vomiting or diarrhoea. Other side effects are listed below.

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

Side effects

Although generally well tolerated there are a number of side effects that may be seen with clarithromycin. These include stomach upset, taste disturbance, headache, insomnia, excessive sweating. Other side effects also occurr more rarely and a more in-depth list can be seen 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 interactions

Clarithromycin should be avoided in pregnancy and should be used with caution in patients with liver or kidney dysfunction.

Authored by: Dr Tim Ubhi

Published: 8th March 2019


The British National Formulary & the summary of product characteristics.

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