General Practice 2022

Azithromycin: what it is for, how to take it and side effects

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Azithromycin: what it is for, how to take it and side effects
Azithromycin: what it is for, how to take it and side effects

Azithromycin is an antibiotic indicated for the treatment of bacterial infections such as sinusitis, pneumonia, skin infections, or sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea or chlamydia, for example.

This antibiotic can be purchased in pharmacies or drugstores in the form of a 500 mg or 1000 mg tablet, or an oral suspension of 600 mg, 900 mg or 1500 mg, under the trade names Azi, Zithromax, Astro or Azimix, for example, or under the generic name “azithromycin dihydrate”, and is sold with a prescription only.

In addition, azithromycin can also be found in the form of an injection, being used only in hospitals, applied by the nurse, under medical supervision.

What is it for

Azithromycin is indicated for the treatment of bacterial infections such as:

  • Sinusitis;
  • Pharyngitis;
  • Bronchitis;
  • Pneumonia;
  • Acute otitis media;
  • Abscesses;
  • Boils;
  • Infected skin ulcers;
  • Uretrites;
  • Cervicitis.

In addition, this medication can be used in the treatment of sexually transmitted infections, mainly fighting the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis, Haemophilus ducreyi and Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which are the causative agents of chlamydia, chancroid and gonorrhea, respectively.

Azithromycin works for COVID-19?

Azithromycin may be prescribed by a doctor for people with COVID-19 who have bacterial pneumonia at the same time, as this drug helps fight bacteria.

However, azithromycin has no action against viruses, including coronavirus, and is not indicated when there are no associated bacterial infections. See the main remedies indicated for the treatment of COVID-19.

How to take it

Azithromycin in the form of tablets or oral suspension, should be taken orally, before or after a meal, at the times established by the doctor.

Typically recommended doses of azithromycin for adults depend on the type of infection, which include:

  • Treatment of sexually transmitted infections in adults: the normally recommended dose is 1000 mg as a single dose;
  • Treatment of other infections in adults: the normally recommended dose is 1 tablet of 500 mg, per day, always taken at the same time for 3 days, which corresponds to to a total dose of 1500 mg in 3 days of treatment, as recommended by a physician.Alternatively, the same total dose can be administered over 5 days as a single dose of 500 mg on day 1 and 250 mg once a day from day 2 to day 5.

As for children, the doses of azithromycin should be calculated by the pediatrician, according to the child's body weight. Generally, the total dose in children is 30 mg/kg given as a single daily dose of 10 mg/kg for 3 days, or the same total dose can be given for 5 days as a single dose of 10 mg/kg in the 1st day and 5 mg/kg, once a day, from the 2nd to the 5th day.

Alternatively, for the treatment of children with acute otitis media, the pediatrician may recommend the administration of a single dose of 30 mg/kg. The daily dose of 500 mg should not be exceeded.

In some cases, the doctor may change the dose of azithromycin in children and adults. It is important that the antibiotic is used according to the doctor's guidance, and should not be suspended without an indication, as it can lead to bacterial resistance and complications.

How to prepare azithromycin oral suspension

Azithromycin oral suspension is available in powder form to be diluted before use. Therefore, add the diluent provided in the package and shake vigorously for at least 1 minute.

The doses of azithromycin oral suspension must be measured with the dosing syringe supplied with the product, and it is important to always shake the bottle before use.

After preparation, the azithromycin suspension should be stored at room temperature for a maximum of 5 days. After this period, any unused amount must be discarded.

Possible side effects

The most common side effects that may arise during treatment with azithromycin are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loose stools, abdominal discomfort, constipation or diarrhea, and gas. In addition, dizziness, drowsiness and loss of appetite may occur.

In addition, azithromycin can also cause severe allergic reactions that require immediate medical attention. Therefore, you should stop treatment and seek the nearest emergency department if you experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing, chest pain, feeling of a closed throat, swelling in the mouth, tongue or face, blistering or peeling of the skin or hives.. Know how to identify the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction.

Does Azithromycin cut the effect of birth control?

Azithromycin does not cut the effect of the contraceptive, however it can cause an imbalance in the intestinal microbiota, resulting in diarrhea and preventing the correct absorption of the contraceptive. Therefore, if there is diarrhea within 4 hours of taking the contraceptive, there may be a risk that the effectiveness of the pill will be reduced.

Who should not use

Azithromycin should not be used by people who are allergic to any component of the formula and should only be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding, if directed by a doctor.

Furthermore, it is not recommended for people with liver and kidney diseases and with changes in the cardiovascular system due to possible side effects and the process of absorption and metabolism of the drug.

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