All Your Questions About Azithromycin (Zithromax), Answered

Zithromax is the brand name for the generic medication known as azithromycin. It is also commonly known as “Z-Pak” when dispensed in a pack of six tablets. Common uses for this antibiotic include acne, skin and soft tissue infections, chlamydia, gonorrhea, ear infections, and strep throat.

Azithromycin (zithromax) comes in a variety of formulations. It is most commonly prescribed orally as a tablet, but it also comes as a suspension (liquid) formulation, usually prescribed for children or for those who prefer liquid medications over tablets. 

How does it work?

Azithromycin (zithromax) belongs to a class of antibiotics called macrolides. They work by preventing harmful bacteria from producing proteins that are needed for their survival. Without these essential proteins, the bacteria is unable to grow, multiply, and survive. The immune system is then able to kick in and destroy the remaining bacteria. 

What are possible side effects?

In general, azithromycin (zithromax) is very well-tolerated. Many people have no side effects or only minor side effects. The most common side effects, if they occur, are usually diarrhea and nausea (which are potential side effects of almost all medications). Higher single-dose regimens tend to have increased incidences of diarrhea and nausea. In very rare cases, there are side effects that have a <1% chance of occurrence, which include chest pain, palpitations, and abdominal pain. 

Although rare, please call your doctor right away should you experience any of the following symptoms: severe skin reaction (Stevens-Johnson syndrome), dark urine with yellowing skin or eyes, loss of appetite (liver toxicity), or severe diarrhea (potential C-diff associated diarrhea). Other signs to watch out for include chest pain, abnormal heartbeat, dizziness, change in hearing, change in eyesight, and swollen glands, among others. If you have any concerns, please contact your pharmacist and/or physician. 

What are some helpful pharmacist tips?

When taking any antibiotic, it is extremely important to finish the entire course/bottle as directed, even if you feel better before all your medication is finished. Completing a regimen is vital to ensure that any infection is fully taken care of and has very little chance to come back. If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor. 

You can take this medication with or without food. It is important that you do not take antacids that have magnesium or aluminum (e.g.Tums) at the same time as this medication. If you do need to take an antacid that contains magnesium or aluminum, then you should take it 1-2 hours before or after you take your dose of azithromycin (zithromax). 

It is also important to stay hydrated throughout the day when taking any antibiotic. 
If you miss a dose, please take it as soon as you think about it. If it is too close to the time of your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your normal time. Do not take 2 doses at once or any extra doses. Call your pharmacist or doctor if you need any clarification regarding missed doses and when to take it. 

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