Before taking azithromycin:
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to azithromycin, clarithromycin (Biaxin, in Prevpac), dirithromycin (not available in the U.S.), erythromycin (E.E.S., ERYC, Erythrocin), telithromycin (Ketek; not available in the U.S.), any other medications, or any of the ingredients in azithromycin tablets or suspension (liquid). Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: anticoagulants ('blood thinners') such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven); colchicine (Colcrys, Gloperba); cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune); digoxin (Lanoxin); dihydroergotamine (D.H.E. 45, Migranal); ergotamine (Ergomar); medications for irregular heartbeat such as amiodarone (Cordarone, Pacerone), dofetilide (Tikosyn), procainamide (Procanbid), quinidine, and sotalol (Betapace, Sorine); nelfinavir (Viracept); phenytoin (Dilantin); and terfenadine (not available in the U.S.). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
- if you are taking antacids containing aluminum hydroxide or magnesium hydroxide (Maalox, Mylanta, Tums, others), you will need to allow some time to pass between when you take a dose of these antacids and when you take a dose of azithromycin tablets or liquid. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how many hours before or after you take azithromycin you may take these medications. The extended-release suspension may be taken at any time with antacids.
- tell your doctor if you have ever had jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes) or other liver problems while taking azithromycin. Your doctor will probably tell you not to take azithromycin.
- tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family has or has ever had a prolonged QT interval (a rare heart problem that may cause irregular heartbeat, fainting, or sudden death) or a fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat, and if you have low levels of magnesium or potassium in your blood; if you have a blood infection; heart failure; cystic fibrosis; myasthenia gravis (a condition of muscles and the nerves that control them); or if you have kidney or liver disease.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while taking azithromycin, call your doctor.
Azithromycin may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- stomach pain
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop taking azithromycin and call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:
- fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
- rash with or without a fever
- blisters or peeling
- fever and pus-filled, blister-like sores, redness, and swelling of the skin
- wheezing or difficulty breathing or swallowing
- swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- vomiting or irritability while feeding (in infants less than 6 weeks old)
- severe diarrhea (watery or bloody stools) that may occur with or without fever and stomach cramps (may occur up to 2 months or more after your treatment)
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
- extreme tiredness
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- lack of energy
- loss of appetite
- pain in the upper right part of the stomach
- flu-like symptoms
- dark-colored urine
- unusual muscle weakness or difficulty with muscle control
- pink and swollen eyes
Azithromycin may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online href="http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store azithromycin tablets, suspension, and extended-release suspension at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Do not refrigerate or freeze the extended-release suspension. Discard any azithromycin suspension that is left over after 10 days or no longer needed. Discard any unused extended-release azithromycin suspension after dosing is complete or 12 hours after preparation.
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor may order certain lab tests to check your body's response to azithromycin.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Your prescription is probably not refillable. If you still have symptoms of infection after you finish the azithromycin, call your doctor.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
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