The People's Perspective on Medicine



Zithromax is an antibiotic used to treat respiratory tract infections, infections of the skin, and the sexually transmitted disease Chlamydia trachomatis.

Children may be given Zithromax for ear infections and certain sore throats. It is also prescribed for HIV-positive patients who have developed Mycobacterium avium complex.

Side Effects and Interactions

Very few adverse effects are reported with Zithromax. Diarrhea, nausea and stomach pain are among the possible reactions.

Other side effects that are reported occasionally include indigestion, vaginitis, rash, palpitations and dizziness.

An allergic reaction with swelling of the face and throat and trouble breathing is rare but requires emergency treatment. Report any suspected reactions to the physician promptly.

Aluminum/magnesium antacids can reduce the absorption of Zithromax and should not be taken at the same time.

Check with your physician and pharmacist to make sure Zithromax is safe in combination with any other drug you may take

Special Precautions

Serious allergic reactions have occurred rarely in people taking Zithromax.

Occasionally, when treatment of allergic symptoms is stopped, the symptoms begin again even without the patient taking any more Zithromax. Doctors suspect that this is due to the length of time (days) that the antibiotic lingers in the body.

Zithromax may not be appropriate for people with liver problems. Check with your doctor if you have any questions about this.

This medication makes some people more sensitive to sun damage. Sunscreen, protective clothing and effective sunglasses are recommended.

Taking the Medicine

The manufacturer recommends that Zithromax be taken at least an hour before or two hours following a meal. It should not be taken with food.

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    About the Author
    Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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    Azithromycin interacts with several other common medications, where it increases the QT section of the heart rhythm. This can cause dizziness, skipped heart beats, passing out. I used a drug interaction checker at .

    After starting azithromycin for a sinus infection I experienced horrible pain and weakness in my left wrist and shoulder. At first I thought it was a sprain from lifting a heavy grocery bag, but the next day, after taking the second dose, the pain became worse and more widespread. I immediately stopped the drug; however, because of the drug’s long half life, the symptoms did not subsided for weeks. While the pain subsided relatively quickly after stopping the drug, the joints affected still feel weak and not reliable.
    I may need to follow up with a rheumatologist to determine if there is any permanent damage. I realize this is probably a rare reaction, but the drug manufacturer should include these symptoms in their warning label.

    2/27/2010 After several consecutive treatments with ‘Z-Pack'(Azithromycin), the oral bacteria (abscess) developed resistance to the antibiotic and I begin to experience dizziness and, of more concern, heart palpitations and irregular heartbeat. After several days, I sought cardiac evaluation and although EKG, etc. were normal, this adverse reaction continued for more than a week following the end of treatment.

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