Zithromax (Azithromycin) Antibiotic Treats Bacterial Infections and Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Information, Indications, Proper Use, Precautions, Side Effects

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Product name Zithromax

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Category Antibiotics
Active ingredient Azithromycin
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What Is Zithromax and How It Works

Zithromax is one of the brand names of a semi-synthetic antibiotic drug azithromycin. It’s often prescribed for treating sexually transmitted diseases and bacterial infections. Azithromycin antibiotic is in the List of Essential Medicines by World Health Organization. It was first synthesized in the beginning of 1980s. And in the end of 1980s its distribution on the market began under Zitromax name. It soon became one of the most popular drugs among antibiotics due to its high effectiveness and relatively low percentage of adverse effects.

Its work is based on decreasing of the bacteria’s ability for protein production and thus on provoking peptide activity. This prevents bacteria from spreading, making its life and reproduction difficult and reducing its vitality. The drug belongs to a group of macrolide medicines whose main action is lowering peptide activity and suspending synthesis of bacteria’s protein. Fortunately, the proteins in humans are made otherwise than in bacteria, so the proteins production is not impaired.

Azithromycin comes in the form of pills, oral suspension and a liquid. The drug is permitted for treatment of both adults and children. This antibiotic is acid-stable, so there’s no need to produce it in the form of capsules to protect it from gastric acids. Besides several branded versions of azithromycin produced by different pharmaceutical companies, a generic version is also available.

One must not try to treat cold or flu with azithromycin, because it’s helpless against viral infections.

Medical Uses and Indications

What Is Zithromax and How It WorksWhen it comes to sexually transmitted diseases, the indications for using azithromycin are:

  • gonorrhea;
  • chlamydia;
  • chancroid (genital ulcer disease) in men;
  • cervicitis;
  • urethritis.

Other bacterial infections treated with the drug are:

  • respiratory infections – pneumonia, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;
  • throat infections such as tonsillitis/pharyngitis;
  • ear infections such as acute otitis;
  • eye infections: trachoma;
  • infections of sinus (acute bacterial sinusitis);
  • uncomplicated skin infections (impetigo, cellulitis, folliculitis, etc.);
  • pelvic inflammatory disease;
  • intestinal infections: traveler’s diarrhea;
  • malaria.

There’re also bacterial infections that are not so common and that can be treated with Zithromax if the doctor considers it appropriate. The examples of such off-label usage are treatment of acne, pertussis (whooping cough), mycobacterium avium complex in HIV-positive patients, cat scratch disease, and prevention of heart infections such as bacterial endocarditis.

Zitromax may be also prescribed for prophylaxis, not only for treatment. But in such cases the doctor has to weight the benefits of long-term prophylaxis against the risk of various side effects, including cardiovascular problems.

In many cases azithromycin is used as monotherapy, but in some cases combination therapy is necessary. This drug is not a panacea, though its antibacterial activity is rather broad – many atypical bacteria, some Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. But there’re certain bacterial strains that are highly resistant to it.

Dosage and Proper Use of Zitromax

Zithromax may come in 250/500/600 mg tabs, 100 mg/5 mL and 200 mg/5 mL solutions (powder for oral suspension), and a liquid solution.

Usually the medicine is taken once a day by mouth) or intravenously. It can be taken with water, with or without food; the absorption is quick anyway, but it’s better on an empty stomach. The doses are determined individually for every patient depending on his/her type of infection, weight, age, and other factors. The treatment of a common bacterial infection may last from 3-5 days to some weeks. In some cases (like with some sexually transmitted diseases) a single large dose is prescribed.

The patient should follow the instructions and continue the treatment with Zithromax, adhering to the schedule, even if it seems that he/she is recovering. It’s really important to make sure that the repeated infection doesn’t occur and that the infection doesn’t develop resistance to the antibiotic. It’s impermissible to skip the doses or to reduce the length of treatment on one’s own initiative without the doctor’s control. The doctor may also prolong or adjust the treatment in case of severe or chronic infections.

Dispose of the medication when it’s expired, don’t use it as it can be harmful for health.

Contraindications and Precautions: Allergy, Health Conditions, Pregnancy

Antibiotics intake is a serious issue and requires a responsible approach. Patients with certain health problems have to cautious when it comes to using Zithromax.

And some patients have contraindications to taking it:

  • allergy to azithromycin or the medicine’s auxiliary ingredients;
  • history of liver problems after taking Zitromax in the past.

In case of certain health problems (like with liver or kidney), the physician may change or even cancel the doses.

When it’s expected that you’re going to be treated with Zitromax, inform the doctor about all your health conditions, especially these:

  • allergies to any medications;
  • heart problems;
  • liver failure and diseases;
  • kidney failure and diseases;
  • myasthenia gravis;
  • upcoming operation;
  • pregnancy or planning to have a baby; breast-feeding.

Also tell about all other medications you might be taking at the moment, both over-the-counter and prescription ones, including hormonal contraceptives, vitamins, dietary supplements, antacids. The doctor needs this information to predict possible drug interactions and their unwanted consequences.

Zitromax is a medication of pregnancy type Category B, which means that no studies with pregnant women were held. As for tests on animals, no negative effects on the fetus were noticed. Anyway, pregnant women should be cautious and inform the physician about their condition. This also concerns breastfeeding women, because azithromycin may get into the breast milk.

Side Effects: Rare, Common, Dangerous

Side Effects Rare, Common, Dangerous

Treatment with antibiotics may be accompanied by a range of unwanted adverse effects.

According to the studies, the following symptoms are most common:

  • diarrhea (7% of patients);
  • vomiting (7%);
  • nausea (5%);
  • abdominal pain (3%);
  • rash of unexplained origin (2%);
  • continuous headaches (1%).

Other side effects are more serious and require quick medial help, for example:

  • yellowed eyes or skin;
  • non-regular heartbeat;
  • severe rash;
  • wet diarrhea, bloody stool;
  • abnormal swelling of different body parts;
  • hissing respiration, difficulty breathing;
  • difficulty swallowing;
  • peeling/itching of skin.

Strong diarrhea (or so called pseudomembranous colitis) should always draw the patient’s attention. If he/she has watery or bloody diarrhea, stomach pain, the consultation with the physician is necessary as soon as possible. It’s also important to inform about all the changes in the patient’s condition. Sometimes an intake of antibiotics may cause the raise of other infections, for example oral or vaginal yeast infections. This happens because of the immunity suppression and changes in microflora.

The list below includes the uncommon side effects that happen rarely – in about 1% of patients:

  • allergic reaction;
  • nervousness;
  • giddiness, delirium;
  • tinnitus, ringing of the ears;
  • sensitiveness to sun;
  • dermatologic reactions;
  • mouth infections;
  • low blood pressure;
  • reduced blood disks level;
  • kidney or liver problems;
  • deaquation;
  • severe gastric infections;
  • coprostasis;
  • thrush of vulva;
  • vagina sensitivity;
  • anaphylaxis;
  • encephalopathy in children.

The FDA mentions that people with heart problems should be especially cautious because azithromycin may lead to dangerous irregular heart rhythm as a consequence of abnormal changes in the heart’s electrical activity. Besides patients with preexisting heart problems, those with slow heart rate, abnormal heart rhythms, low blood magnesium/potassium levels, QT interval prolongation are at particular risk as well.

Interactions with Other Drugs and Possible Consequences

Certain drugs can interact with azithromycin, which may cause strengthening of effect of one of the interacting drugs, or lead to some negative manifestations.

Here’re some of the drugs (this also concerns medications containing them) Zitromax can react with causing the increased and possibly dangerous amount of these drugs in the body, creating the risk of toxicity:

  • quinine;
  • phenytoin;
  • triazolam;
  • digoxin;
  • ergot alkaloids;
  • tacrolimus;
  • theophylline;
  • carbamazepine;
  • cyclosporine;
  • warfarin – a danger of bleeding as a result of insufficient blood clotting.

And these drugs may influence the quantity of azithromycin (Zitromax) in the organism:

  • nelfinavir – the amount of azithromycin in the body may rise;
  • antacids containing magnesium or aluminum (Maalox, Mylanta, Gelusis, etc.) – they may reduce azithromycin absorption, so a two-hour interval is recommended between them.

All mentioned above means that the doctor shall decide whether it’s necessary and safe for a particular patient to take these drugs in combination with Zitromax, in what doses and with what interval. The doctor may also adjust (increase or reduce) the dosage of this or that medication, cancel or replace it based on the dynamics of treatment and the patient’s state of health.

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