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Azithromycin is an antibiotic medication used to treat a variety of different infections, including chest, throat, ear and nose infections, as well as some sexually transmitted infections and travellers’ diarrhoea. It works by killing bacteria within the body that cause these infections.

What is Azithromycin?

Azithromycin is a medicine that belongs to a group of antibiotics called macrolides. Azithromycin is used to treat bacterial infections caused by microorganisms, such as bacteria. These infections can include chest, throat or nasal infections, along with ear, skin and sexually transmitted infections.

Azithromycin is used for the treatment of chlamydia. This is usually contracted through unprotected sex with someone who has chlamydia.

Chlamydia doesn't always show symptoms immediately, and some people may have more symptoms than others. Symptoms in women can include bleeding between periods, pain in the lower abdomen and a burning pain when passing urine. In men, symptoms may include a discharge from the penis and a burning feeling while passing urine.

To reduce the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection, it is important to protect yourself by using barrier methods of contraception, like using a condom for all anal, oral and vaginal sex. Oral contraceptives do not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases.

Azithromycin is a prescription only medication. You cannot buy it without a prescription. However, we can prescribe it to you following an online consultation. Contact us to find out more.

For more information about azithromycin, consult the patient information leaflet.

How it works

Azithromycin works by stopping the bacteria causing the chlamydia infection from developing and spreading by interfering with the process of protein synthesis.

As bacteria require certain proteins in order to multiply and grow, interfering with their ability to do this slows their growth and damages the bacterial cells. The immune system is better able to attack the weakened bacteria to clear the infection.

Before you take it

Do not take azithromycin if you are allergic to azithromycin, any other macrolide antibiotic such as erythromycin, or any of the other ingredients in this medicine. A full ingredients can be found in the patient information leaflet.

Make sure that you consult your doctor before taking azithromycin if you have or have ever had liver or kidney problems, heart conditions, myasthenia gravis or if you are taking medication to treat migraines. Your doctor may need to monitor more closely how azithromycin affects you.

Azithromycin may interact with some medicines. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking or have recently taken any other medicines, in particular:

  • Colchicine (used for gout)
  • Warfarin or any similar medicines to prevent blood clots
  • Ciclosporin (used to suppress the immune system to prevent rejection of a transplanted organ or bone marrow)
  • Digoxin (used to treat heart failure)

If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, speak to your doctor before taking this medication. The safety of azithromycin during pregnancy is unknown and it can pass into breast milk.

This is not a complete list of warnings and interactions. For an exhaustive list, consult the patient information leaflet, or ask your doctor for advice.

Dosage Instructions

Always take this medicine exactly as your doctor has told you and never exceed the recommended dose.

Tablets should be swallowed whole, with water, and should not be chewed or broken.

For the treatment of chlamydia, a single dose of 1000mg (two 500mg tablets) should be taken, for one day only.

Azithromycin is not the first line treatment for chlamydia as there is evidence that an increasing number of cases of chlamydia have shown resistance to this antibiotic. Azithromycin may still be used for patients who cannot tolerate the first line treatment, which is doxycycline.

Common Side Effects of Azithromycin

Like all medicines, this medicine can cause side effects, although not everybody gets them. Common effects can include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Visual disturbances
  • Weakness

More rare side effects that may be experienced include yeast infections, chest pain and ringing of the ears.

Although rare, azithromycin may cause an allergic reaction, which can be serious. Tell your doctor straight away if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing, sudden wheeziness, swelling and itching
  • Severe or prolonged diarrhoea
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Serious skin reactions

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the above.

For an exhaustive list of side effects, consult the patient information leaflet. or ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

I’m pregnant, can I take this medication?

You should seek advice from your GP of pharmacist before taking this medication. This is because the effects of azithromycin on your unborn baby are unknown.

Can I breastfeed while taking azithromycin?

You should consult your doctor for advice before breastfeeding. It is unknown if the medication can be passed into the breast milk.

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