Azithromycin

Sounds like 'ay-ZITH-ro-MYE-sin'

Easy-to-read medicine information about azithromycin – what is it, how to take azithromycin safely and possible side effects.

Type of medicineAlso called
  • Antibiotic
  • Belongs to a group of antibiotics known as macrolides
  • Zithromax®
  • Apo-Azithromycin®

What is azithromycin?

  • Azithromycin is an antibiotic that is used to treat infections such as whooping cough, or infections of the chest. ear, skin or genitals such as gonorrhoea or chlamydia
  • Azithromycin is also used to prevent infection in people with cystic fibrosis
  • It works by killing or stopping the growth of the bugs that cause the infection.
  • Azithromycin is available as tablets and a liquid suspension (for use in children).

Dose

  • The dose of azithromycin will be different for different people depending on the type of infection. 
  • Depending on the type of infection you have, your doctor will advise you on how long to take azithromycin for.
  • For genital infections gonorrhoea and chlamydia azithromycin is taken a single 1 gram dose (2 x 500 milligram tablets).
  • For other infections, azithromycin is taken as a course for 3 to 5 days.
  • The dose for children will depend on their body weight.
  • Always take your azithromycin exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much azithromycin to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.

How to take azithromycin

  • Take your azithromycin tablet with a glass of water.
  • Measure azithromycin liquid carefully with an oral syringe or measuring spoon. Shake the bottle well before measuring each dose. 
  • Azithromycin is usually taken once a day. Take your dose at about the same time each day.
  • You can take azithromycin with or without food.
  • Keep taking azithromycin until you finish all the tablets, for as long as your doctor or pharmacist tells you to.
  • Do not stop taking azithromycin, even if you feel better after a few days, unless your doctor tells you to.
  • If you forget to take azithromycin, take it as soon as you remember.
  • But, if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the dose.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, azithromycin can cause unwanted side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often unwanted side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effectsWhat should I do?
  • Stomach upset
  • Feeling bloated, gas in the tummy
  • Tummy ache
  • Take with food
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome
  • Feeling sick, nausea or mild diarrhoea (runny stools)
  • Headache
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome
  • Signs of problems with your liver such as yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark urine, pain in the tummy
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine

Interactions

Azithromycin may interact with a few important medications or herbal supplements, so check with your doctor or pharmacist.

Learn more

Zithromax Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet   

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist.