• Azithromycin is an antibiotic used for the treatment of infections.
  • Even if your condition improves it is important to complete the prescribed course unless you are told to stop, or your infection could come back.
  • Any side-effects are usually mild. The most common are feeling sick, being sick, stomach ache, and diarrhoea.

About azithromycin

Type of medicine Macrolide antibiotic
Used for Bacterial infections, such as infections of the chest, skin, ear and some sexually transmitted infections
Also called Zithromax®
Available as Tablets, capsules and oral liquid

Azithromycin is used to treat a variety of bacterial infections. It works by killing the bacteria that cause the infection.

Before taking azithromycin

Before taking azithromycin make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
  • If you have liver or kidney problems.
  • If you have heart rhythm problems.
  • If you are taking other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or any other medicine.

How to take azithromycin

  • Before starting this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack.
  • Take azithromycin exactly as your doctor has told you.
  • If you are taking azithromycin capsules, take them when your stomach is empty. This means an hour before food or 2 hours after food. Swallow the capsules whole.
  • If you are taking azithromycin tablets or oral liquid, you may take your doses with food.
  • Do not take indigestion remedies during the 2 hours before or after you take azithromycin as they will affect the way this medicine works.
  • Keep taking this antibiotic until the course is finished, unless you are told to stop. If you stop taking this antibiotic too soon your infection is likely to return and could be more difficult to treat.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.

Getting the most from your treatment

  • If you still feel unwell after completing your course of this antibiotic, make another appointment to see your doctor.
  • Some people develop thrush (redness and itching in the mouth or vagina) after taking a course of antibiotics. If you think you have thrush speak with your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
  • If you are using oral combined hormonal contraception (the 'pill'), additional contraceptive precautions such as condoms are not required during a course of this antibiotic unless you are sick or have diarrhoea. If you need further advice, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking azithromycin.
  • This antibiotic may stop the oral typhoid vaccine from working. If you are having any vaccinations, make sure the person treating you knows that you are taking this medicine.
  • If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with this antibiotic.

Can azithromycin cause problems?

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Common side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who take this medicine What can I do if I experience this
Feeling or being sick, stomach ache, wind, and indigestion Eat little and often and stick to simple or bland foods. Taking azithromycin two hours after food may help
Diarrhoea Drink plenty of water to replace lost fluids. If the diarrhoea is severe, see your doctor
Other possible side-effects include: dizziness, headache, sleepiness, changes in the way things taste or smell, loss of appetite, and joint pain These are usually mild and disappear after you finish your treatment

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

How to store azithromycin

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
  • Do not use azithromycin after the expiry date shown on the label.