advertisement
Updated 11 February 2013

Erythromycin

Erythromycin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic.

0

Erythromycin is the active ingredient of Adco-Erythromycin, Betamycin, Erymycin AF, Ilosone, Purmycin, Spectrasone, Xeramel, Erythrocin IV, Eryderm, Ilotycin and Stiemycin.

Erythromycin is also one of multiple active ingredients found in Zineryt (Erythromycin + zinc).

General information

Erythromycin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic effective in the treatment of upper and lower respiratory tract infections, uncomplicated skin and soft tissue infections, middle-ear infections and sexually transmitted diseases caused by susceptible organisms.

It is commonly used as an alternative in people allergic to penicillin and related antibiotics.

It is important to note that this medication is only effective against bacterial infections - if your infection is the result of a viral or fungal infection, it will be ineffective.

Antibiotic resistance - when bacteria develop the ability to defend themselves against the effect of an antibiotic - occurs frequently with many antibiotics. The most common causes of this are when patients do not complete the prescribed course in full, allowing bacteria to recover from treatment, and by using antibiotics for non-bacterial infections such as cold and flu.

Erythromycin should best be taken one hour before or two hours after a meal. It may however cause nausea, diarrhoea and stomach cramps, and in this case the antibiotic should be taken with meals.

Erythromycin is commonly used as a topical solution for the treatment of acne.

How does erythromycin work?

Erythromycin functions by inhibiting bacterial protein synthesis - it thus prevents bacteria to produce specific proteins essential for their survival.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 4

Available as: erythromycin is available as capsules, suspension, syrup, topical solutions and as injection

What does it do? Erythromycin has an antibiotic effect

Overdose risk: low

Dependence risk: low

Is erythromycin available as a generic ? yes

Is erythromycin available on prescription only? yes

User information

Onset of effect: it may take a few days for the full beneficial effect to be reached.

Duration of action: up to 12 hours.

Dietary advice: erythromycin should best be taken one hour before or two hours after a meal.

Stopping this medicine: do not stop taking this medication until you have finished the course as prescribed by your doctor - infection may recur with premature discontinuation.

Prolonged use: There is a slim risk of liver damage during prolonged use of the drug; periodic liver function tests are advised.

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have a liver disease
  • you have heart rhythm disorders
  • if you are allergic to any other antibiotics
  • if you are taking other medication

Pregnancy: avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.

Breastfeeding: avoid. This medication is passed through breast milk and may affect your baby adversely. Consult your doctor before use.

Porphyria: avoid. This medication may cause serious adverse effects. Consult your doctor before use.

Infants and children: this medication is safe for use in children at the recommended dose.

The elderly: no special precautions need to be taken.

Driving and hazardous work: no special precautions need to be taken.

Alcohol: no special precautions need to be taken.

Possible side effects

Side effect

Frequency

Consult your doctor

Common

Rare

Only if severe

In all cases

stomach pain

x

x

nausea/vomiting

x

x

diarrhoea

x

x

hearing loss

x

x

dizziness

x

x

swelling of lips/ face and neck

x

x

difficulty speaking

x

x

difficulty breathing

x

x

hives, itch, rash

x

x

fever

x

x

heart rhythm disturbance

x

x

yellowish discoloration of skin or eyes

x

x

Interactions

Drug interactions

alfentanil

increased risk of erythromycin toxicity

felodipine

increased risk of felodipine toxicity

cimetidine

increased risk of erythromycin toxicity or even hearing loss

ciclosporin

increased risk of ciclosporin toxicity

bromocriptine, cabergolide

increased risk of bromocriptine/cabergolide toxicity

ergot alkaloids

ergotism is possible

statin cholesterol lowering drugs

possibility muscle pain and spasms

antacids containing magnesium and aluminium

decreased effect of azithromycin

warfarin

increased risk of warfarin toxicity

carbamazepine

increased risk of carbamazepine toxicity

terfenadine

increased risk of cardiac toxicity

digoxin

increased risk of digoxin toxicity

oral contraceptives

decreased efficacy of the pill

theophylline

increased risk of theophylline toxicity

Disease interactions

Avoid taking erythromycin if you have a liver disease, a heart condition, or if you are allergic to other antibiotics.

Overdose action

A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose, seek emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage

Adults: 250 - 500mg every 6 hours with a maximum daily dose of 4 000mg.

Children: 10mg/kg/dose every 6 hours with a maximum daily dose of 1 000mg.

Interesting fact

The first marketed erythromycin was called Ilosone after the Philippine region of Iloilo where it was originally collected from.

 
More in Medical
Tretinoin
advertisement

Get a quote

advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Live healthier

Vitamin wise »

Vitamins for HIV What to eat for vitamin B? Cut down on vitamins

Get your vitamins right

Find out which vitamin to use for which condition. Ask our Vitamin expert.

Yoga »

Exercise time? Yoga mats matter Yoga and sleep

What yoga can do for you

Yoga is a stress-buster, but it also helps with anxiety, depression, insomnia, back pain and other ills.