ANTIBIOTICS - ERYTHROMYCIN (other topics)
Erythromycin, antibiotic drug used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections. These infections include respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia, urinary tract infections, ear and skin infections, gonorrhea, syphilis, rheumatic fever, whooping cough, and diphtheria. The drug is also used in a form applied directly to the skin to treat acne. It works by interfering with the formation of essential proteins in the invading bacteria, preventing their multiplication and growth.
Erythromycin is available by prescription in capsules, tablets, ointment, gel, and various liquids. Dependingon the site of the infection, the drug is taken orally or applied directly to the infected area. Dosages range from 250 to 1000 mg taken every six hours. Children may take most forms of this drug, with dosages determined by body weight. Some forms of this drug should be taken on an empty stomach (one hour before or two hours after a meal). Erythromycin’s effectiveness is usually apparent after three to five days. However, the entire prescribed course of treatment should be completed to avoid recurrence of infection.
Patients with liver disease should not take this drug. It should be used with caution by patients with a history of allergies, impaired kidney function, or abnormal heart rhythm. It is generally safe for use during pregnancy (except in the form known as erythromycin estolate); however, breast-feeding mothers should be aware that this drug appears in breast milk.
Possible side effects include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, or diarrhea. Also seen are skin rash, hives, eye irritation, yellowing of the eyes or skin, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, or temporary hearing loss.
Erythromycin can react adversely with a variety of drugs. These include other antibiotics (including penicillin), blood-thinners, carbamazepine, digoxin, lovastatin, phenytoin, and theophylline. Erythromycin should never be combined with astemizole.
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