Erythromycin is an antibiotic used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections. This antibiotic only treats bacterial infections. It will not work for viral infections (e.g., common cold, flu). These medicines may also be used to treat Legionnaires' disease and for other problems as determined by your doctor.
Take erythromycin exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.
You may take erythromycin with or without food.
Do not crush, chew, break, or open an erythromycin tablet or capsule. Swallow it whole.
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to erythromycin: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:
- severe dizziness, fainting, fast or pounding heartbeats;
- diarrhea that is watery or bloody;
- hearing problems;
- vomiting or fussiness after eating (in a child taking erythromycin);
- nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or
- severe skin reaction -- fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling.
Less serious erythromycin side effects may include:
- mild nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach pain;
- dizziness, headache, feeling tired;
- vaginal itching or discharge; or
- mild itching or skin rash.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur.
Before you take erythromycin, tell your doctor if you have liver disease, myasthenia gravis, a heart rhythm disorder, a history of Long QT syndrome, or low levels of potassium or magnesium in your blood.
Antibiotic medicines can cause diarrhea, which may be a sign of a new infection. If you have diarrhea that is watery or bloody, stop taking erythromycin and call your doctor. Do not use anti-diarrhea medicine unless your doctor tells you to.
Many drugs can interact with erythromycin. Below is just a partial list. Tell your doctor if you are using:
- alfentanil (Alfenta);
- bromocriptine (Parlodel);
- cilostazol (Pletal);
- colchicine (Colcrys);
- cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Gengraf, Neoral);
- digoxin (Lanoxin);
- methylprednisolone (Medrol);
- sildenafil (Viagra);
- tacrolimus (Prograf);
- theophylline (Elixophyllin, Theo-24, Theochron, Uniphyl);
- vinblastine (Velban);
- alprazolam (Xanax) or triazolam (Halcion);
- a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven);
- carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol), phenytoin (Dilantin), or valproic acid (Depakene, Stavzor);
- atorvastatin (Lipitor, Caduet), lovastatin (Mevacor, Altoprev, Advicor), or simvastatin (Zocor, Simcor, Vytorin);
- heart or blood pressure medicine such as amlodipine (Norvasc, Caduet, Exforge, Lotrel, Tekamlo, Tribenzor, Twynsta, Amturnide), diltiazem (Cardizem, Cartia, Dilacor, Diltia, Diltzac, Taztia, Tiazac), or verapamil (Calan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan);
- a heart rhythm medication such as amiodarone (Cordarone, Pacerone), disopyramide (Norpace), dofetilide (Tikosyn), dronedarone (Multaq), flecainide (Tambocor), ibutilide (Corvert), mexiletine (Mexitil), procainamide (Procan, Pronestyl), propafenone, (Rythmol), quinidine (Quin-G), sotalol (Betapace), and others; or
- any other antibiotics.
This list is not complete and there are many other drugs that can interact with erythromycin.
If you miss a dose, take as soon as remembered; do not take if it is almost time for the next dose, instead, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not "double-up" the dose to catch up.
Store at room temperature between 59 and 86 degrees F (between 15 and 30 degrees C) away from moisture and sunlight. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep away from children and pets.