Azithromycin is an antibiotic that is used to treat a range of bacterial infections. These include chest, skin and sinus infections, lyme disease and sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia. Azithromycin is also a standby treatment for traveller’s diarrhoea, although this is off-label use.
Azithromycin is an antibiotic that belongs to the macrolide family. When you take azithromycin, it stops bacteria from creating proteins they need to stay alive. This kills off the bacteria and gives your immune system time to clear them from your body.
Azithromycin reduces the symptoms of traveller’s diarrhoea by killing off the bacteria which may be causing it. This helps you recover from traveller’s diarrhoea faster.
Azithromycin will usually start to make you feel better after 24 hours. You should complete the 72 hour course, which is typically prescribed by a doctor, for traveller’s diarrhoea to be cleared from your system.
Bacteria are the most common cause of traveller’s diarrhoea. As azithromycin is an antibiotic, it is effective for treating traveller’s diarrhoea which may be caused by bacteria. You can have azithromycin as a standby treatment if you are travelling to any high-risk areas including South Asia and South East Asia. Start taking azithromycin when you first notice symptoms of traveller’s diarrhoea. Washing your hands before preparing or eating food and drinking clean, preferably bottled, water while abroad will reduce your chances of getting traveller’s diarrhoea.
Two tablets, one daily for three days
|Type of Medicine||
Inhibits bacterial synthesis; prevents bacteria from replicating
4 or 8 tablets
From £3.42 per tablet
Can include diarrhoea, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, headache
Azithromycin dihydrate is the active ingredient in azithromycin tablets.
Inactive ingredients in azithromycin tablets include: dibasic calcium phosphate anhydrous, pregelatinized starch, sodium croscarmellose, magnesium stearate, sodium lauryl sulfate, hypromellose, lactose, titanium dioxide, triacetin and D&C Red #30 aluminum lake.
Please Note: Inactive ingredients may vary between different brands of generic azithromycin. Please check the information leaflet provided for further details.
Always take azithromycin as your doctor has prescribed. How you take azithromycin will depend on the type and severity of the infection you are being treated for. For traveller’s diarrhoea, you may be instructed to take one 500 mg tablet each day for three days or four 250 mg tablets as a single dose.
A typical course for azithromycin is one 500 mg tablet each day for three days. Your doctor may prescribe more or less than this depending on the risk of traveller’s diarrhoea and your personal medical circumstances.
Azithromycin tablets should not be crushed or split before taking it. They should not be chewed either. Azithromycin is available in liquid form if you have difficulty swallowing tablets, or if you need to give the medicine to a child.
Azithromycin usually comes as a pack of four 250 mg tablets which is taken as a single dose, or a pack of three 500 mg tablets where you take one tablet each day. Always follow the instructions given by your doctor on how to take azithromycin, as the length of the treatment course depends on the type and severity of infection you are being treated for. You must complete the course of azithromycin tablets you are prescribed, even if you feel better, to prevent recurrent infections and possible resistance.
Common side effects of azithromycin may include:
If you experience any of the following serious side effects, you should seek immediate medical help:
If taking azithromycin is making you feel sick, avoid eating foods that are high in fat, oily or spicy. Make sure you still eat regular meals even if your appetite is lacking. If you experience headaches, drink plenty of water and take a painkiller if necessary. Sit or lie down if you feel dizzy. Try to rest to give your body time to allow azithromycin to work.
Do not take azithromycin if you are allergic to it or any other macrolide antibiotics. This includes if you’ve had an allergic reaction to azithromycin in the past or experienced diarrhoea after taking it. Azithromycin is not suitable for people with heart, liver or kidney problems, people with myasthenia gravis or diabetics.
Azithromycin might interfere with other medicines. Let your doctor know if you are taking:
Avoid drinking alcohol while you are taking azithromycin, as it can make you feel sleepy or dizzy.
You should not take azithromycin if you are pregnant or planning a baby. For further advice, discuss your options with your doctor.
Rehydration salts can be used to treat dehydration as a result of traveller’s diarrhoea. Antimotility agents like loperamide and bismuth subsalicylate are over the counter treatments which can help reduce the symptoms of traveller’s diarrhoea. These medicines should be used with caution and are not suitable for people with inflammatory bowel disease or if you have a fever.
Yes, azithromycin is an antibiotic belonging to the macrolide family.
You should follow the instructions prescribed by your doctor on how to take azithromycin. You must complete the course even if you feel better. If you don’t take the full course as prescribed, the bacteria that caused your traveller’s diarrhoea might still be present. This could cause symptoms to restart or the bacteria may become resistant to the antibiotic and you will need a different treatment.
Azithromycin can cure traveller’s diarrhoea caused by bacteria. In some cases, azithromycin can be used to prevent recurring chest infections. You should only use azithromycin in this way if you know you are susceptible to infections.
You’ll know that azithromycin is working because your traveller’s diarrhoea will clear up and you’ll stop having symptoms.