Azithromycin is an antibiotic used in the treatment of various infections, including chlamydia. Azithromycin is a type of antibiotic known as a macrolide. It works by inhibiting the growth and reproduction of bacteria and causing them to die off.
Azithromycin has been shown to cure chlamydia infection in 97% of cases. If your symptoms persist after you have completed treatment, it is important to see your doctor who may need to test you for chlamydia again. As with all antibiotics, bacteria can develop resistance, which may mean the treatment does not work as well. You may require a different antibiotic if the initial treatment has not worked.
Chlamydia is readily passed on through sexual contact with an infected partner and can affect the vagina, rectum and/or pharynx (throat). It can be asymptomatic in up to 90% of women and 50% of men. Symptoms in men include urethral discharge (discharge from the penis), dysuria (pain on passing urine) and painful testicles. Symptoms in women include an increase or change in vaginal discharge, abdominal pain, dyspareunia (pain during sex) and unscheduled vaginal bleeding (e.g. bleeding after sex, or between periods).
Anyone who has had unprotected sex, including oral or anal, should get tested for chlamydia. It's recommended to get tested for chlamydia, and other STIs, each time you change partners.
If you have symptoms, it is important to not only get tested for chlamydia, but for other STIs which may be the cause for your symptoms.
Chlamydia is easily cured with antibiotics. In 97–98% of cases, the infection will be cured with the first course of treatment. Very rarely, antibiotic therapy may not work and symptoms of chlamydia can return. However, most people who get another chlamydia infection after treatment have been reinfected by a partner, or the medication was not taken correctly. To reduce the chance of treatment failure, you should follow the doctor’s instructions exactly and complete the course of treatment. You should also ensure sexual partners are tested and treated, and abstain from sexual contact until you and your partner(s) have completed treatment. Using barrier contraception (condoms) is one of the most effective ways to protect against catching chlamydia.
You should take Azithromycin according to the prescribing doctor’s instructions. The usual dose of Azithromycin for treatment of chlamydia is 1g in a single dose. This may involve taking four 250mg tablets, or two 500mg tablets.
Each tablet should be swallowed whole with a glass of water and should be taken at least one hour before, or two hours after, eating food.
The usual dose of Azithromycin for treatment of chlamydia is 1g in a single dose. This may involve taking four 250mg tablets, or two 500mg tablets.
Common side effects of Azithromycin include:
Serious side effects:
Other side effects:
If you experience any of the following side effects, seek advice from your doctor as soon as possible:
This is not an exhaustive list of side effects, please check the package insert for more information.
You should inform the prescribing doctor if you are taking, have taken or are planning on taking any other medications, including over the counter (non-prescription) medications, vitamins, herbal remedies and recreational drugs.
Azithromycin may interact with other medications. It is particularly important you tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following:
This is not an exhaustive list.
Alcohol does not reduce the effectiveness of treatment, but it can cause dehydration, compromise your liver function and cause side effects. Therefore you should avoid drinking alcohol when taking Azithromycin.
Existing research suggests that Azithromycin is safe to take during pregnancy and will not result in fetal abnormalities or adverse outcomes. If you are pregnant, it is always worth checking that no new research has been undertaken causing this advice to be changed.
Azithromycin is not known to be harmful during pregnancy, and is often prescribed to pregnant women for the treatment of chlamydia. However if you are pregnant, there is a chance you may be pregnant, or you plan on becoming pregnant you should disclose this to the prescribing doctor.
Aciclovir is passed into the breast milk of breastfeeding women. It is not thought to be harmful to the infant, however if you are breastfeeding and require Azithromycin, it is important to disclose this to the prescribing doctor.
You and your partner(s) should avoid sexual contact until you have completed treatment for chlamydia. It is also important for your partner(s) to be tested and treated if required to avoid re-infection.
If you have been prescribed a single 1g dose of Azithromycin, you should avoid sexual contact for 1 week after taking the tablet(s).
In 2008, the MHRA announced that Azithromycin may be made available over the counter without prescription as Clamelle. This is only available in selected pharmacies, and is only for use for those who are asymptomatic but who have tested positive for chlamydia, or who have a partner who has tested positive for chlamydia.
It is safe to order Azithromycin from a registered and regulated pharmacy, including an online pharmacy. In the UK, you should look for:
Zithromax is a brand of Azithromycin available on prescription for the treatment of chlamydia and other bacterial infections.