What is clarithromycin?

By

Generic Name: Clarithromycin Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.

Know the basics

What is clarithromycin used for?

Clarithromycin is used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections. This medication can also be used in combination with anti-ulcer medications to treat certain types of stomach ulcers. It may also be used to prevent certain bacterial infections. Clarithromycin is known as a macrolide antibiotic. It works by stopping the growth of bacteria.

This antibiotic treats only bacterial infections. It will not work for viral infections (such as common cold, flu). Unnecessary use or misuse of any antibiotic can lead to its decreased effectiveness.

How should I take clarithromycin?

Take this medication by mouth with or without food as directed by your doctor, usually every 12 hours. If stomach upset occurs, you may take it with food or milk.

Shake the bottle well before each dose. Carefully measure the dose using a special measuring device/spoon. Do not use a household spoon because you may not get the correct dose.

Antibiotics work best when the amount of medicine in your body is kept at a constant level. Therefore, take this drug at evenly spaced intervals. To help you remember, take it at the same time(s) each day.

The dosage and length of treatment are based on your medical condition and response to treatment. In children, the dosage may also be based on weight.

If you are using this medication to treat an infection, continue to take this medication until the full prescribed amount is finished, even if symptoms disappear after a few days. Stopping the medication too early may result in a return of the infection. Tell your doctor if your condition persists or worsens.

If you are taking this medication to prevent certain bacterial infections, take it exactly as directed by your doctor. Do not stop taking the medication without your doctor’s approval. Tell your doctor if you develop signs of infection such as fever or night sweats.

How do I store clarithromycin?

Clarithromycin is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store clarithromycin in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of clarithromycin that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush clarithromycin down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Know the precautions & warnings

What should I know before using clarithromycin?

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.

Pediatric

Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of clarithromycin to treat bacterial infections in children younger than 6 months of age, and to prevent and treat Mycobacterium avium complex in children younger than 20 months of age. Safety and efficacy have not been established in these age groups.

Geriatric

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of clarithromycin in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have severe kidney problems and heart rhythm problems, which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving clarithromycin.

Is it safe to take clarithromycin during pregnancy or breast-feeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using this medication during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication. This medication is pregnancy risk category C according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk,
  • B=No risk in some studies,
  • C=There may be some risk,
  • D=Positive evidence of risk,
  • X=Contraindicated,
  • N=Unknown.

Know the side effects

What are the side effects of clarithromycin?

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • Headache with chest pain and severe dizziness, fast or pounding heartbeats, shortness of breath, fainting;
  • Diarrhea that is watery or bloody;
  • Fever, swollen glands, body aches, flu symptoms, new or worsening cough;
  • Skin rash, easy bruising or bleeding, severe tingling, numbness, pain, muscle weakness;
  • Confusion, vomiting, swelling, rapid weight gain, urinating less than usual or not at all;
  • Problems with your hearing; 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.

Clarithromycin may also cause severe liver symptoms. Stop taking clarithromycin and call your doctor at once if you have any of these liver symptoms:

  • Low fever, itching;
  • Nausea, upper stomach pain, loss of appetite;
  • Dark urine, clay colored stools; or
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Less serious side effects may include:

  • Upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea;
  • Unusual or unpleasant taste in your mouth;
  • Tooth discoloration;
  • Headache;
  • Mild itching or rash; or
  • Vaginal itching or discharge.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Know the interactions

What drugs may interact with clarithromycin?

Clarithromycin may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, non-prescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.

  • Alfuzosin, Amifampridine, Astemizole, Bepridil, Cisapride, Colchicine, Conivaptan, Dihydroergotamine, Dronedarone, Eletriptan, Eliglustat, Eplerenone, Ergoloid Mesylates, Ergonovine, Ergotamine, Fluconazole, Ivabradine, Ketoconazole, Lomitapide, Lovastatin, Lurasidone, Maraviroc, Mesoridazine, Methylergonovine, Methysergide, Naloxegol, Nelfinavir, Nimodipine, Pimozide, Piperaquine, Posaconazole, Ranolazine, Saquinavir, Silodosin, Simvastatin, Sparfloxacin, Terfenadine, Thioridazine, Tolvaptan, Ziprasidone.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Ado-Trastuzumab Emtansine, Afatinib, Ajmaline, Alprazolam, Amiodarone, Amitriptyline, Amlodipine, Amobarbital, Amprenavir, Anagrelide, Apixaban, Apomorphine, Aprepitant, Aprindine, Aprobarbital, Aripiprazole, Arsenic Trioxide, Artemether, Asenapine, Atazanavir, Atorvastatin, Avanafil ,Axitinib, Azithromycin, Bedaquiline ,Bosutinib, Brentuximab Vedotin, Bretylium, Buserelin, Butabarbital, Butalbital, Cabazitaxel, Cabozantinib, Carbamazepine, Ceritinib, Chloroquine, Chlorpromazine, Cilostazol, Ciprofloxacin, Citalopram, Clomipramine, Clonazepam, Clozapine, Cobicistat, Crizotinib, Cyclobenzaprine, Dabigatran Etexilate, Dabrafenib, Daclatasvir, Dasatinib ,Delamanid, Desipramine, Deslorelin ,Dexamethasone, Digoxin, Diltiazem, Disopyramide, Docetaxel, Dofetilide, Dolasetron, Domperidone, Doxepin, Doxorubicin, Doxorubicin Hydrochloride Liposome, Droperidol, Dutasteride, Ebastine, Efavirenz, Enzalutamide, Eribulin, Erlotinib, Erythromycin, Escitalopram, Eslicarbazepine Acetate, Estazolam, Eszopiclone, Etravirine, Everolimus, Famotidine, Felbamate, Felodipine, Fentanyl, Fingolimod, Flecainide, Fluoxetine, Fluticasone, Formoterol, Foscarnet, Fosphenytoin, Galantamine, Gatifloxacin, Gemifloxacin, Gonadorelin, Goserelin, Granisetron, Halofantrine, Haloperidol, Halothane, Histrelin, Hydrocodone, Hydroquinidine, Ibrutinib, Ibutilide, Idelalisib, Ifosfamide, Iloperidone, Imipramine, Isoflurane, Isradipine, Itraconazole, Ivacaftor, Ixabepilone, Lapatinib, Letrozole, Leuprolide, Levofloxacin, Levomilnacipran, Lopinavir, Lorcainide ,Losartan, Lumefantrine, Macitentan, Mefloquine, Mephobarbital, Methadone, Methohexital, Metronidazole, Midazolam, Mifepristone, Mitotane, Mizolastine, Modafinil, Morphine, Morphine Sulfate , Liposome, Moxifloxacin, Nafarelin, Nafcillin, Nicardipine, Nifedipine, Nilotinib, Nintedanib, Nisoldipine, Norfloxacin, Nortriptyline, Octreotide, Ofloxacin, Olanzapine, Ondansetron, Ospemifene, Oxcarbazepine, Oxycodone, Paliperidone, Paroxetine, Pasireotide, Pazopanib, Pentamidine, Pentobarbital, Perampanel, Perflutren Lipid Microsphere, Perphenazine, Phenobarbital, Phenytoin, Pipamperone, Pirmenol, Pixantrone, Pomalidomide, Ponatinib, Primidone, Probucol, Procainamide, Prochlorperazine, Promethazine, Propafenone, Protriptyline, Quetiapine, Quinidine, Quinine, Regorafenib, Retapamulin, Rifabutin, Rifapentine, Rilpivirine, Risperidone, Ritonavir, Roflumilast, Romidepsin, Ruxolitinib, Salmeterol, Secobarbital, Sertindole, Sevoflurane, Sildenafil, Siltuximab, Simeprevir, Sirolimus, Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Phosphate, Dibasic, Sodium Phosphate, Monobasic, Solifenacin, Sorafenib, Sotalol, Spiramycin, St John’s Wort, Sulfamethoxazole, Sunitinib, Suvorexant, Tacrolimus, Tadalafil, Tamoxifen, Tamsulosin, Telaprevir, Telavancin, Telithromycin, Temsirolimus, Tetrabenazine, Thiopental, Ticagrelor, Tizanidine, Tolterodine, Topotecan, Toremifene, Trabectedin, Tramadol, Trazodone, Triazolam, Trimethoprim, Trimipramine, Triptorelin, Vandetanib, Vardenafil, Vemurafenib, Venlafaxine, Verapamil, Vilanterol, Vilazodone, Vinblastine, Vincristine, Vincristine Sulfate Liposome, Vinflunine, Vinorelbine, Vorapaxar, Voriconazole, Vorinostat, Warfarin, Zaleplon, Zidovudine, Zileuton, Zolpidem.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Acenocoumarol, Alfentanil, Bromocriptine, Conjugated Estrogens, Cyclosporine, Darunavir, Delavirdine, Diazepam, Esterified Estrogens, Estradiol, Estriol, Estrone, Estropipate, Ethinyl Estradiol, Glipizide, Glyburide, Hexobarbital, Indinavir, Linezolid, Methylprednisolone, Nevirapine, Pravastatin, Prednisone, Repaglinide, Rifampin, Rivaroxaban, Tipranavir.

Does food or alcohol interact with clarithromycin?

Clarithromycin may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with clarithromycin?

Clarithromycin may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have, especially:

  • Cholestatic jaundice, history of;
  • Heart rhythm problems (e.g., QT prolongation, Torsades de Pointes, ventricular arrhythmia), history of;
  • Liver disease, history of—Should not be used in patients with a history of these conditions caused by clarithromycin.
  • Decreased kidney function;
  • Porphyria (enzyme problem), history of—Clarithromycin together with ranitidine bismuth citrate should not be used in patients with these conditions.
  • Diarrhea;
  • Heart disease;
  • Liver disease;
  • Myasthenia gravis (severe muscle weakness)—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
  • Hypokalemia (low potassium in the blood), uncorrected;
  • Hypomagnesemia (low magnesium in the blood), uncorrected—Should be corrected first before using this medicine.
  • Kidney disease;
  • Liver disease—Clarithromycin together with colchicine should not be used in patients with these conditions.
  • Kidney disease, severe—Use with caution. The effects may be increased because of slower removal of the medicine from the body.

Understand the dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist before using this medication.

What is the dose of Clarithromycin for an adult?

Usual Adult Dose for Tonsillitis/Pharyngitis

Immediate-release: 250 mg orally every 12 hours for 10 days

Usual Adult Dose for Sinusitis

Immediate-release: 500 mg orally every 12 hours for 14 days

Extended-release: 1000 mg orally every 24 hours for 14 days

Usual Adult Dose for Bronchitis

Immediate-release:

  • Due to H influenzae: 500 mg orally every 12 hours for 7 to 14 days
  • Due to H parainfluenzae: 500 mg orally every 12 hours for 7 days
  • Due to M catarrhalis or S pneumoniae: 250 mg orally every 12 hours for 7 to 14 days

Extended-release: 1000 mg orally every 24 hours for 7 days

Usual Adult Dose for Pneumonia

Immediate-release:

  • Due to H influenzae: 250 mg orally every 12 hours for 7 days
  • Due to S pneumoniae or Chlamydophila pneumoniae: 250 mg orally every 12 hours for 7 to 14 days

Extended-release: 1000 mg orally every 24 hours for 7 days

Usual Adult Dose for Mycoplasma Pneumonia

Immediate-release: 250 mg orally every 12 hours for 7 to 14 days

Extended-release: 1000 mg orally every 24 hours for 7 days

Usual Adult Dose for Skin and Structure Infection

Immediate-release: 250 mg orally every 12 hours for 7 to 14 days

What is the dose of Clarithromycin for a child?

Usual Pediatric Dose for Tonsillitis/Pharyngitis

Immediate-release: 6 months or older: 7.5 mg/kg orally every 12 hours for 10 days

Usual Pediatric Dose for Sinusitis

Immediate-release: 6 months or older: 7.5 mg/kg orally every 12 hours for 10 days

Usual Pediatric Dose for Mycoplasma Pneumonia

Immediate-release: 6 months or older: 7.5 mg/kg orally every 12 hours for 10 days

Usual Pediatric Dose for Pneumonia

Immediate-release: 6 months or older: 7.5 mg/kg orally every 12 hours for 10 days

Usual Pediatric Dose for Otitis Media

Immediate-release: 6 months or older: 7.5 mg/kg orally every 12 hours for 10 days

Usual Pediatric Dose for Skin and Structure Infection

Immediate-release: 6 months or older: 7.5 mg/kg orally every 12 hours for 10 days

Usual Pediatric Dose for Mycobacterium avium-intracellulare – Prophylaxis

Immediate-release: 20 months or older: 7.5 mg/kg orally twice a day

Maximum dose: 500 mg/dose

How is clarithromycin available?

Clarithromycin is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

Tablet 250 mg; 500 mg

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

Symptoms of overdose may include the following:

  • Stomach pain;
  • Nausea;
  • Vomiting;
  • Diarrhea.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of clarithromycin, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

Want to live your best life?
Get the Hello Doktor Daily newsletter for health tips, wellness updates and more.
You might also like