Zithromax and its Side Effects

Zithromax and its Side Effects

Zithromax: A Comprehensive Guide and its Side Effects

What is Zithromax?
Azithromycin is a common antibiotic. It is also known as Zithromax or Z-pak. It is part of the class of antibiotics called macrolides. It works by causing bacteria to not make proteins so they are unable to grow. Some common uses of this antibiotic are for ear infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, some sexually transmitted infections, pneumonia, strep throat, and skin infections. Other uses are infectious diarrhea, Lyme disease, or prevention for heart infection following dental or other procedures. The medication is commonly prescribed as having a higher dose on day 1 and then decreasing the dose for the next 4 days. This type of dosing is what is
commonly known as a z-pak. This may be covered by your insurance. If it is not, on GoodRx you can get the prescription for about $10.

How does Zithromax work?
Some medications need to be adjusted if you have kidney or liver disease. However, azithromycin does not need to be adjusted for either kidney or liver disease. This makes this antibiotic very useful for patients who cannot tolerate other antibiotics. Additionally, it is safe to use in patients who are allergic to penicillin-based antibiotics. Zithromax is also safe to use in children, just in smaller doses than in adults. Zithromax can be administered in a tablet form, liquid form, or in an IV infusion. The tablet form can be taken with or without food but avoid taking it with antacids, like Tums.

Common Side Effects of Zithromax
The most common side effects associated with Zithromax are abdominal pain/discomfort, diarrhea, and nausea. Adverse reactions are associated with all medications. Not everyone will develop an adverse reaction to azithromycin and benefits vs risks of the medication should be discussed with your provider. One adverse effect of Zithromax is that it can affect the electrical conduction of the heart, more commonly in those with older patients with heart disease or if taking other medications that have a similar effect. C. difficile infection, an overgrowth of bacteria in the GI tract is a possibility when taking azithromycin. Hepatitis is also a possible adverse effect of this medication since it is processed by the liver. Hearing loss or ringing in the ears is a possible adverse reaction but this usually resolves when the medication is stopped.

Possible Adverse Reactions to Zithromax
As with any medication, there is also a risk of an allergic reaction, both immediately or delayed. If you develop a rash (as with other antibiotics), call your doctor immediately. If you develop signs of an allergic reaction, such as face swelling, hives, or throat closing, call 911 or go to the emergency room.


  • Zithromax is a common antibiotic, also known as Azithromycin or Z-pak.
  • It is part of the macrolides class of antibiotics and works by inhibiting bacteria growth.
  • Zithromax is used to treat various infections and does not need to be adjusted for kidney or liver disease.
  • The most common side effects of Zithromax are abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nausea.
  • Possible adverse reactions include heart electrical conduction changes, C. difficile infection, hepatitis, and hearing loss.
  • There is a risk of both immediate and delayed allergic reactions to Zithromax.

This article reviewed by Dr. Jim Liu, MD and Ms. Deb Dooley, APRN.

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