- Bacterial Infections 101 Pictures Slideshow
- Take the Tummy Trouble Quiz
- Hepatitis C Slideshow Pictures
- What is clarithromycin, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for clarithromycin?
- Is clarithromycin available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for clarithromycin?
- What are the uses for clarithromycin?
- What are the side effects of clarithromycin?
- What is the dosage for clarithromycin?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with clarithromycin?
- Is clarithromycin safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about clarithromycin?
What is clarithromycin, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Clarithromycin is a semi-synthetic macrolide antibiotic chemically related to erythromycin and azithromycin (Zithromax). It is effective against a wide variety of bacteria, such as Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, and mycobacterium avium, and many others. Like all macrolide antibiotics, clarithromycin prevents bacteria from growing by interfering with their ability to make proteins. Due to the differences in the way proteins are made in bacteria and humans, the macrolide antibiotics do not interfere with production of proteins in humans. The FDA approved clarithromycin in October 1991.
What are the uses for clarithromycin?
Clarithromycin is effective against susceptible bacteria causing the following infections:
It also is used in treating infections caused by mycobacterium avium, a bacterium closely related to the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. Clarithromycin has been used in combination with omeprazole/sodium bicarbonate (Prilosec) in treating H. Pylori that causes stomach ulcers.
What are the side effects of clarithromycin?
Clarithromycin generally is well tolerated, and side effects usually are mild and transient. Common side effects of clarithromycin are:
Other important side effects which are rare, but serious include:
Clarithromycin should be avoided by patients known to be allergic to clarithromycin or other chemically-related macrolide antibiotics, such as erythromycin. Treatment with clarithromycin and other antibiotics can alter the normal bacteria flora of the colon and permit overgrowth of C. difficile, a bacterium responsible for pseudomembranous colitis. Patients who develop pseudomembranous colitis as a result of antibiotics treatment may experience diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and sometimes even shock.
Quick GuideSymptoms of Mono: Infectious Mononucleosis Treatment
What is the dosage for clarithromycin?
Clarithromycin may be taken with or without food. For most infections the recommended adult dose is 250-500 mg of immediate release tablets twice daily or 1000 mg of extended release tablets once daily for 7-14 days.
Which drugs or supplements interact with clarithromycin?
Clarithromycin interacts with several drugs because it reduces the activity of liver enzymes that breakdown many drugs. This leads to increased blood levels and side effects from the affected drugs. Examples of such interactions include
- olchicine (Colcrys),
- simvastatin (Zocor),
- lovastatin (Mevacor),
- atorvastatin (Lipitor),
- verapamil (Calan),
- amlodipine (Norvasc), and
- diltiazem (Carizem).
Clarithromycin increases blood levels of sildenafil (Viagra, Revatio), tadalafil (Cialis, Adcirca), vardenafil (Levitra), theophylline and carbamazepine (Tegretol), thereby increasing side effects of these drugs.
The occurrence of abnormal heart beats may increase when clarithromycin is combined with drugs that affect heart beat (for example, amiodarone [Coradone], quinidine [Quinidine Gluconate, Quinidine Sulfate], and disopyramide).
Is clarithromycin safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
Safe use of clarithromycin in pregnancy has not been established. There are no adequate studies in pregnant women.
Clarithromycin is excreted in breast milk.
What else should I know about clarithromycin?
What preparations of clarithromycin are available?
Tablets (immediate or extended release): 250 and 500 mg. Suspension: 125 or 250 mg per 5 ml (teaspoonful).
How should I keep clarithromycin stored?
Tablets and suspension should be stored at room temperature 15 -30 C (59-86 F) in a tightly closed container. The oral suspension should not be refrigerated after mixing and should be used within 14 days.
Reference: FDA Prescribing Information
Quick GuideSymptoms of Mono: Infectious Mononucleosis Treatment
Clarithromycin (Biaxin, Biaxin XL) is an antibiotic drug prescribed for the treatment of a large variety of bacterium. Clarithromycin is used to treat infections of the middle ear, tonsils, throat, larynx, bronchioles, lungs, and skin. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precautions, and pregnancy safety information should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
HIV & AIDS Quiz: HIV Testing & Symptoms
Now, more than ever, you should know about HIV/AIDS, especially its causes, symptoms treatments, and complications. Take the...
Ear Infection Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Is it possible to prevent ear infections? Take the Ear Infection (Otitis Media) Quiz to learn the risks, causes, symptoms and...
What happens within the body when a person develops bronchitis? Take this quick quiz to learn the causes, symptoms, treatments,...
Strep (Streptococcal) Throat Infection Quiz: Test Your Infectious Disease IQ
Take the Strep (Streptococcal) Throat Infection Quiz to learn about causes, symptoms, treatments, prevention methods, diagnosis,...
Picture of Fixed Drug Eruption
A large red-violet plaque on the arm of a child. See a picture of Fixed Drug Eruption and learn more about the health topic....
Related Disease Conditions
Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)
Sinus infection (sinusitis) is caused by allergies, infection, and chemicals or other irritants of sinuses. Signs and symptoms...
Laryngitis is an inflammation of the voice box (vocal cords). The most common cause of acute laryngitis is infection, which...
Peptic Ulcer (Stomach Ulcer)
Peptic or stomach ulcers are ulcers are an ulcer in the lining of the stomach, duodenum, or esophagus. Ulcer formation is related...
Tonsillitis is a contagious infection with symptoms such as: Bad...
H. pylori (Helicobacter Pylori ) Infection
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacteria that causes chronic inflammation (gastritis) of the inner lining of the stomach,...
Pneumonia is inflammation of the lungs caused by fungi, bacteria, or viruses. Symptoms and signs include cough, fever, shortness...
Bronchitis is inflammation of the airways in the lung. Acute bronchitis is is short in duration (10 to 20 days) in comparison...
Strep throat is a bacterial infection of the throat. Signs and symptoms of strep throat include headache, nausea,...
Ear Infection (Otitis Media)
Middle ear infection or inflammation (otitis media) is inflammation of the middle ear. There are two forms of this type of ear...
Swimmer's ear (external otitis) is an infection of the skin that covers the outer ear canal. Causes of swimmer's ear include...
Scarlet Fever (Scarlatina)
Scarlet fever, a bacterial infection caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria, causes symptoms and signs such as fever, rash with...
Whooping Cough (Pertussis)
Whooping cough (pertussis) is highly contagious respiratory infection that is caused by the bacteria Bordetella pertussis. There...
Is H. pylori Contagious? Symptoms and Tests
H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori) infection: Is it contagious? H. pylori infection is caused by fecal contamination in either food...
Legionellosis is an infection caused by the Legionella pneumophila bacterium. There are two forms of legionellosis: Pontiac fever...
Mycobacterium marinum (M. marinum) is bacteria found in fresh and saltwater that can infect the skin through cuts or scrapes,...
Treatment & Diagnosis
- HIV-AIDS FAQs
- Strep Streptococcal Throat Infection FAQs
- Ear Infection FAQs
- Bronchitis FAQs
- Antibiotics 101
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Medication Disposal - What to Do with Old or Unusable Medication
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- Tonsils and Adenoids, Parent's Perspective
- Antibiotics 101 - Audio Podcast
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
- Study: Longer-Term Antibiotics Won't Ease 'Chronic Lyme Disease'
- Widely Used Antibiotics May Raise Heart Risks, Review Finds
- Study Sees No Link Between Antibiotics in Early Pregnancy and Birth Defects
- Smog Linked to Organ Rejection, Deaths in Lung Transplant Patients
- Antibiotic Might Raise Heart Risks for Some
- Certain Antibiotics Tied to Blood Sugar Swings in Diabetics
- Statins Plus Certain Antibiotics May Set Off Toxic Reaction: Study
- Antibiotic Linked to Heart Problems in COPD Patients
- Two Antibiotics Linked to Liver Injury in Elderly
- FDA Warns of Zocor Risk to Muscles
Daily Health News
Infectious Disease Resources
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Top clarithromycin Related ArticlesComplete List
Adenoids and Tonsils
Tonsillitis is a contagious infection with symptoms such as:
- Bad breath
- Coughing up blood
Tonsillitis can be caused acute infection of the tonsils, and several types of bacteria or viruses (for example, strep throat or mononucleosis), chronic tonsillitis, and peritonsillar abscess. Treatment of tonsillitis and adenoids include antibiotics and other medications depending on the cause, symptom relief, and in some cases, surgery (tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy ).
Bronchitis is inflammation of the airways in the lung. Acute bronchitis is is short in duration (10 to 20 days) in comparison with chronic bronchitis, which lasts for months to years. Causes of acute bronchitis include viruses and bacteria, which means it can be contagious. Acute bronchitis caused by environmental factors such as pollution or cigarette smoke is not contagious. Common symptoms for acute bronchitis include
- nasal congestion,
- sore throat,
- muscle aches, and
Acute bronchitis in children also my include runny nose, fever, and chest pain. Treatment for acute bronchitis are OTC pain relievers, cough suppressants (although not recommended in children), and rest. Infrequently antibiotics may be prescribed to treat acute bronchitis.
Bronchitis QuizWhat happens within the body when a person develops bronchitis? Take this quick quiz to learn the causes, symptoms, treatments, and complications of this common respiratory illness.
Middle ear infection or inflammation (otitis media) is inflammation of the middle ear. There are two forms of this type of ear infection, acute and chronic. Acute otitis media is generally short in duration, and chronic otitis media generally lasts several weeks. Seventy-five percent of children in the U.S. suffer from otitis media at some point.
Signs and symptoms in babies, toddlers, and children may:
- Be irritable and pull and tug at their ears
- Be fussy
- Have problems feeding or sleeping
- Complain about pain and fullness in the ear
- Have a fever
- A buildup of pus in the ear
- Have signs and symptoms of an upper respiratory infection
Treatment depends upon the type (chronic or acute).
Ear Infection QuizIs it possible to prevent ear infections? Take the Ear Infection (Otitis Media) Quiz to learn the risks, causes, symptoms and treatments for the common ear infection.
Fixed Drug Eruption PictureA large red-violet plaque on the arm of a child. See a picture of Fixed Drug Eruption and learn more about the health topic.
Helicobacter PyloriHelicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacteria that causes chronic inflammation (gastritis) of the inner lining of the stomach, and also is the most common cause of ulcers worldwide. About 50% of people in the world carries or is infected with H. pylori. Common symptoms of H. pylori infection are occasional abdominal discomfort, bloating, belching or burping, and nausea and vomiting. H. pylori infection is difficult to erdicate, and treatment is with two or more antibiotics.
Laryngitis is an inflammation of the voice box (vocal cords). The most common cause of acute laryngitis is infection, which inflames the vocal cords. Symptoms may vary from degree of laryngitis and age of the person (laryngitis in infants and children is more commonly caused by croup). Common symptoms include
- a "barky" cough,
- a hoarse cough,
- runny nose,
- dry cough, and
- loss of voice.
Chronic laryngitis generally lasts more than three weeks. Causes other than infection include smoking, excess coughing, GERD, and more. Treatment depends on the cause of laryngitis.
Swimmer's ear (external otitis) is an infection of the skin that covers the outer ear canal. Causes of swimmer's ear include excessive water exposure that leads to trapped bacteria in the ear canal. Symptoms include a feeling of fullness in the ear, itching, and ear pain. Chronic swimmer's ear may be caused by
- chronic irritation, and
- other conditions.
Common treatment includes antibiotic ear drops.
Peptic or stomach ulcers are ulcers are an ulcer in the lining of the stomach, duodenum, or esophagus. Ulcer formation is related to H. pylori bacteria in the stomach, use of anti-inflammatory medications, and cigarette smoking. Symptoms of peptic or stomach ulcers include:
- Abdominal burning or hunger pain
- Abdominal discomfort after meals
Treatment for stomach ulcers depends upon the cause.
Pneumonia FactsPneumonia is inflammation of the lungs caused by fungi, bacteria, or viruses. Symptoms and signs include cough, fever, shortness of breath, and chills. Antibiotics treat pneumonia, and the choice of the antibiotic depends upon the cause of the infection.
SinusitisSinus infection (sinusitis) is caused by allergies, infection, and chemicals or other irritants of sinuses. Signs and symptoms are headache, fever, and facial tenderness, pressure, or pain. Treatments of sinus infections are generally with antibiotics and at times, home remedies.
Strep Throat QuizTake the Strep (Streptococcal) Throat Infection Quiz to learn about causes, symptoms, treatments, prevention methods, diagnosis, and complications of this common infectious disease.
Strep Throat (GAS)Strep throat is a bacterial infection of the throat. Signs and symptoms of strep throat include
- sore throat, and
Strep throat symptoms in infants and children are different than in adults. Strep throat is contagious and is generally passed from person-to-person. Treatment for strep throat symptoms include home remedies and OTC medication; however, the only cure for strep throat are antibiotics.