Clarithromycin is used to treat certain bacterial infections, such as pneumonia (a lung infection), bronchitis (infection of the tubes leading to the lungs), and infections of the ears, sinuses, skin, and throat. It also is used to treat and prevent disseminated Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) infection [a type of lung infection that often affects people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)]. It is used in combination with other medications to eliminate H. pylori, a bacterium that causes ulcers. Clarithromycin is in a class of medications called macrolide antibiotics. It works by stopping the growth of bacteria. Antibiotics will not kill viruses that can cause colds, flu, or other infections.
Clarithromycin comes as a tablet, an extended-release (long-acting) tablet, and a suspension (liquid) to take by mouth. The regular tablet and liquid are usually taken with or without food every 12 hours (twice a day) for 7 to 14 days. The long-acting tablet is usually taken with food every 24 hours (once a day) for 7 to 14 days. Your doctor may tell you to take clarithromycin for a longer time depending on your condition. Take clarithromycin at around the same time(s) every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take clarithromycin exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Shake the suspension well before each use to mix the medication evenly.
The tablets should be taken with a full glass of water. Swallow the long-acting tablets whole; do not split, chew, or crush them.
You should begin to feel better during the first few days of treatment with clarithromycin. If your symptoms do not improve or get worse, call your doctor.
Take clarithromycin until you finish the prescription, even if you feel better. If you stop taking clarithromycin too soon, or skip doses, your infection may not be completely treated and the bacteria may become resistant to antibiotics.
Clarithromycin also is used sometimes to treat other types of infections including Lyme disease (an infection that may develop after a person is bitten by a tick), cryptosporidiosis (an infection that causes diarrhea), cat scratch disease (an infection that may develop after a person is bitten or scratched by a cat), Legionnaires' disease, (type of lung infection), and pertussis (whooping cough; a serious infection that can cause severe coughing). It is also sometimes used to prevent heart infection in patients having dental or other procedures. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this medication for your condition.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
change in taste
swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
difficulty breathing or swallowing
peeling or blistering skin
yellowing of the skin or eyes
unusual bleeding or bruising
lack of energy
loss of appetite
pain in the upper right part of the stomach
fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
muscle weakness such as difficulty chewing, talking, or performing daily activities
Clarithromycin may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store the tablets at room temperature and away from light, excess heat, and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Do not refrigerate the suspension. Keep it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture. Throw away any unused suspension after 14 days. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor may order certain lab tests to check your body's response to clarithromycin.
The extended-release tablet does not dissolve in the stomach after swallowing. It slowly releases the medication as it passes through your digestive system. You may notice the tablet coating in the stool. This is normal and does not mean that you did not get the full dose of medication.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Your prescription is probably not refillable. If you still have symptoms of infection after you finish the clarithromycin, call your doctor.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
Last Revised - 10/15/2012
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, 2013. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.