1.      About erythromycin

2.      Key facts

3.      Who can and can’t take erythromycin

4.      How and when to take it

5.      Side effects

6.      How to cope with side effects

7.      Pregnancy and breastfeeding

8.      Cautions with other medicines

9.      Common questions

1. About erythromycin

Erythromycin is an antibiotic.

It’s widely used to treat chest infections, such as pneumonia, skin problems, such as acne and rosacea, dental abscesses, and sexually transmitted infections.

Erythromycin is used in children, often to treat ear infections or chest infections.

The medicine is available on prescription as tablets, capsules, or a liquid that you drink.

It’s also available as a skin solution to treat skin infections like acne. It can be given by injection, but this is usually only done in hospital.

2. Key facts

·         Take erythromycin 2 or 4 times a day as prescribed by your doctor.

·         For most infections, you should feel better within a few days.

·         For skin conditions like acne and rosacea, it may take a couple of months before you see an improvement.

·         The most common side effects of erythromycin are feeling or being sick (nausea or vomiting), stomach cramps and diarrhoea.

·         Drinking alcohol with erythromycin may slightly reduce or delay the medicine’s benefits.

·         Erythromcyin is also called by the brand names Erythrocin, Erythrolar, Erymax, Tiloryth, Rommix, Erythroped A and Erythroped.

3. Who can and can’t take erythromycin

Erythromycin can be taken by adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Erythromycin can be taken by children.

Erythromycin isn’t suitable for certain people. To make sure erythromycin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

·         had an allergic reaction to erythromycin or other antibiotics in the past

·         a rare, inherited blood disorder called porphyria

·         liver or kidney problems

·         had diarrhoea when you’ve taken antibiotics before

·         fast, pounding or irregular heartbeats

·         a sexually transmitted infection called syphilis and you’re pregnant – erythromycin alone may not be able to prevent your baby getting the infection

·         a muscle-weakening illness called myasthenia gravis – erythromycin can make your symptoms worse

4. How and when to take it

The usual dose of erythromycin is 250mg to 1,000mg taken 4 times a day. Sometimes it’s taken twice a day. The dose may be lower for children.

Try to space the doses evenly throughout the day – for example, first thing in the morning, at about midday, late in the afternoon and at bedtime.

Generally, it’s better to take erythromycin with food so it doesn’t upset your stomach.

How to take it

Swallow erythromycin tablets or capsules whole with a drink of water. Do not chew or break them.

There’s a liquid erythromycin for children and people who find it difficult to swallow tablets.

If you or your child are taking erythromycin as a liquid, it’ll usually be made up for you by your pharmacist. The medicine will come with a syringe or spoon to help you take the right amount. If you don’t have a syringe or spoon, ask your pharmacist for one. Do not use a kitchen teaspoon as it will not give the right amount.

What if I forget to take it?

If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember, unless it’s nearly time for your next dose. In this case, just leave out the missed dose and take your next dose as normal.

Never take 2 doses at the same time. Never take an extra dose to make up for a forgotten one.

If you forget doses often, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine.

What if I take too much?

Try to take the correct number of doses each day, leaving at least 4 hours between doses.

Taking an extra dose of erythromycin by accident is unlikely to harm you or your child. It may, however, increase the chance of temporary side effects, such as hearing loss, feeling or being sick and diarrhoea.

Talk to your pharmacist or doctor if you’re worried, or if you or your child accidentally take more than 1 extra dose.

5. Side effects

Like all medicines, erythromycin can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them.

Common side effects

These common side effects of erythromycin happen in more than 1 in 100 people. Keep taking the medicine, but talk to your doctor or pharmacist if these side effects bother you or don’t go away:

·         feeling sick (nausea)

·         being sick (vomiting) and diarrhoea

·         stomach cramps

·         loss of appetite

·         bloating and indigestion

Serious side effects

Serious side effects are rare and happen in less than 1 in 1,000 people.

Call a doctor straight away if you get:

·         chest pains or your heart is beating abnormally

·         skin rash

·         severe stomach pain – this can be a sign of pancreas problems

·         yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes, or pale poo with dark pee – these can be signs of liver or gallbladder problems

·         seizures

·         hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)

·         ringing in the ears, temporary hearing loss, or feeling unsteady on your feet

·         a temperature of 38C and above

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