Erythromycin capsules, tablets, oral suspension and intravenous injection should be used with caution in:
- People with liver problems
- People with myasthenia gravis (a condition with muscle weakness)
- People with an abnormal heart rhythm on an ECG scan
- People taking certain medicines (see Interactions)
They should not be used in:
- People who are allergic or sensitive to erythromycin
- People taking astemizole, mizolastine or terfenadine (antihistamines used to treat allergies)
- People taking ergotamine or dihydroergotamine (used to treat migraine)
- People taking amisulpride, pimozide or sertindole (used to treat mental health problems)
- People taking cisapride (for stomach problems)
- People taking statins (used to lower cholesterol)
- People taking tolterodine (used to treat incontinence)
- People who are allergic or sensitive to or have had a reaction to any of the ingredients in the medicine
- People with rare hereditary problems of galactose intolerance, the Lapp lactase deficiency or glucose-galactose malabsorption (capsules only as they contain lactose).
Erythromycin gel should be used with caution in:
- People also using other types of skin treatment, exfoliants or medicated soap for acne.
It should not be used in:
- People who are allergic to erythromycin or to any ingredient in the product.
Also see list of precautions and interactions
Store in the original pack in a dry place at or below 25°C. Protect from light.
The pharmacist will have made up your medicine. Check the patient information leaflet for specific information on storage.
Store below 25ºC.
What is it used for?
- Erythromycin is used to treat certain types of bacterial infection which are sensitive to erythromycin.
- It is an antibiotic and is also known as a macrolide antibiotic.
- It is used to kill certain types of bacteria that cause infections.
- In general this drug is used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections in different parts of the body as it is a broad spectrum antibiotic.
- Benefits of being on this drug can include killing or stopping the bacterial growth of sensitive bacteria and clearing up the infection.
Listed below are the typical uses of erythromycin.
- Bacterial infections of the upper respiratory tract, such as tonsillitis, laryngitis, pharyngitis and sinusitis
- Bacterial infections of the lower respiratory tract (chest /lungs) such as bronchitis, bronchiectasis, pneumonia and Legionnaires' disease
- Bacterial infections of the ear such as otitis media, otitis externa and mastoiditis
- Bacterial infections of the skin and soft tissues such as boils and carbuncles, abscesses, pustular acne, cellulitis, impetigo and erysipelas
- Bacterial mouth infections such as gingivitis (gum disease) and Vincent's angina
- Bacterial eye infections such as blepharitis (eyelid infection)
- Bacterial intestinal infections such as cholecystitis and staphylococcal enterocolitis
- Preventative treatment following surgery, burns, rheumatic fever, injury or dental procedures
Other infections including:
- Sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhoea and syphilis
- Osteomyelitis (inflammation of bone due to bacterial infection)
- Urethritis (inflammation of the urethra due to bacterial infection)
- Prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland due to bacterial infection)
- Scarlet fever
- Acne vulgaris (erythromycin gel)
On occasion your doctor may prescribe this medicine to treat a condition not on the above list.
HOW TO USE/TAKE
How often do I take it?
- This medication is available as capsules, tablets and as an oral suspension (liquid), which is made up from granules by adding water. The pharmacist does this at the time of dispensing.
- Take this medication as capsules, tablets or suspension orally, usually in divided doses.
- The capsules and tablets should be swallowed whole with a glass of water either before or with food; they should not be chewed.
- If you are taking the oral suspension, always shake the bottle well before each dose.
- It is also available as an intravenous injection which will be given to you by a doctor or nurse.
- Erythromycin gel may be applied to the skin to treat acne. The gel is for external use only and should be kept away from the eyes, nose, mouth or lips.
Use this medication as prescribed for the duration of prescription in order to get the most benefit from it.
Remember to use it at the same time each day - unless specifically told otherwise by your doctor.
It may take up to a few days before the full benefit of this drug takes effect when given orally or by injection. The gel can take a few weeks before a benefit is seen.
Certain medical conditions may require different dosage instructions as directed by your doctor.
- Dosage is based on your age, gender, medical condition, response to therapy, and use of certain interacting medicines.
Do I need to avoid anything?
- There is no need to avoid driving or operating machinery as erythromycin is not known to affect your ability to perform these tasks. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
When can I stop?
- Always complete the full course as prescribed by your doctor. The duration of treatment depends upon the type and extent of the infection for which you are being treated.
ERYTHROMYCIN SIDE EFFECTS
- Stomach ache
- Hearing loss (reversible and usually only after high doses given by injection).
- Abnormal heart beats (cardiac arrhythmias)
- Disturbances of liver function.
- Inflammation of the liver (hepatitis)
- Yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes (jaundice).
- Allergic skin problems such as skin rash, urticaria or itching Other more severe allergic skin reactions such as 'erythema multiforme’ (itchy red to purple blotches and raised swollen area on the skin) and Steven's-Johnson syndrome
- Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
- Fits (seizures)
- Vertigo (dizziness arising from balance problems)
- Shedding of outer skin layers
- Burning sensation
If any of these persist or you consider them severe then stop taking and inform your doctor or pharmacist.
Tell your doctor immediately and stop taking erythromycin if you develop any of the following symptoms:
- Allergic skin reactions with severe rash, itching or other skin reactions
- Trouble breathing and swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat)
- Diarrhoea which may contain blood, pain and fever due to Inflammation of the large bowel with (colitis)
Tell your doctor if you develop any of the following symptoms:
- Less severe skin problems such as mild skin rash or itching
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
A serious allergic reaction to this drug is unlikely, but seek immediate medical attention if it occurs. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction include: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
The Yellow Card Scheme allows you to report suspected side effects from any type of medicine (which includes vaccines, herbals and over the counter medicines) that you are taking. It is run by the medicines safety watchdog called the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory agency (MHRA). Please report any suspected side effect on the Yellow Card Scheme website.
Before taking erythromycin, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to other penicillins; or if you have any other allergies.
This medication should not be used if you have certain medical conditions. Before using this medicine, consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have:
Previously had liver problems such as jaundice or hepatitis after taking an antibiotic.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially any of the following
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist that you are taking this medication.
Does alcohol intake affect this drug?
- Alcohol is not known to affect erythromycin.
The elderly: erythromycin can be used in the elderly, but the dose may need to be adjusted as side-effects may be more common.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding - please ensure you read the detailed information below
Erythromycin is suitable to take during pregnancy. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any doubts or questions about this.
It is sensible to limit use of medication during pregnancy whenever possible. However, your doctor may decide that the benefits outweigh the risks in individual circumstances and after a careful assessment of your specific health situation.
If you have any doubts or concerns you are advised to discuss the medicine with your doctor or pharmacist.
Erythromycin may be suitable to take if you are breastfeeding, but always discuss with your doctors first. If you are using the gel for acne, do not apply it to the chest area to avoid affecting the breast feeding infant.
It is sensible to limit use of medication during breastfeeding whenever possible. However, your doctor may decide that the benefits outweigh the risks in individual circumstances and after a careful assessment of your specific health situation.
If you have any doubts or concerns you are advised to discuss the medicine with your doctor or pharmacist.
Your doctor or pharmacist may already be aware of any possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for them. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with them first.
This drug should not be used with the following medications because very serious, possibly fatal interactions may occur:
- Amisulpride (used to treat mental health problems)
- Astemizole (antihistamine used to treat allergies)
- Ergotamine or dihydroergotamine (used to treat migraine)
- Pimozide (used to treat mental health problems)
- Mizolastine (antihistamine used to treat allergies)
- Sertindole (used to treat mental health problems)
- Simvastatin and other statins (used to lower cholesterol)
- Terfenadine (antihistamine used to treat allergies)
- Tolterodine (used to treat incontinence)
If you are currently using any of these medications, tell your doctor or pharmacist before starting erythromycin.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all prescription and non-prescription/herbal products you may use, especially of:
- Alfentanil (used to treat pain)
- Acenocoumarol, warfarin (used to prevent blood clotting)
- Buspirone (used to treat anxiety)
- Bromocriptine, cabergoline (used to treat Parkinson's disease)
- Carbamazepine, phenytoin, valproate (used to treat epilepsy)
- Cimetidine (used to treat intestinal ulcers)
- Clozapine, quetiapine (used to treat mental health problems)
- Ciclosporin (an immunosuppressant used to prevent transplant rejection, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis
- Digoxin (used to treat heart failure and irregular heart beats)
- Disopyramide (used to treat irregular heart beats)
- Eletriptan (used to treat migraine)
- Felodipine (used to lower blood pressure and treat angina)
- Midazolam, triazolam (used as a sedative)
- Quinidine (used to treat malaria)
- Rifabutin (an antibiotic)
- Tacrolimus (used in eczema and to prevent transplant rejection)
- Theophylline (used to treat asthma)
- Sildenafil, tadafil ( used to treat impotence)
- Chloramphenicol, clindamycin, lincomycin (antibiotics)
- Zopiclone (used to treat sleep problems)
These interactions do not apply to the erythromycin gel.
This information does not contain all possible interactions. Therefore, before using erythromycin, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the products you use.
If you have too much erythromycin, signs might include an upset stomach (feeling sick, being sick or diarrhoea) and hearing loss. Talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Take the medicine to show thedoctor.
If too much gel has been applied, marked redness, peeling or discomfort could occur.
If you think you, or someone you care for, might have accidentally taken more than the recommended dose of erythromycin or intentional overdose is suspected, contact your local hospital, GP or if in England call 111. In Scotland call NHS 24. In Wales, call NHS Direct Wales. In the case of medical emergencies, always dial 999.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember, then take the next dose at the correct time. Do not double the does to catch up.