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Clarithromycin, Oral Tablet

Highlights for clarithromycin

  1. Clarithromycin oral tablet is available as a generic drug and a brand-name drug. Brand name: Biaxin.
  2. Clarithromycin oral tablet comes in an immediate-release release form and an extended-release form. Clarithromycin also comes as an oral suspension.
  3. This drug is used to prevent and treat certain infections caused by bacteria.
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Important warnings

Important warnings

  • Pregnancy: Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This drug can harm your fetus.
  • Liver problems: This drug may cause liver problems. Tell your doctor if you have symptoms of liver problems. These include dark-colored urine, itchiness, upper stomach pain, loss of appetite, or yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.
  • QT prolongation: Clarithromycin may cause the heart rhythm problem QT prolongation. This condition may cause fast, chaotic heartbeats.
  • Diarrhea: Almost all antibiotics, including clarithromycin, can cause Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea. This disease may range from causing mild diarrhea to severe inflammation of your colon. This can be fatal (cause death). Call your doctor if you have diarrhea during or after treatment with this drug.

About

What is clarithromycin?

Clarithromycin oral tablet is a prescription drug that’s available as the brand-name drug Biaxin. It’s also available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version.

Clarithromycin oral tablet comes in an immediate-release release form and an extended-release form. Clarithromycin also comes as an oral suspension.

Why it's used

Clarithromycin is used to prevent and treat certain infections caused by bacteria.

Clarithromycin may be used with other drugs (ethambutol, rifampin, amoxicillin, lansoprazole, omeprazole, or bismuth) to treat stomach ulcers or mycobacterial infections.

How it works

Clarithromycin belongs to a class of drugs called antibiotics (macrolides). A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

Clarithromycin works by stopping the bacteria that are causing an infection from multiplying.

This drug should only be used to treat or prevent bacterial infections. It shouldn’t be used to treat viruses such as the common cold.

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Side effects

Clarithromycin side effects

Clarithromycin oral tablet doesn’t cause drowsiness. However, it can cause other side effects.

More common side effects

The more common side effects of clarithromycin oral tablet can include:

  • stomach pain
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • abnormal taste in your mouth

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist

Serious side effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Liver problems. Symptoms can include:
    • tiredness or weakness
    • loss of appetite
    • upper stomach pain
    • dark-colored urine
    • yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes
  • Heart rate problems. Symptoms can include:
    • fast or chaotic heartbeats
  • Allergic reactions. Symptoms can include:
    • hives or more severe skin reactions
    • trouble breathing
    • swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.

Interactions

Clarithromycin may interact with other medications

Clarithromycin oral tablet can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Drugs you should not use with clarithromycin

Taking certain drugs with clarithromycin can cause dangerous effects in your body. Examples of drugs you shouldn’t take with clarithromycin include:

  • Colchicine. If you have kidney or liver problems, you shouldn’t take colchicine and clarithromycin together. People with liver problems might have higher levels of colchicine in their body. Taking these drugs together can increase your risk of side effects.
  • Drugs used to treat cholesterol (statins), such as simvastatin and lovastatin. Taking these drugs with clarithromycin may cause severe muscle problems.
  • Sildenafil, tadalafil, and vardenafil. Taking these drugs with clarithromycin can cause their levels to build up in your body and cause more side effects.
  • Ergotamine and dihydroergotamine. Taking these drugs with clarithromycin may cause sudden narrowing of your blood vessels (vasospasm). It may also cause reduced blood flow to your arms and legs.
  • Pimozide. Taking this drug with clarithromycin may result in serious, abnormal heart rhythms.
  • HIV drugs, such as atazanavir, lopinavir, nelfinavir, ritonavir, indinavir, and saquinavir. These drugs can build up in your body or cause clarithromycin to build up in your body. This may cause more side effects or cause either drug to not be as effective.
  • Hepatitis C virus infection drugs, such as ombitasvir, telaprevir, and paritaprevir. These drugs can build up in your body or cause clarithromycin to build up in your body. This may cause more side effects or cause either drug to not be as effective.
  • Fungal drugs, such as itraconazole, ketoconazole, and voriconazole. These drugs can build up in your body or cause clarithromycin to build up in your body. This may cause more side effects or cause either drug to not be as effective.
  • Other antibiotics, such as telithromycin. These drugs can build up in your body or cause clarithromycin to build up in your body. This may cause more side effects or cause either drug to not be as effective.

Interactions that increase your risk of side effects

Taking clarithromycin with certain medications may cause more side effects. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Benzodiazepines, such as triazolam and midazolam. If you take these drugs together, you may feel more sedated and drowsy.
  • Insulin and certain oral diabetes drugs, such as nateglinide, pioglitazone, repaglinide, and rosiglitazone. You may have a significant decrease in your blood sugar levels. You may need to monitor your blood sugar levels closely while taking these drugs together.
  • Warfarin. You may have more bleeding. Your doctor will monitor you closely if you take these drugs together.
  • Drugs used to treat cholesterol (statins), such as atorvastatin and pravastatin. Taking these drugs together may cause muscle problems. Your doctor may change the dose of your statin if you need to take these drugs together.
  • Quinidine and disopyramide. Taking these drugs together may cause serious abnormal heart rhythms. Your doctor may monitor your heart rhythm and the levels of quinidine or disopyramide in your body.
  • Blood pressure drugs (calcium channel blockers), such as verapamil, amlodipine, diltiazem, and nifedipine. Taking these drugs together may cause a drop in blood pressure and kidney problems.
  • Theophylline. Your doctor may monitor your theophylline blood levels.
  • Carbamazepine. Your doctor may monitor your carbamazepine blood levels.
  • Digoxin. Your doctor may monitor your digoxin blood levels.
  • Quetiapine. Taking this drug with clarithromycin may cause sleepiness, low blood pressure upon standing, confusion, and heart rhythm problems. Your doctor should monitor you closely with this combination.

Interactions that can make your drugs less effective

When certain drugs are used with clarithromycin, they may not work as well. This is because the amount of these drugs in your body may be decreased. An example of these drugs includes zidovudine. You should take clarithromycin and zidovudine at least 2 hours apart.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.

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Other warnings

Clarithromycin warnings

This drug comes with several warnings.

Allergy warning

Clarithromycin can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • hives
  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat

Call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room if you develop these symptoms. Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

Warnings for people with certain health conditions

For people with kidney problems: This drug is broken down by your kidneys. If your kidneys don’t work as well, this drug may build up in your body. This can cause more side effects. If you have severe kidney problems, you may need a lower dose or you may need a different schedule.

For people with myasthenia gravis: If you have myasthenia gravis (a condition that causes muscle weakness), this drug may make your symptoms worse.

For people with a history of abnormal heart rhythms: Talk to your doctor about whether this drug is safe for you. This drug may increase your risk of heart-related death.

Warnings for other groups

For pregnant women: Clarithromycin is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the fetus.

Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Clarithromycin should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the risk.

For women who are breastfeeding: Clarithromycin passes into breast milk and may cause side effects in a child who is breastfed. Talk to your doctor if you breastfeed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breastfeeding or stop taking this medication.

For children: This drug hasn't been shown to be safe and effective for people younger than 18 years for the treatment of acute exacerbation of chronic bronchitis and Helicobacter pylori infection and duodenal ulcer disease. The safety of clarithromycin hasn’t been studied in people younger than 20 months with mycobacterium avian complex. This drug hasn’t been studied in children younger than 6 months for other infections. It shouldn’t be used in children younger than 6 months.

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Dosage

How to take clarithromycin

This dosage information is for clarithromycin oral tablet. All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

Forms and strengths

Brand: Biaxin

  • Form: oral immediate-release tablet
  • Strengths: 250 mg and 500 mg

Generic: Clarithromycin

  • Form: oral immediate-release tablet
  • Strengths: 250 mg, 500 mg
  • Form: oral extended-release tablet
  • Strengths: 500 mg

Dosage for acute sinusitis

Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

  • Oral tablet: 500 mg taken every 12 hours for 14 days
  • Extended-release oral tablet: 1,000 mg taken every 24 hours for 14 days

Child dosage (ages 6 months–17 years)

The recommended daily dosage is 15 mg/kg/day. It should be given in two daily doses, one every 12 hours, for 10 days (up to the adult dose).

Child dosage (ages 0–5 months)

It hasn’t been confirmed that this drug is safe and effective for use in people younger than 6 months.

Special considerations

People with kidney problems: If your creatinine clearance (a marker of kidney function) is less than 30 mL/min, your doctor will give you one half the standard dose.

Dosage for acute exacerbation of chronic bronchitis

Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

  • Oral tablet: 250 or 500 mg taken every 12 hours for 7–14 days depending upon the type of bacteria causing the infection
  • Extended-release oral tablet: 1,000 mg taken every 24 hours for 7 days

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This drug hasn't been shown to be safe and effective for people younger than 18 years for this condition.

Special considerations

People with kidney problems: If your creatinine clearance (a marker of kidney function) is less than 30 mL/min, your doctor will give you one half the standard dose.

Dosage for community-acquired pneumonia

Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

  • Oral tablet: 250 mg taken every 12 hours for 7–14 days depending upon the type of bacteria causing the infection
  • Extended-release oral tablet: 1,000 mg taken every 24 hours for 7 days

Child dosage (ages 6 months–17 years)

The recommended daily dosage is 15 mg/kg/day. It should be given in two daily doses, one every 12 hours, for 10 days (up to the adult dose).

Child dosage (ages 0–5 months)

It hasn’t been confirmed that this drug is safe and effective for use in people younger than 6 months.

Special considerations

People with kidney problems: If your creatinine clearance (a marker of kidney function) is less than 30 mL/min, your doctor will give you one half the standard dose.

Dosage for uncomplicated skin and skin structure infections

Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

Oral tablet: 250 mg taken every 12 hours for 7–14 days

Child dosage (ages 6 months–17 years)

The recommended daily dosage is 15 mg/kg/day. It should be given in two daily doses, one every 12 hours, for 10 days (up to the adult dose).

Child dosage (ages 0–5 months)

It hasn’t been confirmed that this drug is safe and effective for use in people younger than 6 months.

Special considerations

People with kidney problems: If your creatinine clearance (a marker of kidney function) is less than 30 mL/min, your doctor will give you one half the standard dose.

Dosage for the treatment and prevention of Mycobacterial infections

Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

Oral tablet: 500 mg taken twice per day

Child dosage (ages 6 months–17 years)

The recommended dosage is 7.5 mg/kg every 12 hours, up to 500 mg every 12 hours.

Child dosage (ages 0–5 months)

It hasn’t been confirmed that this drug is safe and effective for use in people younger than 6 months.

Special considerations

People with kidney problems: If your creatinine clearance (a marker of kidney function) is less than 30 mL/min, your doctor will give you one half the standard dose.

Dosage for acute otitis media

Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

This drug isn't used in this age group for this condition.

Child dosage (ages 6 months–17 years)

The recommended daily dosage is 15 mg/kg/day. It should be given in two daily doses, one every 12 hours, for 10 days (up to the adult dose).

Child dosage (ages 0–5 months)

It hasn’t been confirmed that this drug is safe and effective for use in people younger than 6 months.

Special considerations

People with kidney problems: If your creatinine clearance (a marker of kidney function) is less than 30 mL/min, your doctor will give you one half the standard dose.

Dosage for helicobacter pylori infection and duodenal ulcer disease

Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

  • Oral tablet: Your dose depends on what drugs you’re taking clarithromycin with.
  • With amoxicillin and omeprazole or lansoprazole: 500 mg taken every 12 hours for 10– 14 days
  • With omeprazole: 500 mg taken every 8 hours for 14 days

Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This drug hasn't been shown to be safe and effective for people younger than 18 years of age for this condition.

Special considerations

People with kidney problems: If your creatinine clearance (a marker of kidney function) is less than 30 mL/min, your doctor will give you one half the standard dose.

Dosage for pharyngitis or tonsillitis

Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

Oral tablet: 250 mg taken every 12 hours for 10 days

Child dosage (ages 6 months–17 years)

The recommended daily dosage is 15 mg/kg/day. It should be given in two daily doses, one every 12 hours, for 10 days (up to the adult dose).

Child dosage (ages 0–5 months)

It hasn’t been confirmed that this drug is safe and effective for use in people younger than 6 months.

Special considerations

People with kidney problems: If your creatinine clearance (a marker of kidney function) is less than 30 mL/min, your doctor will give you one half the standard dose.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.

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Take as directed

Take as directed

Clarithromycin oral tablet is used for short-term treatment. It comes with risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug or don’t take it at all: If you don’t take this drug, your infection may not improve or it may get worse.

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule: Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body at all times.

If you take too much: You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms can include:

  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

What to do if you miss a dose: Take your dose as soon as you remember. But if you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working: Your symptoms of your infection and your infection should go away if this drug is working.

Important considerations

Important considerations for taking this drug

Keep these considerations in mind if your doctor prescribes clarithromycin oral tablet for you.

General

  • You can take the immediate-release tablets with or without food. You should take the extended-release tablets with food.
  • You can crush the extended-release tablets. You should not cut crush the immediate-release tablets. Swallow them whole.

Storage

  • Store clarithromycin between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
  • Don’t refrigerate any forms of this drug.
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

Refills

A prescription for this medication is refillable. You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Clinical monitoring

You and your doctor should monitor certain health issues. This can help make sure you stay safe while you take this drug. This monitoring may be done using:

  • Liver function tests. Your doctor may do blood tests to check how well your liver is working. If your liver isn’t working well, your doctor may have you stop taking this drug.
  • Kidney function tests. Your doctor may do blood tests to check how well your kidneys are working. If your kidneys aren’t working well, your doctor may give you a lower dose of the drug.
  • White blood cell count. Your doctor may do blood tests to check how well your body and medication is fighting the infection. If your levels are not improving, your doctor may have you stop taking this drug and recommend another.
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Alternatives

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

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