All You Need to Know About Clarithromycin

By Dr. Pallavi Sharma

Table of Contents


Your doctor may recommend the drug “clarithromycin” if you have a bacterial illness such as pneumonia or an infection of the ears, sinuses, skin, or throat.

One of the macrolide antibiotics is “clarithromycin” which is used to treat infections by specific bacteria. For those who are allergic to penicillin, macrolides are a common alternative antibiotic.

We’ll go into more detail regarding the definition of clarithromycin and the ailments it is used to cure in this article. Then we’ll discuss how to take it and some negative effects that people who use clarithromycin may encounter.

Along with some cautions and warnings about using this medication, possible drug interactions will be discussed. Finally, we’ll explain when you should visit a physician or other healthcare professional.

What is Clarithromycin?

Clarithromycin is a macrolide antibiotic (brand names: Biaxin, Biaxin XL) used for the treatment of bacterial infections in patients who are allergic to penicillin, this class of medications is frequently administered.

Clarithromycin prevents particular proteins from being produced by bacteria, preventing them from multiplying.

Utilize clarithromycin just as directed by a medical professional. Colds, the flu, or other viral infections won’t be treated by it.

Uses for Clarithromycin

Certain bacterial infections are treated with clarithromycin, including the following:

  • Pneumonia (among the most frequent causes of bacterial pneumonia are streptococcus and Haemophilus);
  • Bacterial bronchitis;
  • Ear contaminations;
  • Throat infections caused by bacteria

Disseminated Mycobacterium avium complex(MAC), a form of lung infection that frequently affects patients with HIV, can also be treated and prevented with clarithromycin. In some cases, it can also be used in individuals undergoing dentistry or other treatments to prevent heart infections.

Clarithromycin can also be used to treat Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a bacterium that causes stomach ulcers when combined with lansoprazole and amoxicillin.

How to Take Clarithromycin

Pay close attention to the instructions on the prescription label.

Ask your provider for clarification on the steps to take if any of the instructions are unclear.

Tablets, extended-release tablets, and liquid (suspension) are all available forms of clarithromycin.

The tablet and liquid medication are typically given three times a day, with or without food, for seven to fourteen days. If your provider advises doing something different, do as they say.

Take the medication every day around the same time if at all possible.

If an extended-release tablet is prescribed for you, you’ll probably be instructed to take it one day with food for 7–14 days.

When taking clarithromycin:

  • Carefully read the directions on the medication label.
  • If there are any instructions or safety precautions that you don’t understand, see your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Follow the dosage instructions provided by your healthcare practitioner.
  • To mix the medication evenly, shake the liquid form thoroughly before each use.
  • If using extended-release tablets, inhale the entire tablet. Never chew, split, or crush the medication.
  • Avoid skipping doses or stopping the drug before the prescribed amount has been consumed.
  • Even if you begin to feel better, keep taking the medication.

Within the first few days of treatment, your symptoms ought to start to get better.

After a week of taking your medication, if your symptoms have not subsided, speak with your doctor for more details.

If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember unless the time for the following dose is approaching.

Skip the missing dose in that situation and carry on with your regular dosing regimen.

To make up for a missing dose, never take a second or additional dose.

It is not advised to take more medication than is necessary and should be avoided.

Get in touch with your doctor right away if you take too much medication by mistake.

Side Effects of Clarithromycin

The following adverse effects are most frequently observed in people using clarithromycin:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Gastrointestinal disturbance
  • Indigestion
  • Flatulence
  • Change in taste
  • Irritation
  • Fainting, being uncertain, or feeling disoriented

Contact your healthcare physician right away if any of these symptoms worsen or don’t go away.

Risks and Warnings for Clarithromycin

Inform your doctor about all of your current medical conditions and prescriptions before taking clarithromycin, as well as any ongoing medical issues you may have, such as heart disease, renal disease, or other allergies.

The use of clarithromycin (Biaxin) in individuals with heart disease may come with long-term hazards, according to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) analysis.

According to the study, persons with heart disease may be at a higher risk of developing cardiac arrest and lethal consequences. Many years after taking the medicine, these hazards may materialize.

Discuss with your doctor if clarithromycin has been prescribed to you and if you have heart problems.

Allergic Reaction

According to data, one in fifteen people experiences an allergic reaction to antibiotics, which can result in symptoms like skin rashes, itching, and breathing problems.

Before beginning this medication, let your doctor know if you have ever had an adverse reaction to clarithromycin, erythromycin, telithromycin, or any other drugs or antibiotics.


Take clarithromycin exactly as prescribed by your doctor or pharmacist to prevent a possible overdose.

A clarithromycin overdose may cause the following symptoms:

  • Stomach ache
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Diarrhea

Contact your healthcare practitioner right away if you notice any symptoms of a clarithromycin overdose by calling poison control at 1-800-222-1222.

Call 9-1-1 if you think a friend or loved one is not breathing because of a clarithromycin overdose.

Pregnancy or Lactating

Generally, the use of clarithromycin is safe in breastfeeding and pregnancy.

Inform your doctor if you are pregnant, want to become pregnant, or are nursing before beginning clarithromycin.

Drug Interactions with Clarithromycin

Clarithromycin may interact with many medications, such as:

  • Clotting agents (blood thinners);
  • Benzodiazepines, such as midazolam, triazolam (Halcion), and alprazolam (Xanax);
  • Calcium channel blockers;
  • Some HIV drugs, such as asefavirenz (Sustiva), atazanavir (Reytaz), saquinavir (Invirase), and didanosine (Videx);
  • Many drugs are used to treat irregular heartbeats, including amiodarone (Pacerone) and disopyramide (Norpace);
  • Several oral diabetes medications;
  • Statins (drugs used to lower cholesterol);
  • Some drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED), including sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis)

Clarithromycin may interact with other drugs.

Any drugs, vitamins, supplements, or herbal products you are currently using should be disclosed to your healthcare physician.

When to See a Doctor

While uncommon, serious adverse effects are possible when taking clarithromycin.

The following adverse effects should be reported to your healthcare provider as soon as you can to receive medical guidance:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath or troubled breathing
  • Discomfort in your side body
  • Inaudible speech
  • Rashes
  • Pimples
  • Temperature
  • Muscle feebleness (like difficulty in speaking, chewing, or carrying out routine activities)
  • Inflammation of the face, throat, tongue, lips, hands, feet, ankles, lower legs, or eyes
  • Roughness
  • Shedding or blazing skin
  • Staining of the skin or eyes
  • Unusual blood loss or bruising
  • Loss of hunger
  • Dark urine
  • Blurred vision
  • Reckless, thrashing, or uneven heartbeat
  • Flu-like warning signs
  • Any indication that your initial infection has returned.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How should antibiotics be kept before use?

Depending on the type of antibiotic you’re using, storage should be done correctly. Antibiotic pills should generally be stored away from light, excessive heat, and moisture. When not in use, keep clarithromycin pills at room temperature. Do not chill clarithromycin liquid (also known as suspension) before consuming it. All antibiotics should be kept securely locked, out of the reach of kids, and in a secure location

2. Are there any substitutes for clarithromycin?

Clarithromycin has many possible substitutes, such as amoxicillin and others. Ask your healthcare professional for further details if you’re interested in an alternative.

3. Is clarithromycin antibiotic is formulated from penicillin?

No. Clarithromycin is a member of the macrolide family of antibiotics and is frequently used as a penicillin substitute.


TeleHealthDoc articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Dr. Pallavi Sharma

Dr. Pallavi Sharma is one of Melbourne’s best, well respected cosmetic doctors and aims to provide longstanding anti-aging benefits for her clients. With over 11 years experience in Performing cosmetic procedures, Dr. Sharma has lectured medical professionals regarding cosmetic treatments and is heavily involved in providing up to date cosmetic treatments to her clients and friends.
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