Azithromycin Z Pak – Uses, Dosage, Side Effects, and More 

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Azithromycin is a common name seen on drugstore shelves. However, suppose you’ve suffered from some form of bacterial infection in your life. In that case, chances are your doctor started a discussion about treating you with azithromycin.

In the following sections, we’ve laid out the vital information you need to know about this medication. We have also gathered some frequently asked questions about Azithromycin Z Pak.

As a pharmaceutical staple, this antibacterial medicine is relatively affordable and easy to obtain. Many people know it under the Z-Pak brand name. However, this is not the only way to find azithromycin on store shelves. The drug class is also marketed as Azax, AzaSite, Zedd, and Zmax.

Despite its wide availability and popularity among medical providers, this prescription medication is not a cure-all. It only works against certain drug-resistant bacteria. Even then, it’s most effective against specific strains.

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What Is Azithromycin Z-Pak?

Azithromycin Z Pak is the brand name for the prescription drug azithromycin. It’s a macrolide-type antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections.

As a macrolide-type antibiotic, this prescription drug acts by halting the growth of bacteria.

This bacteriostatic action works effectively against a wide variety of bacteria, such as :

  • Haemophilus influenzae
  • Legionella pneumophila
  • Mycoplasma pneumonia
  • Streptococcus pneumonia

This antibiotic is commonly used to treat respiratory infections like bronchitis, pneumonia, and sinusitis, and it’s also used to treat skin, soft tissue, and ear infections.

Sometimes, healthcare providers may prescribe this drug “off-label” to treat other infections like Lyme disease, chlamydia, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

The discovery of this medication dates way back to 1980, when Pliva, a Croatian pharmacological company, first synthesized this drug.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) endorsed azithromycin for medical use in 1991. Since its conception, this drug has helped countless patients recover from bacterial infections.

Things You Need To Know Before Taking Azithromycin Z Pak

When taking azithromycin as part of your antimicrobial treatment plan, you must keep several things in mind. Some of these advisories will probably be introduced to you by your physician.

However, if you’re looking to learn more about this drug before your doctor’s appointment, here are some things to keep in mind:

Although this antibiotic is safe on an empty stomach, some people might experience nausea and vomiting.

If your stomach is sensitive, you should take this drug with food. Different individuals react differently to this drug, so paying attention to your body and how it reacts to the medication is crucial.

Azithromycin remains active and unchanged in your body for up to 72 hours. Therefore, you only need to take this drug once daily for most infections.

The exception is chlamydia, for which you must take this drug twice a day for five days straight.

This prescription medication might interact with other drugs you’re currently taking. So be sure to tell your doctor about all the medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements you’re currently taking.

It helps to inform your physician if you have any pre-existing medical conditions like kidney disease or myasthenia gravis.

These conditions may affect how this drug works in your body.

Pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid taking this drug, as there’s a possibility the mother might transfer it to the baby through breast milk.

Azithromycin is a Category B pregnancy drug, which means clinical trials have revealed no adverse effects on the fetus.

Still, there are no adequate and well-controlled studies on pregnant humans.

How Azithromycin Z Pak (Zithromax) Works

As mentioned in earlier sections, azithromycin is a macrolide-type antibiotic. When bacteria infect our bodies, it releases chemicals called endotoxins.

These biochemicals poison human cells and cause fever, diarrhea, and other unpleasant symptoms.

Azithromycin works by inhibiting the synthesis of an essential bacterial protein called RNA. By inhibiting RNA synthesis, azithromycin prevents the bacteria from producing more endotoxins.

This, in turn, reduces the intensity of the infection and its symptoms.

Azithromycin is especially effective against respiratory infections because it can penetrate and accumulate in cells lining the airways.

This allows azithromycin to attack the bacteria causing respiratory infections more effectively than other antibiotics.

Medical providers often use this drug for off-label use, meaning doctors prescribe this drug for infections that the FDA does not yet approve.

Azithromycin is particularly effective in treating chlamydia, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Consequently, azithromycin is ineffective against viruses and fungi, and this drug only works against bacteria.

Your doctor will prescribe a different medication if you have a viral or fungal infection.

What Is Azithromycin Z-Pak (Zithromax) Used For?

The indication for azithromycin is to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections. Some of the most prevalent uses for this drug are to treat respiratory infections like bronchitis, sinusitis, and pneumonia.

Medical providers also prescribe this drug to treat skin infections, ear infections, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and genital ulcers.

Other typical uses of this drug include:

  • Treatment of community-acquired pneumonia
  • Treatment of pharyngitis and tonsillitis caused by Streptococcus pyogenes
  • Treatment of skin infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pyogenes, or Streptococcus pneumoniae;
  • Prevention of Mycobacterium avium complex infections in people with HIV;
  • Treatment of urethritis and cervicitis caused by Chlamydia trachomatis;
  • Treatment of genital ulcer disease caused by Haemophilus ducreyi;
  • Treatment of pelvic inflammatory disease caused by Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhea, or Mycoplasma genitalium; and
  • Treatment of azithromycin-susceptible organisms causing otitis media.

Azithromycin Z-Pak Effectiveness in STIs and STDs

According to the CDC, azithromycin is the recommended pharmaceutical agent against chlamydia. The CDC reports that this drug is over 90% effective in treating chlamydia infections.

This drug is also highly effective in treating genital ulcers caused by Haemophilus ducreyi, commonly known as chancroid.

Azithromycin is about 80% effective in the treatment of chancroid.

The CDC also recommends azithromycin to treat Neisseria gonorrhea infections, commonly known as gonorrhea.

Gonorrhea is one of the sexually transmitted infections that can cause serious health problems if left untreated. Azithromycin is over 90% effective in treating gonorrhea infections.

How Effective Is Azithromycin Z-Pak for Treating Sinus Infection?

Azithromycin produces positive results in treating sinus infections. A study done on patients with sinusitis showed that the use of azithromycin resulted in a significant reduction of symptoms like runny nose, congestion, facial pain and pressure, and headache.

Therefore, the clinical studies concluded that azithromycin is an effective treatment for sinus infections.

Medical doctors often prescribe a 3-day or 5-day course of azithromycin when treating adult sinusitis. However, a study on the efficacy of different durations of azithromycin therapy showed that the 3-day course is as potent as the 5-day course in treating sinusitis.

With countless evidence of the drug’s efficacy against sinus infections, the FDA has approved using azithromycin for treating sinusitis in children.

Can Azithromycin Z-Pak Treat a Urinary Tract Infection?

Azithromycin is also known to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs). A group of researchers conducted a study to understand the therapeutic effects of azithromycin in treating UTIs caused by E. coli.

Their study showed that the drug is highly effective in treating such infections.

Doctors have been using azithromycin to treat UTIs for many years. In fact, a study done in 2017 led to the discovery that this drug is as effective as the conventional treatment for UTIs, which is amoxicillin-clavulanate.

Azithromycin has also been effective in treating other types of UTIs caused by different bacteria. For example, a 2017 study showed that this drug effectively treats UTIs caused by Enterococcus faecalis.

Azithromycin Z Pak Dosage for Adults and Children

Azithromycin Z-Pak (Zithromax) Dosage Forms

Dosing for azithromycin greatly varies per age range. Typically, children over six months, and adults weighing over 88 pounds, will be prescribed 250 mg (milligrams).

Those in this category are normally given one dose daily for three days. However, different conditions may require different regimens:

For adults:

In treating skin infections, strep throat, pneumonia, and tonsillitis, the recommended dose is 500 mg initially, followed by 250 mg for the next four days.

For non-gonorrhea STDs such as chlamydia, a single 1-gram (1000 mg) dose is recommended. In contrast, gonorrhea requires a higher 2-gram (2000 mg) amount as a single dose.

Doctors might prescribe a 3-day course of 500 mg when treating sinus infection, taken once daily.

For children:

When treating ear infections, the recommended azithromycin dosing is 10 mg per kilogram (about 4.5 mg per pound) of body weight on the first day. This is followed by 5 mg per kilogram (about 2.3 mg per pound) of body weight for the next two days.

The recommended dosing for treating children’s strep throat, pneumonia, and tonsillitis is 12 mg per kilogram (about 5.4 mg per pound) on the first day. This is followed by 6 mg per kilogram (about 2.7 mg per pound) of body weight daily for the next two days.

Medication dosing considers a few things, such as the infection’s severity and other medications that might interact with azithromycin. Therefore, following your doctor’s instructions when taking any medication is essential.

What Are the Side Effects of Azithromycin (Zithromax)?

Azithromycin is a well-tolerated drug with a low incidence of side effects. However, like all drugs, taking azithromycin has potential adverse reactions. The most common side effects seen in adults taking azithromycin are enumerated below:

Diarrhea and vomiting: Some adult patients and children taking azithromycin might experience diarrhea or vomiting. If these side effects are experienced, drinking plenty of fluids is crucial to avoid dehydration.

Loss of appetite: Some people might experience a loss of appetite while taking azithromycin. If this side effect is experienced, eating small, frequent meals throughout the day is essential.

Headaches and dizziness: Headaches and dizziness are also potential side effects of azithromycin. If these side effects are experienced, it’s crucial to drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest.

Alteration of taste: A small number of people taking azithromycin might experience an alteration in taste. This side effect is typically temporary and goes away on its own.

Nausea: Nausea is a potential side effect of azithromycin. If this side effect is experienced, rest is crucial.

While the side effects listed above are the most common ones seen in adults taking azithromycin, other potential adverse reactions have been reported. Listed below are the severe side effects that have been reported:

Pancreatitis: Some people might experience pancreatitis (pancreas inflammation) while taking azithromycin. Symptoms of pancreatitis include stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting. If these symptoms are experienced, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately.

Arrhythmia: Some people might experience an irregular heartbeat while taking azithromycin. Symptoms of arrhythmia include chest pain, shortness of breath, and dizziness. If these symptoms are experienced, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately.

Drug Interactions With Azithromycin Z-Pak

Azithromycin has the potential to interact with other medications. Therefore, you must tell your doctor about all other medications you are taking, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Listed below are some of the most common medicines that azithromycin might interact with:

Nelfinavir: Nelfinavir is a medication used to treat HIV infection. When taken with azithromycin, it might increase the risk of liver abnormalities.

Warfarin: Warfarin is a medication used to thin the blood. When taken with azithromycin, it might increase the risk of bleeding.

Digoxin: Digoxin is medicine for heart conditions. When taken with azithromycin, it might interfere with the action of this cardiac medicine.

Colchicine: Colchicine is a drug for gout. Taking azithromycin might increase the risk factors of severe adverse reactions. As always, speaking with your doctor about potential drug interactions before starting any new medication is crucial.

Phenytoin: Phenytoin is used to treat seizures. When taken with azithromycin, it might decrease the action of this seizure medication.

Food Interactions With Azithromycin Z-Pak

Unlike other antibiotics, patients can take azithromycin with or without food. However, taking azithromycin with food might decrease the risk of stomach upset.

As always, speaking with your doctor or pharmacist about potential drug and food interactions before starting any new medication is crucial.

Who Shouldn’t Take Zithromax?

Azithromycin, like all antibiotics, should be used when prescribed by a doctor. However, azithromycin is not typically recommended for the following group of individuals:

People with allergic reactions: Azithromycin should not be used by people who have previously had an allergic reaction to it.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction to azithromycin include difficulty breathing and face swelling. Patients might also experience hives and constriction of the throat.

Diabetes patients: Azithromycin should be used with caution in diabetes patients. This is because azithromycin might increase the level of sugar in the blood.

Patients with myasthenia gravis: Azithromycin should be used with caution in these patients. This is because azithromycin might worsen this condition.

Patients with cardiac diseases: Azithromycin should be used cautiously in patients with cardiac conditions. This is because azithromycin might cause an irregular heartbeat.

Individuals with liver or kidney problems: Azithromycin should be used with caution in individuals with liver or kidney problems. This is because azithromycin might increase certain toxins in the body.

Is Azithromycin (Z-Pak) Safe To Use During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding?

In general, azithromycin is safe for use during pregnancy. However, as with all medications, pregnant women should speak with their doctor before taking azithromycin. Research also suggests that azithromycin does not affect a woman’s fertility.

Azithromycin is excreted in breast milk in minute amounts. Therefore, it is not always recommended for use in breastfeeding mothers.

Nursing mothers should consult their physician before taking azithromycin. In contrast, azithromycin is not known to be harmful to healthy infants.

How To Get Azithromycin Z-Pak Online

Azithromycin (Z-Pak) is a prescription medication; therefore, patients can only obtain it through a doctor’s prescription. However, azithromycin is available for purchase online through several different sources.

Some websites require a valid prescription from a doctor before selling azithromycin. Other websites do not require a prescription but may sell azithromycin for a higher price.

However, remember that azithromycin is listed as a prescription drug for a reason, and complying with the proper usage of this drug is crucial to ensure safety.

Azithromycin is also available for purchase through online pharmacies. Online pharmacies typically sell azithromycin for a lower price than brick-and-mortar pharmacies. Additionally, some online pharmacies offer free shipping on orders of azithromycin.

With the advent of technology, many pharmacies now offer to buy azithromycin online. This is a suitable option for those who do not have enough time to go to the pharmacy or those living in rural areas.

How Should Azithromycin Z-Pak Be Stored?

Azithromycin is best stored in a cool, dry place away from heat and light. The oral suspension should be refrigerated; however, users can keep it at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Consequently, azithromycin in the extended-release formulation should not be stored in refrigerators. It’s also not best to store azithromycin in the bathroom as the moisture could render the drug ineffective.

Once you’re done with your azithromycin treatment, dispose of any leftover medication properly. New azithromycin can be thrown away in the trash.

However, make sure to empty the contents of the capsule or tablet into a water container before throwing it away. This will prevent someone else from accidentally taking the medication.

What Are the Risks and Warnings for Azithromycin (Zithromax)?

Azithromycin is generally a safe medication with few side effects. However, as with all medicines, there are potential risks and warnings associated with azithromycin use.

Common side effects of azithromycin are gastrointestinal, including diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. These side effects are typically mild and go away on their own.

More severe side effects associated with azithromycin include:

  • Hearing problems
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Liver problems
  • Kidney problems
  • Allergic reactions (rash, hives, difficulty breathing)

Azithromycin should be used carefully in patients with cardiac conditions. This is because azithromycin might cause irregular heart rhythms, ultimately leading to cardiovascular death. Additionally, azithromycin should be used cautiously in patients with liver or kidney problems.

Different individuals react differently to other medications. Therefore, azithromycin might not be suitable for everyone.

Patients should speak with their doctor before taking azithromycin to ensure it is the proper medication.

Frequently Asked Questions

Not all patients react positively to azithromycin; other options are available in such cases. Two of the most commonly prescribed for Z-Pak are hydroxychloroquine and doxycycline. These antibiotics are taken orally and are typically just as effective as azithromycin. 

Mucinex is a medication commonly used to relieve congestion associated with colds and allergies. Mucinex is generally considered safe to take with azithromycin; however, patients should speak with their doctor before taking the two medications together. 

Azithromycin is a viable treatment option for urinary tract infections (UTIs), but it is not always the best option. Medical doctors should decide to prescribe azithromycin for a UTI on a case-by-case basis. Patients allergic to other antibiotics or have certain medical conditions might be good candidates for azithromycin. 

Amoxicillin is a widely used antibiotic, and it is generally considered safe to take azithromycin and amoxicillin together. However, as with all drugs, drug interaction could happen. Therefore, pediatric patients should speak with their doctor before taking the two medicines together. 

As mentioned, azithromycin is a staple medication in treating sinus infections. In most cases, azithromycin is very effective in clearing up a sinus infection. However, as with all medicines, there is the potential for azithromycin to be ineffective. 

Z-Pak (azithromycin) is a good option for treating sinus infections. However, as with all medications, there is the potential for azithromycin to be ineffective. Because of this risk, consulting with a doctor is always recommended before taking azithromycin. 

Azithromycin has shown a positive effect in treating ear infections. Because of its high efficacy, this antibiotic is also recommended for children. However, the ideal dosing might vary depending on the child’s age, weight, and severity of the infection. 

Melatonin is a medication commonly used to treat insomnia, and this drug acts by regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Several studies have explored the potential interactions between azithromycin and melatonin. These studies show that combining melatonin and azithromycin poses no risk. However, patients should consult their healthcare provider before taking the two medications together. 

Tylenol is a drug used to relieve pain and fever, and this drug is generally considered safe to take with azithromycin. Unfortunately, there’s not enough clinical studies to determine if there are any potential interactions between the two medications. But in the few clinical trials that have been done, researchers found no critical interactions between these two medications. 

Augmentin is another type of antibacterial drug used to treat respiratory infections. This drug is a combination of amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium. Azithromycin is considered safe to take with augmentin. However, as with all medications, unwanted drug interactions might emerge. Because of these risk factors, patients should always speak with their doctor before taking azithromycin and augmentin. 

The general azithromycin treatment length for sinusitis is five days. However, the duration of treatment might vary depending on the severity of the infection. For example, three days of azithromycin might be enough for mild sinusitis cases. However, seven to ten days of treatment might be necessary for severe cases. 

Ibuprofen is a drug used to relieve pain and fever. Similar to Tylenol, studies conducted to understand the interaction between ibuprofen and azithromycin are poor. But a few approved studies show that these two drugs have little to no negative interactions.

Final Thoughts

Despite the extensive application of azithromycin and its flexibility to be used with other drugs, it helps to speak with a doctor before taking azithromycin. Your doctor can better assess if this drug is ideal for your condition and if there are any other potential interactions you need to know.

The content on Doctor Alexa’s blog is reviewed by Advanced practice registered nurses or pharmacist and is intended for educational purposes only. This information should not be relied upon as professional medical counsel. Be sure to always consult with your physician about the dangers and benefits of any medication, treatment or procedure.

You shouldn’t wait to see the doctor for simple health needs.