Taking Antibiotics: Macrolides

Macrolide (MAK-ro-lide) antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections in many parts of the body. These antibiotics can also be used to treat some diseases. They do not work for colds, flu, and other viruses.

Possible Side Effects

Side effects can occur. Call your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side effects bother you:

  • Mild stomach cramps or pain

  • Diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting

  • Headache

  • A strange taste in your mouth

Call Your Doctor 

Contact your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Severe stomach pain or cramps, or tenderness in your abdomen

  • Severe diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting

  • Skin rash, redness, or itching

  • Unusual bleeding or bruising

  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing

  • Yellow eyes or skin

Before You Take This Medicine

For your safety, tell your doctor or pharmacist if:

  • You are taking any other prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

  • You have other health problems, or you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to get pregnant.

  • You have had an allergic reaction to any medicine or food.

Tips for Taking Your Medicine

  • Take your medicine exactly as directed on the label. If you ever have any questions, call your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Don’t stop taking your medicine, even if you feel better. If you don’t take it all, your symptoms may return and be harder to treat.

  • If you take erythromycin, take it at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals, unless your doctor says you may take it with food or milk.

  • If you take 2 or more doses a day, take them at evenly spaced times, day and night. This keeps an even amount of medicine in your blood.

  • If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember — unless it’s almost time for your next dose. If so, skip the missed dose. Do not take a double dose.

Special Directions

  • If you take a tablet or capsule, take it with a full glass of water. Do not take it with juice or soda.

  • If you take a long-acting capsule, swallow it whole. Do not crush, chew, or break it open.

  • If you take a chewable tablet, chew or crush it before you swallow it.

  • If you take a liquid, shake it well. Measure the exact dose with the dropper on the top of the bottle or with a measuring spoon. Then take it by mouth.