People are often scared by the name of antibiotics. They shudder at the thought of using them for any health issue. The main reason behind such phobia is the fear of side effects and potential damage that they might do to the body. However, all the antibiotics are not of the same kind and do not act in the same way. Let us get to know about an antibiotic named Zithromax.
What is Zithromax?
Zithromax is one of the brand names of antibiotic medicine named Azithromycin. It is an antibiotic which helps in treating various kinds of bacterial infections. It belongs to a family of medicines known as Macrolide antibiotics. It comes in the form of tablets, injection and powder for oral suspension. It is also popularly known as Z-Pak.
Uses of Zithromax:
It is generally used for treating various kinds of bacterial infections related to throat, ear, lungs, skin etc. Initially it was used to treat only respiratory and skin problems, but later it is being used for treating some of the sexually transmitted infections as well. It is even used to treat certain infections in HIV -infected people. It is a common medicine for Bronchitis, pneumonia and for pelvic inflammatory diseases.
It has to be remembered that Zithromax will not work in the cases of viral infections such as cold or flu. Taking unwanted dosage of this antibiotic can cause harm and even reduce the effectiveness of the medicine on that person.
Zithromax was manufactured by a company named Pfizer. The sales of this medicine soared during the year 2002 when it generated up to $1 billion for the company. Later, the profits reduced as several generic substitutes began to become available in the market. Despite that the annual sales of Zithromax is around $435 million in the year 2012 which is remarkable.
How it works?
Zithromax doesn’t kill the bacteria directly. It is a bacteriostatic antibiotic which means that it prevents the bacteria from multiplying and hinders them from producing proteins required for their survival and growth. In this way, one side bacteria cannot increase their number as multiplying is effectively stopped. On other side, the existing bacteria also become weak as the production of proteins is restricted. Ultimately, the bacteria is reduces in number and become weak. The immune system of the body kills the bacteria at this stage.
How is it different from other antibiotics?
Usually bactericidal antibiotics work by killing the bacteria directly. But Zithromax works by weakening the bacteria. Further, Zithromax takes time to break down in the body due to which it doesn’t float freely in the blood. The white blood cells which fight infection in our body pick up the molecules of Zithromax instead and carry them to the place of infection. Zithromax concentrates itself around the infected tissues and stays for longer time in the body. That is the reason the number of doses of Zithromax needed to fight an infection is lesser than any other antibiotic. Certain studies have proved that the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of Zithromax is very low. It means that the drug works at very low quantity and is more effective in comparison with similar antibiotics.
Always use the right amount of dose as prescribed by the doctor. Usually 500mg of dose is suggested on the first day for adults who are suffering with either lung infection or skin infection. Further, one tablet of 250 mg is prescribed for another 4 days to be taken at same time.
A single (250mg x 4 tablets) or double dose (250 mg x 8 tablets) of Azithromycin is used to treat different types of bacteria. Around 1200 mg of Azithromycin is used in prevention of Mycobacterium Avum Complex (MAC) infections.
The dosage given to the children varies according to their age and weight.
Consuming Zithromax/ Azithromycin:
There is no specific rule if this antibiotic has to be taken with food or without food, but stomach may get upset in some cases where it is advisable to consume the antibiotic along with the food. The medicine works its best when it is taken in even time gaps such as taking at the same time every day. It is very important to continue the medicine for the number of days prescribed by the doctor, even if the symptoms have reduced or disappear. Stopping the medicine before completing the course duration might aggravate the condition as there are chances of bacteria to continue to grow once again.
Point to remember:
According to certain studies, it is advised not to consume any antacids at the same time of taking in Azithromycin products. As the antacids contain aluminum and Magnesium, they slow the process of absorption of azithromycin and make in ineffective. Therefore make sure to take at least two hours gap between taking the two tablets.
Exceptions of use:
It is not advisable to use Zithromax for people, who have allergy towards Azithromycin or had either jaundice or liver problems on using it earlier. People who had trouble with similar medicines from the same family are suggested not to use Zithromax/ azithromycin.
It is always advisable to take the opinion of doctor before using Zithromax or its equivalent. If you have a case history of kidney disease, liver disease, heart rhythm disorder or long QT syndrome, it is better to avoid this drug.
Better safe than sorry
It is not known whether Zithromax would affect an unborn baby or not. It is advisable to consult the doctor before using this drug on pregnant woman. Similarly, it is not ascertained whether Azithromycin in this drug reaches the baby through the milk fed by breast feeding mother or not. Therefore, it is suggested that the breast feeding mothers not to use this drug unless it is necessary.
It is also not advisable to be used for children below 6 months for any kind of reason.
Intensity of Side effects:
The side effects of using Zithromax or Azithromycin are very less compared to many other antibiotics. Around 12 percent of the patients using Zithromax were found suffering with side effects and only 10 percent of them suffered any serious situations. So, the side effects of Zithromax can be stated as minimum and not very critical.
Mild side effects:
Some of the side effects found in certain patients who used Zithromax include head ache, dizziness, constipation, nervousness, hearing problem, problem with sensing smell etc.
Severe side effects:
Very few patients had some severe side effects such as allergic reactions, skin rashes, liver problems, irregular heart rhythm, muscle weakness, liver failure, cardiac arrest etc.
The percentage of people who suffered severe side effects is only around 1% of the total patients who used Zithromax, however it is advised to consult doctor and take his/her advice.
The Bright spot:
Research has shown that the side effects remained in body only as long as the antibiotic existed in the blood in large quantity. Once the 5 day course was completed, the symptoms of side effects have also disappeared.
Impact on Heart patients:
Further studies have revealed that the risk of life was mainly among the patients who were already suffering from heart problems. The US Food and Drug administration (FDA) has given a strict public warning to the people in the case of using antibiotic brands of Azithromycin such as Zithromax. It warned that using Azithromycin drugs among the people suffering heart diseases could lead to unexpected changes in the electrical activity in the heart of the patient. It may further become potentially fatal due to irregular heartbeat. So, it is advisable for heart patients to keep away from this drug unless it is necessary.
Some of the doctors advise that it is better to use another drug such as Amoxicillin for the heart patients with high risk in the place of Zithromax. When it comes to all the other people who have no heart complications, Zithromax can be used with least possible side effects. A study has also proved that the impact on cardio vascular system in the case of young and middle aged people was almost negligible.
Precautions while using Zithromax:
Zithromax should not be used in combination with certain drugs as there is a risk of reaction between them.
Consuming Alcohol can also intensify the side effects during the time of its use.
Some drugs prescribed for HIV infections have the ability to produce Azithromycin in the blood. If a patient uses Zithromax in combination with such drug, it could become over dose and lead to side effects.
Zithromax is not supposed to be used with drugs used for thinning of the blood. It has the ability to make the blood thinner. Using it in combination with such drugs may lead to potential risk.
It is also not suggested to use any other antibiotic belonging to Macrolide family along with Zithromax, as it belongs to the same family. There are chances of reaction between the two drugs of the same family.
Other than exceptions such as heart patients and patients allergic to antibiotics of this kind, Zithromax can be conveniently used by majority of the people as per the dosage prescribed by the doctor.
Antibiotics have become a main part of medication these days. They have become a necessity in many health conditions where the patient is suffering due to some kind of bacterial infection. You might have used antibiotics one time or the other, probably for a strep throat or for skin or ear infection. Antibiotics have become an undisputed component in the treatment of several diseases in the modern medical science.
People have a misconception that all the antibiotics are the same. Other than getting scared of the side effects, people usually do not know much about antibiotics. However, there is a lot left to learn and understand about these useful drugs.
What are Antibiotics?
Antibiotics are drugs that are used to treat the infections caused by various kinds of bacteria in different parts of the human body. The infections in human body might be fungal, bacterial or viral. Antibiotics are used specifically for bacterial infections such as strep, staph or E.coli. They may either kill the bacteria or stop them for multiplying further.
It has to be noted that the antibiotics are ineffective in the cases of viral infections.
There are different kinds of antibiotics and they are selected based on the type of infection. The kind of antibiotic used to treat a particular infection is fixed. Another kind of antibiotic may not show any signs of improvement in the health condition in case if it is used as substitute.
Restrictions on using antibiotics:
Certain health conditions do not support the use of antibiotics. Patients suffering from problems related to heart, liver or kidney are more prone to severe side effects and should refrain from using antibiotics unless it is necessary and prescribed by a competent doctor who knows completely about your health condition. Further, elderly people, small kids, pregnant women and breast feeding mothers need to be careful before using antibiotics.
Elderly people and kids usually have less resistance and hence the choice of antibiotic and its dosage has to be selected with utmost care.
Pregnant mothers have the risk of affecting the health condition of the baby in the womb. So, they need to be extra cautious to avoid any birth defects.
Breast feeding mothers need to be very careful in the use of antibiotics, as the chemicals in the antibiotics have a scope of reaching the child through breast milk.
Limitations of Antibiotics:
Though antibiotics are very effective in treating certain critical health conditions, they are not the solution to every health problem. For instance, sore throat, cold, flu, sinusitis and cough are some of the viral infections. They are caused by certain viruses. Hence, antibiotics which act on bacteria have no effect on them.
If antibiotic is used in the cases of viral infection, one side antibiotics will not work in anyway. On other side, the body gets used to the antibiotic and its effectiveness decreases when used in another instance of bacterial infection. Further, use of antibiotic in unnecessary cases or using more than the prescribed does can prove harmful.
So, it is necessary to study about the antibiotics before using them for any kind of health problem.
Types of Antibiotics:
There are 10 classes among the antibiotics. Every antibiotic falls in any one category among them. The antibiotics in a particular class have similar chemical and pharmacological properties. They may have similarity in chemical structure. The drugs belonging to a particular class may kill the bacteria related to that class or one similar to it.
Precautions while using antibiotic:
Though certain antibiotics may belong to same class, it is not suggested to use one antibiotic in the case of bacterial infection other than what it was intended to work for. Antibiotics of different classes are specially prepared to fight a certain class of bacteria. So, it is not a good practice to use or give the left over antibiotics to someone with a similar health problem.
The thumb rule in dealing with antibiotics is to use it only when prescribed by a qualified doctor and in the prescribed dosage. It is equally important to use the antibiotics for the complete course period as suggested by the doctor, even if the symptoms of the health problem subside in between the period of course. If used judiciously Antibiotics can prove very helpful in getting rid of many kinds of health issues.