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What Are the Different Uses of Azithromycin?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2014
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The uses of azithromycin include bacterial infections and prophylactic treatment to prevent infection in certain situations. Some doctors also prescribe the drug for asthma patients because it can moderate immune responses and decrease the severity of asthma. This antibacterial drug can be effective against a broad range of infections, and tends to be useful in cases where infections do not respond to other medications. In response to concerns about antibiotic resistance, doctors may be careful about recommending azithromycin.

Patients with active infections like pneumonia, sinusitis, and ear infections may benefit from this medication. The uses of azithromycin also include some sexually transmitted infections. Many formulations can be taken just once a day, which makes it easier to adhere to the therapy. A doctor’s recommendations for length of treatment and dose can depend on the nature of the infection and the patient’s medical history. In some cases, it may be necessary to perform a culture first, to determine if an infection will respond to the medication.

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Other uses of azithromycin include preventative therapy to prevent infection in people with immune compromise. Patients may receive this medication before and after certain procedures to limit the chance of bacterial endocarditis, a potentially serious heart infection. It can also be given to people who may have been exposed to infectious agents because of rape or intimate contact during patient care, like a situation where a care provider’s glove tears open while working on a patient known to have an active infection. This prophylactic therapy can prevent the onset of infection.

Asthma therapy is another application for this medication. This particular use is off-label, not approved by government regulators, and it has not been extensively studied for efficacy and dosage recommendations. Some studies on the uses of azithromycin in asthma therapy suggest it can be helpful, while others are more inconclusive. As a result, not all doctors will prescribe it, and some may have suggestions for alternatives they believe are more appropriate or helpful.

Questions about the uses of azithromycin can be brought up with a doctor or pharmacist. Patients with allergies to certain antibiotics cannot take this medication, and it can also potentially interact poorly with other medications. A complete patient history should include all medications and preparations a patient takes, as well as any history of allergies, to allow a care provider to determine if the medication is safe. Signs of allergic reactions like swelling, rashes, and difficulty breathing should be reported to a doctor.

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