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What is Biaxin®?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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Biaxin® is a prescription antibiotic that is used to treat several different types of skin, lung, and sinus infections. It works by disrupting bacterial metabolism, thereby stopping bacteria from growing and reproducing. In most cases, the antibiotic clears up infections in less than two weeks without causing significant negative side effects. Biaxin® and its generic form, clarithromycin, is available at most pharmacies in the United States. The drug is sold under different brand names in other countries.

A doctor may prescribe Biaxin® to combat respiratory tract problems, such as bronchitis or pneumonia, when he or she is certain symptoms are caused by bacterial agents. Viruses, fungi, and other types of pathogens are unresponsive to clarithromycin antibiotics, so a series of tests are usually performed at the doctor's office to confirm that bacteria are responsible for lung problems. Moderate to severe sinus infections, bacterial tonsillitis, and throat infections can also be treated with the antibiotic. A patient may also get a prescription to treat active skin infections that develop after being cut, scraped, or bitten by an animal or insect.

Biaxin® is available in tablet, liquid solution, and extended-release capsule form. Most adult patients are instructed to take one tablet or liquid dose every 12 hours for about two weeks. The extended-release capsule can be taken once a day for a one- to two-week course. A doctor may provide special instructions for taking the drug based on the patient's specific condition. It is important for a person to finish the entire prescribed course, even if he or she starts feeling better, to ensure that all bacteria have been eradicated.

The most common side effects with Biaxin® include mild nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and heartburn. A patient may also have headaches, dizzy spells, and feelings of fatigue that are related to both the infection and the medication. An allergic reaction to Biaxin® can become serious and cause hives, throat and tongue swelling, and breathing difficulties. Rarely, the drug can cause a racing, pounding heartbeat and severe body-wide aches that require emergency medical attention.

Most people who take Biaxin® according to their doctors' instructions do not experience major side effects. Other prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs may impair the effectiveness of Biaxin®, so it is very important for a patient to inform the doctor of his or her current medication, vitamin, and supplement use. He or she should also contact the doctor before starting another drug during the two-week course of treatment.

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