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What Are the Most Common Uses for Erythromycin Tablets?

Erythromycin tablets are most commonly prescribed to treat bacterial infections.
Those taking erythromycin should avoid eating grapefruits or products made from the fruit.
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  • Written By: K.C. Bruning
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2014
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Erythromycin tablets are most commonly prescribed to treat bacterial infections. Some of the specific conditions it treats include bronchitis, pneumonia, venereal disease (VD), and whooping cough, which is also known as pertussis. It is also often used to prevent attacks associated with rheumatic fever and bacterial endocarditis. Erythromycin tablets are marketed under the brand name PCE®.

Several kinds of common bacterial illnesses can be treated by erythromycin tablets, including infection of the ears, intestines, lungs, skin, and urinary tract. It can also treat Legionnaires’ disease and diphtheria. As a preventative measure, dentists and doctors may prescribe the drug before dental work or surgery.

Erythromycin tablets are an antibiotic that works by reducing the growth of the proteins bacteria need to flourish. This both kills and stops the proliferation of new bacteria. Being an antibiotic, these tablets are not effective against viral infections, however.

The tablets are usually prescribed to be taken at least four times a day for anywhere from a week to three weeks. The drug comes in both chewable and regular tablets. Regular erythromycin tablets must be consumed whole, as crushing or chewing them can reduce the effectiveness of the drug. Grapefruit or grapefruit juice can also prevent the tablets from working properly. In order to completely end an infection, the entire prescribed cycle of erythromycin tablets must be completed.

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Erythromycin tablets may be too risky or at least require special dosage or observation for patients with certain previous conditions. It is important to disclose all past and present experiences with diarrhea, stomach or intestinal infection, and heart problems. Kidney or liver disease, myasthenia gravis, and a blood disease called porphyria may also be problematic. Women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or nursing are typically advised not to take the tablets.

The most common side effects of erythromycin are mild and need only be discussed with a doctor if they become severe or persist. These include pain, cramps, or an upset feeling in the stomach. Patients may also experience vomiting, diarrhea, and a mild skin rash.

More severe side effects of taking erythromycin tablets should be reported to a doctor as soon as possible. These include uncharacteristic tiredness, vaginal infection, and a yellowing of the eyes and skin known as jaundice. Some patients may also have pale stools or dark urine. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to the drug, which can include hives, breathing problems, wheezing, and itching, should receive immediate medical attention.

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burcidi
Post 3

I think erythromycin is usually prescribed for infections that are really hard to get rid of because it's a much stronger antibiotic. I'm usually prescribed this, not necessarily because I'm dealing with a chronic infection but because I'm allergic to penicillin and this is one of the few antibiotics that I can use.

My friend used this just recently though for an upper airway infection which is one of the common uses of erythromycin. I know that if an infection in the upper and lower airways persists for a long time, it could develop into pneumonia or even worse. So that's why she was given it.

burcinc
Post 2

@anamur-- I was on erythromycin recently too. My doctor prescribed it to treat the sebaceous cysts on my back. It worked really well, completely cleared out the infection in the nodules.

I also had some stomach upset and stomach cramps but no diarrhea thankfully. My doctor warned me about the erythromycin side effects when he prescribed it. He said that this is the antibiotic that would help my condition the most and would work fast but I could have bad side effects. He told me to give him a call if that happens so that we can switch to another antibiotic if need be.

I didn't switch though because it was only for seven days. So I suck it up and took it and I'm glad I did. I haven't had a recurrence of my cysts since.

serenesurface
Post 1

My brother in law was on erythromycin tablets. He was diagnosed with pleurisy. It's where the lining of the lung cavity gets infected and inflamed. He was already in a lot of pain because of the pleurisy and erythromycin's side effects didn't help his condition much.

We were over at their place for Thanksgiving when he was on it and the poor chap couldn't come out of the bathroom. He had terrible diarrhea and stomach cramps from it.

He still managed to finish the entire course though and it did help kill the infection. From what I understand, erythromycin is an effective drug and works well but does cause some sickness.

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