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Erythromycin (Chlamydia)

Erythromycin is an antibiotic that is available in both tablet and liquid form (the latter is known as a suspension solution). This medication can be used to treat a wide range of conditions caused by bacteria, including sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia.

In regards to treating chlamydia, Erythromycin is considered a second-line treatment. This means that it is not among the medications doctors will pick first when prescribing treatment for a patient who has chlamydia. However, if the first-line treatments are unavailable or deemed unsuitable for a patient, then Erythromycin may be prescribed instead.

While it isn’t a first-line treatment, this medication does have all the necessary ingredients to eliminate the bacteria contained in Chlamydia. Users of Erythromycin could start to feel much better just a few days after they start using this medication. This medication can be used by both adults and children to combat numerous types of bacterial infections, provided they don’t have certain medical conditions or are taking certain medicines which make Erythromycin best to avoid.

Last PIL Review Date: 13/01/2020

Please see Erythromycin Patient Information Leaflet

This medicine is not available to request via our online service. If you are still having trouble with your symptoms please visit the NHS website for services in your area.

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Erythromycin (Chlamydia)
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Dr. Diana Gall GMC No. 7685129

Dr Diana Gall graduated from medical school in 2005 and has since undertaken further intensive training in many different areas of medicine. Dr Diana has reached consultant level and has practiced medicine all over Europe.

Shamir Patel GPHC No. 2049338

Shamir is a well-respected pharmacist with extensive experience running online pharmacies in the UK.

What is Erythromycin

Erythromycin is an antibiotic and second line treatment for chlamydia. While Azithromycin and Doxycycline are more commonly issued to patients who have chlamydia, those two drugs are not always suitable to a patient, meaning Erythromycin could be prescribed as an alternative.

As well as chlamydia, Erythromycin can also be used to treat chest infections, skin conditions (like acne and rosacea), dental abscesses and other sexually transmitted infections besides chlamydia. Erythromycin may also be prescribed to children to treat ear or eye infections or various other bacterial infections. This medicine can be taken as either a standard tablet or in a liquid form called suspension solution.

While Erythromycin tablets are a generic version of the medication, the oral suspension is made by Amdipharm.

How does Erythromycin work?

In both tablet and liquid forms, Erythromycin is adept at tackling numerous types of bacterial infections, which is why it is more commonly prescribed for other conditions besides chlamydia. Against chlamydia, Erythromycin works by neutralising the bacteria’s capacity for growth.

It does this by preventing the release of an enzyme that the infection usually produces and feeds on in order to spread. When the bacteria can’t produce the enzyme that lets it grow, it gets destroyed by the body’s natural defences and the infection clears away.

Who can take Erythromycin?

Erythromycin tablets and suspension solution can be taken by both adults and children. If you are a pregnant or breastfeeding woman, you’ll likely be safe taking this medication, but you should inform your doctor before you start. You can read this leaflet on the Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPS) website to learn more about how Erythromycin can affect you while pregnant or breastfeeding.

If you have or have ever experienced certain health conditions, then Erythromycin is not a suitable medication to use. You should talk to your doctor to check Erythromycin can be used if any of the following apply to you:

  • Had an allergic reaction to Erythromycin or other antibiotics
  • Liver or kidney problems
  • Had diarrhoea when taking antibiotics before
  • Fast, pounding or irregular heartbeats
  • A rare blood disorder called porphyria
  • A muscle-weakening illness called myasthenia gravis
  • You have syphilis and you’re pregnant

What are the side effects of Erythromycin?

Like with all medicines, Erythromycin can cause side effects, but not everyone gets them. The most common potential side effects include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bloating and indigestion

You should talk to your doctor or pharmacist if any of these side effects prove especially troublesome, or if they don’t go away. More serious side effects are far less common, but there is potential for them and you should call a doctor as soon as possible if you experience any of them. Some of the more severe side effects could be linked to an allergic reaction to this medication. The more serious potential side effects include:

  • Chest pains or abnormal heart beating
  • Skin rash
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Ringing in the ears or temporary hearing loss
  • Yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes
  • Pale poo or dark pee
  • High temperature (38C or above)

How long should I take Erythromycin for?

You should take Erythromycin as many times a day as your doctor prescribes. The medicine is usually taken 2 or 4 times a day. It will depend on your age and severity of your condition. For most infections, Erythromycin should make you feel better within a few days after you start taking it. Make sure you carry on taking the full course of medicine even if you do begin feeling better, otherwise you risk letting the infection come back.

Avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice while you’re taking Erythromycin.

What if I take too much or too little Erythromycin?

If you or one of your children accidently takes more of this medicine than they should, you should contact your doctor or nearest hospital emergency department as soon as possible.

Anyone who takes more Erythromycin than they are supposed to are more susceptible to the medication’s potential side effects. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and loss of hearing are the symptoms most likely to occur if you take too much of this medication.

If you forget to take a dose of this medication, you should take it as soon as you remember, unless it’s nearly time for your next scheduled dose. If you only remember a missed dose just before you’re next one is due, you should just leave out the missed dose.

If you miss doses on a regular basis, then the infection in your body may take longer to remove, but never take 2 doses at the same time to make up for a missed dose.

What medicines should I avoid taking with Erythromycin?

There are a variety of medications which do not mix well with Erythromycin and can create serious side effects if you take both. You should tell your doctor if you’re taking any of these medicines before you start using Erythromycin:

  • Antihistamine medicines including Astemizole, Terfenadine or Mizolastine
  • Domperidone (anti-sickness)
  • Pimozide and Amisulpride (taken for mental health issues)
  • Ergotamine and Dihydroergotamine (taken for migraines)
  • Simvastatin (taken for cholesterol-lowering)
  • Tolterodine (taken for bladder weakness)
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