What is Clarithromycin?

The Clarithromycin is an antibiotic belonging to the class of macrolide; the latter constitute a large family of natural products , many of which exhibit antibiotic activity.The macrolides are molecules that act by interfering with protein synthesis of the pathogenic microorganism (exerted through binding to the 50S ribosomal subunit, which prevents the enzyme peptidyltransferase to determine the elongation of the nascent polypeptide chain) and behaving, consequently, blocking the growth – and multiplication – of the microbe. Macrolide antibiotics usually have a bacteriostatic action, but – if administered in high dosage – they also become bactericidal.

What is Clarithromycin used for?

It is used to deal with different types of infections:

  • upper (upper throat and sinus) and lower (bronchitis and pneumonia) airway infections;
  • skin and appendages infections of mild to moderate severity.

How is Clarithromycin taken?

It is administered orally (in the form of tablets, capsules or oral suspension) or parenterally (powder and solvent for intravenous or intramuscular injections). The duration of treatment varies according to the type of infection and can range from a few days to two weeks.

Side effects of Clarithromycin

Among the undesirable effects , already recognized on a scientific level, the following should be highlighted:

  • gastrointestinal disorders: discharge of diarrhea , feeling of nausea , retching, dyspepsia, pain in the abdomen, stomatitis, glossitis, changes in taste;
  • cardiovascular disorders (rarer): arrhythmia, tachycardia , prolongation of the QT interval;
  • central nervous system disorders: headache ;
  • abnormal liver function: increased transaminases (reversible);
  • dermatological disorders: skin rash , edema, urticaria , Stevens-Johnson syndrome;
  • in the case of injections, pain and swelling may occur in the area of ​​inoculation of the drug.

Contraindications and warnings associated with the use of Clarithromycin

Its administration is not recommended for patients with known hypersensitivity to Clarithromycin, to other macrolide antibiotics or to other components and excipients.

It should also not be used in subjects suffering from hypokalaemia (risk of prolongation of the QT interval) or severe liver failure in association with renal insufficiency and towards patients already suffering from QT prolongation, or ventricular tachycardia. Particular caution should be exercised when prescribing the drug to subjects suffering from liver or kidney dysfunction.

Since the safety of its use in pregnancy has not yet been established, the use of the drug at this stage is not recommended unless the benefits outweigh the risks. Given that Clarithromycin has been found in human milk, it is advisable not to take it during breastfeeding or at least to suspend the latter if Clarithromycin therapy is absolutely essential for the mother.

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