What is erythromycin?
Erythromycin is an antibacterial prescription medicine approved by the U.S.(FDA) for the treatment of several caused by certain types of bacteria, such as certain respiratory tract infections, skin infections, and . Erythromycin is also FDA-approved to prevent rheumatic fever (a complication of untreated strep throat or scarlet fever) and bacterial endocarditis (a type of heart infection).
Some bacterial infections can be What is an Opportunistic Infection? fact sheet.(OIs) of HIV. An OI is an infection that occurs more frequently or is more severe in people with weakened immune systems—such as people with HIV—than in people with healthy . To learn more about OIs, read the HIVinfo
How is erythromycin used in people with HIV?
The Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV include recommendations on the use of erythromycin to treat certain caused by the bacteria Bartonella (also called ), including:
- Cat scratch disease (an infection spread by cats that commonly affects )
- Bacillary angiomatosis and peliosis hepatis (infections affecting the skin and )
- Bacteremia (infection of the blood)
- Osteomyelitis (infection of the bone)
- Other severe infections
The recommended uses may not always be consistent with FDA-approved uses of erythromycin. See the Guidelines for complete information on recommended uses of erythromycin in adults and adolescents with HIV. Erythromycin may have other recommended uses not listed above.
What should I tell my health care provider before using erythromycin?
Before using erythromycin, tell your health care provider:
- If you are allergic to erythromycin or any other medicines.
- About any medical conditions you have or have had, including:
- Heart problems or an irregular heartbeat, especially a problem called “QT prolongation”
- Myasthenia gravis (a disease that causes muscle weakness)
- Low potassium or low magnesium
- About anything that could affect your ability to take medicines, such as difficulty swallowing pills, difficulty remembering to take pills, or any health conditions that may prevent your use of medicines.
- If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Talk to your health care provider about the risks and benefits of using erythromycin during pregnancy. The Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV may include other recommendations on the use of erythromycin during pregnancy. Please refer to these guidelines for additional information.
- If you are breast/chestfeeding or plan to breast/chestfeed. For people with HIV in the United States, the Guideline recommends speaking with your health care provider to discuss options for feeding your baby. People with suppressed viral load have a less than 1% chance of transmitting HIV to their baby via their own milk.
- About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Erythromycin may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how erythromycin works. Ask your health care provider if there are interactions between erythromycin and the other medicines you take.
Ask your health care provider about possible side effects from erythromycin. Your health care provider will tell you what to do if you have side effects.
How should I use erythromycin?
Use erythromycin according to your health care provider’s instructions. Your health care provider will tell you how much erythromycin to use and when to use it. Before you start erythromycin and each time you get a refill, read any printed information that comes with your medicine.
How should erythromycin be stored?
- Store erythromycin tablets at room temperature, 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C).
- Store erythromycin granules for oral suspension at room temperature, 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C). After mixing erythromycin granules with water as instructed by your health care provider or pharmacist, store the oral suspension in a refrigerator and use within 10 days.
- Store erythromycin delayed-release capsules between 59° F and 86° F (15° C and 30° C).
- Store erythromycin delayed-release tablets below 86°F (30°C).
- Store vials of erythromycin for injection at room temperature, 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C). Once the injection powder in the vial has been reconstituted (mixed) with sterile water, it is stable in a refrigerator for 2 weeks or at room temperature for 24 hours. Once the reconstituted solution is diluted, the final diluted solution should be used within 8 hours, because it is not suitable for storage.
- Keep erythromycin in the container that it came in and keep the container tightly closed.
- Do not use erythromycin if the original seal over the container opening is broken or missing.
- Throw away erythromycin that is no longer needed or expired (out of date). Follow FDA Guidelines on how to safely dispose of unused medicine.
- Keep erythromycin and all medicines out of reach of children.
Where can I find more information about erythromycin?
- Recommendations on the HIV-related uses of erythromycin, from the Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV.
- This Patient Version drug summary is based on the following FDA label(s): Tablet, granule (for suspension); Capsule (delayed release pellets); Tablet (delayed release); Injection (powder, lyophilized, for solution).
- The American Hospital Formulary Service (AHFS) Patient Medication Information for erythromycin available from MedlinePlus.
- Erythromycin-related research studies, from ClinicalTrials.gov. (The ClinicalTrials.gov search can be modified so that you can get results that better match your interests. To learn more about the ClinicalTrials.gov search features, please see How to Search.)
Last Reviewed: January 22, 2023