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Prescription vs.OTC: Prescription by Doctor required
Last Updated: December 14, 2018

A macrolide antibiotic, Clarithromycin is used in the treatment of infections caused by bacteria. The infections may include pneumonia, respiratory tract infections, lyme disease, strep throat, skin infections, H. pylori infection, among others. It is categorised as an broad-spectrum antibiotic which protects against mycoplasma, chlamydia and mycobacteria and other gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. It works by decreasing protein production of these bacteria. It is available in the form of tablets, pills and liquids.

Common side effects of Clarithromycin may include diarrhoea, stomach pain, nausea, abnormal taste in mouth, headache and vomiting. In mild cases, these effects go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. Severe allergic reactions are very rare.

Ensure to never take Clarithromycin if –

  • You are allergic to Clarithromycin or similar antibiotics.
  • You are suffering from heart rhythm disorder and have a history of long QT syndrome(Long QT syndrome refers to a heart rhythm disorder that can potentially cause rapid heartbeats, irregular heart rhythms and even dealth).
  • You have kidney or liver problems.

Medicines like cisapride, primozide, ergotamine and lovastain cause life-threatening interactions with Clarithromycin and therefore should not be taken without consulting a doctor.Clarithromycin should not be used during pregnancy except in cases where no alternative medication is available as it may potentially cause harm to the foetus. This drug enters breast milk in mild quantities which usually does not affect the infant. However, let your doctor know if you are breastfeeding.

The amount your doctor prescribes and how long you take it depend on your age, medical condition and its severity and your reaction to the first dose.

Information given here is based on the salt and content of the medicine. Effect and uses of medicine may vary from person to person. It is advicable to consult a Internal Medicine Specialist before using this medicine.

  • Tonsilitis/Pharyngitis

    Clarithromycin is used in the treatment of Tonsilitis/Pharyngitis caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophillus influenzae and some fungal infections.
  • Bronchitis

    Clarithromycin is used in the treatment of Bronchitis which is an inflammation in lungs caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and some Mycoplasma pneumoniae.
  • Pneumonia

    Clarithromycin is used in the treatment of Pneumonia which is a common type of lung infection caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae.
  • Helicobacter pylori Infection

    Clarithromycin is used in the treatment of the infection of the stomach characterized by ulcers. It is caused by helicobacter pylori bacteria.
  • Skin and Structure Infection

    Clarithromycin is used to treat skin and structure infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes.
  • Allergy

    Avoid taking this medicine if you have a known allergy to it or any other macrolides.
  • Impaired Liver function

    Clarithromycin is not recommended in the patients with the history of any liver injury.
  • How long is the duration of effect?

    The effect of this medicine lasts for an average duration of 9 to 21 hours for an Immediate release.
  • What is the onset of action?

    The peak effect of this medicine can be observed in 2 to 3 hours for an immediate release tablet and 5 to 8 hours for an extended release tablet.
  • Are there any pregnancy warnings?

    This medicine is not recommended for use during pregnancy unless absolutely necessary. Consult your doctor about the potential benefits and risks before deciding to take this medicine.
  • Is it habit forming?

    No habit forming tendency has been reported.
  • Are there any breast-feeding warnings?

    This medicine is not recommended for breastfeeding women unless absolutely necessary. Consult your doctor about the potential benefits and risks before deciding to take this medicine. Monitoring of undesired effects like diarrhea, candidiasis (thrush, diaper rash) is necessary.
  • Missed Dose instructions

    The missed dose can be taken as soon as you remember. However, the missed dose should be skipped if it is almost time for your next dose.
  • Overdose instructions

    Seek emergency medical treatment or contact the doctor in case of an overdose.
  • India

  • United States

  • Japan

Below is the list of medicines, which contains Clarithromycin as ingredient

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Clarithromycin is a macrolide antibiotic that stops the growth of bacteria by inhibiting protein synthesis. It binds reversibly to the 50S ribosomal subunits which prevent peptidyl transferase activity which in turn interferes with the translocation process thus preventing peptide chain elongation.

Whenever you take more than one medicine, or mix it with certain foods or beverages, you"re at risk of a drug interaction.

  • Interaction with Disease

    QT Prolongation

    Inform your doctor if you have arrhythmia, any heart disease or drugs that prolong QT interval such as psychiatric drugs and anti-arrhythmic drugs.


    Avoid taking Clarithromycin if you experience severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, and blood in stools after taking the medicine. Inform the doctor if you have any gastrointestinal diseases. Drink adequate amount of water to prevent dehydration.
  • Interaction with Alcohol


    Interaction with alcohol is unknown. It is advisable to consult your doctor before consumption.
  • Interaction with Lab Test


    Information not available.
  • Interaction with Food


    Information not available.
  • Interaction with Medicine


    Clarithromycin may increase the blood levels of clonazepam. Any symptoms of drowsiness, anxiety and breathing difficulties should be reported to the doctor. Operating heavy machinery or driving a vehicle should be avoided. Dose adjustments or an alternate medicine should be considered based on the clinical condition.


    Combined use of these medicines may increase the risk of irregular heartbeats and also may increase the blood levels of amiodarone. Any symptoms of dizziness, lightheadedness, fast heartbeats should be reported to the doctor. An alternate medicine should be considered based on the clinical condition.

    Ethinyl Estradiol

    The desired effect of contraceptive pills will not be achieved if these medicines are taken together. Appropriate dose adjustments or replacement of the medicine should be made under the doctor's supervision.


    Clarithromycin may increase the levels of atorvastatin and may cause serious muscle injury and kidney injury. Any symptoms of dark colored urine, swelling of limbs, joint pain should be reported to the doctor. An alternate medicine should be considered based on the clinical condition.
Disclaimer: The information produced here is best of our knowledge and experience and we have tried our best to make it as accurate and up-to-date as possible, but we would like to request that it should not be treated as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Lybrate is a medium to provide our audience with the common information on medicines and does not guarantee its accuracy or exhaustiveness. Even if there is no mention of a warning for any drug or combination, it never means that we are claiming that the drug or combination is safe for consumption without any proper consultation with an expert.

Lybrate does not take responsibility for any aspect of medicines or treatments. If you have any doubts about your medication, we strongly recommend you to see a doctor immediately.

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Table of Content
About Clarithromycin
What are the uses of Clarithromycin
What are the contraindications of Clarithromycin ?
What are the side effects of Clarithromycin ?
Key highlights of Clarithromycin
What are the dosage instructions?
Where is the Clarithromycin approved?
Medicines containing Clarithromycin
How does this medication work?
What are the interactions of Clarithromycin ?