What Is Erythromycin Used For?

Several bacterial infections can be treated or prevented with erythromycin, such as pneumonia, chlamydia, and acne. Off-label uses for erythromycin include treating diabetic gastroparesis. This drug is not appropriate for all bacterial infections, and its use may even be dependent on the area in which a person lives. Children can take most forms of erythromycin; however, products used to treat acne should not be given to children under age 12.

An Introduction to Uses for Erythromycin

Erythromycin is a prescription antibiotic. It is available in several different forms and is approved for a variety of different uses. Oral or injectable forms of erythromycin are approved to treat the following infections:
  • Various respiratory tract infections, such as pertussis (whooping cough) and pneumonia
  • Listeriosis
  • Skin infections
  • Diphtheria
  • Intestinal ameba infections
  • Acute pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Syphilis
  • Chlamydia
  • Legionnaires' disease.
In addition, injectable or oral erythromycin is used to prevent rheumatic fever in people with streptococcal infections of the upper respiratory tract, such as "strep throat." Oral erythromycin is also approved for long-term use to prevent recurrent attacks of rheumatic fever.
In general, penicillin is the drug of choice for these uses, and erythromycin is typically prescribed only for people who are allergic to penicillin.
Erythromycin eye ointment is used to treat various eye infections. It is also routinely used in newborns to prevent serious eye infections. The skin products are used to treat acne.
This medication is approved for treating infections only when they are caused by certain types of bacteria. Not all bacteria will respond to erythromycin. Also, bacteria have different resistance patterns in different regions of the country. This means that some bacteria may be susceptible to erythromycin in certain parts of the country but not in others.
This drug is completely ineffective for treating viral illnesses, such as the common cold or the flu.
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Erythromycin Antibiotic Information

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