Azithromycin is an antibiotic drug commonly used to treat bacterial infections. It works by attaching to a cellular structure in bacteria that assists in manufacturing proteins needed for normal operation, and inhibits this manufacturing process, killing the bacteria as a result. This potent method of interfering with microbes, along with the fact that it does not affect human cells, make it a very effective antibiotic. Doctors prescribe azithromycin for strep, along with many other common bacterial illnesses such as ear infections, pneumonia, and traveler's diarrhea.
Strep infections are caused by several different species of related bacteria in the same biological group, called a genus. This medication actually can target all of the bacteria in this genus, meaning azithromycin for strep infections of any type will be an effective option. Following several administrations of azithromycin, this medication may remain in the body for up to 68 hours, providing long-term protection from strep and other harmful bacteria.
This antibiotic can be given in both oral and intravenous (IV) forms. Single-dose packets of powder medication are sometimes given, which can be mixed in a drink. Using this form of azithromycin for strep infections in children is quite useful, because younger children often have trouble swallowing tablets. Alternately, a concentrated liquid form of the medication is available, which is given by the teaspoon (tsp).
For adults, oral tablets can be used to administer azithromycin. Nauseous patients or those with sore throats may have trouble swallowing tablets, and in these cases, the IV form of the antibiotic can be given. Medical professionals are usually the ones to administer this drug intravenously in a hospital or clinical setting, however, and patients are given oral prescriptions to take at home.
This drug does not interfere with human cells due to differences in the way that animals and bacteria create proteins. Consequently, side effects of azithromycin are relatively rare, and the drug is well-tolerated in most patients. For this reason, using azithromycin for strep treatments in infants and the elderly is a valid option, which further increases the utility of this drug.
Some drug interactions can occur with azithromycin, so doctors must know which medications a patient takes before prescribing this antibiotic. It can lower the effectiveness of birth control pills, and elevate levels of other medications in the body, such as the blood medication warfarin. Potential interactions may sometimes keep doctors from prescribing azithromycin, but a doctor will often be able to create a safe dosing schedule in the event of an infection.