How does Clarithromycin (Klaricid) work?
Klaricid tablets, paediatric suspension, adult sachets and injection all contain the active ingredient clarithromycin, which is a type of medicine known as a macrolide antibiotic. It is used to treat infections caused by bacteria. (NB. Clarithromycin is also available without a brand name, ie as the generic medicine.)
Clarithromycin works by preventing bacteria from producing proteins that are essential to them. Without these proteins the bacteria cannot grow, replicate and increase in numbers. Clarithromycin doesn'’t directly kill the bacteria, but leaves them unable to increase in numbers. The remaining bacteria eventually die or are destroyed by the immune system. This treats the infection.
Clarithromycin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that is active against a wide variety of bacteria that cause a wide variety of infections. Clarithromycin may be used to treat infections of the upper or lower airways, skin or soft tissue, or ears.
Clarithromycin is also used to eradicate a type of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) from the gut. The presence of these bacteria in the gut is associated with ulcers of the stomach and duodenum (an area of the intestine directly after the stomach). Eradicating H pylori from the gut allows ulcers to heal and also helps prevent them recurring. Clarithromycin is used in combination with a proton pump inhibitor such as lansoprazole or omeprazole and the antibiotics metronidazole or amoxicillin for this purpose (triple therapy). Proton pump inhibitors reduce the production of acid in the stomach and help create an environment in the stomach in which the antibiotic can work more effectively against the bacteria. They also help the ulcer to heal.
To make sure the bacteria causing an infection are susceptible to clarithromycin your doctor may take a tissue sample, for example a swab from the throat or skin, or a sputum sample.
What is Clarithromycin (Klaricid) used for?
- Bacterial infections of the lungs (chest or lower respiratory tract infections), eg bronchitis, pneumonia.
- Bacterial infections of the nasal passages, sinuses or throat (upper respiratory tract infections) eg sinusitis, pharyngitis.
- Bacterial infections of the skin or soft tissue, eg cellulitis, folliculitis or erysipelas.
- Bacterial infections of the middle ear (otitis media).
- Lyme disease.
- Eradicating Helicobacter pylori bacteria from the gut in people with peptic ulcers.
How do I take Clarithromycin (Klaricid)?
- The dose of this medicine and how long it needs to be taken for depends on the type of infection you have and your age. Follow the instructions given by your doctor. These will be printed on the dispensing label that your pharmacist has put on the packet of medicine.
- Clarithromycin is usually taken twice a day (every 12 hours). It can be taken either with or without food.
- Klaricid adult sachets contain granules that should be mixed with a small amount of water before taking.
- Bottles of Klaricid paediatric suspension should be shaken before measuring out a dose. Only use the measuring spoon provided with the suspension. You should not use a regular teaspoon or tablespoon to take the medicine, as this will not give an accurate dose.
- Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, it is important that you finish the prescribed course of this antibiotic medicine, even if you feel better or it seems the infection has cleared up. Stopping the course early increases the chance that the infection will come back and that the bacteria will grow resistant to the antibiotic.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Certain medicines should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding. However, other medicines may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Always inform your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, before using any medicine.
- The safety of this medicine during pregnancy has not been established. It should not be used in pregnant women unless the expected benefit to the mother is greater than any possible risk to the developing baby. Seek medical advice from your doctor.
- This medicine passes into breast milk, but the effect on the nursing infant is unknown. It should not be used in breastfeeding women unless the expected benefit to the mother is greater than any possible risk to the nursing infant. Seek medical advice from your doctor.