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Antibiotic medications - macrolides

Macrolide antibiotic medications include:

  • Azithromycin (Zithromax and Zmax)
  • Clarithromycin (Biaxin and Biaxin XL)
  • Erythromycin (E-Mycin and E.E.S. 400)
  • Fidaxomicin (Dificid)


Good Bacteria

Taking azithromycin, clarithromycin, or erythromycin may deplete good bacteria.

There are many types of good bacteria that live in your intestine. They help keep your digestive system healthy. Two of these bacteria are Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum.

Good bacteria help you to:

  • Fight against infections and diseases
  • Digest food

Use of some medicines may deplete good bacteria.  If you do not have enough probiotics in your gut, you may have:

  • Gas
  • Stomach problems
  • Diarrhea
  • More serious infections in your intestine
  • Increased risk of allergies

Some foods called probiotics contain good bacteria, and can help return your gut to normal.

Editorial Note

The information presented here covers some of the nutrients that may be affected when you take certain medicines. If you have any of these signs and symptoms, it does not always mean you have low levels of these nutrients.

Factors that affect the level of nutrients are:

  • Your medical history
  • Diet
  • Lifestyle
  • How long you have been taking the medicine

Please talk to your health care provider. They can best address your health care needs and see if you are at risk for low levels of any nutrients.

Supporting Research

Gold Standard Drug Database: Drug Monograph: Azithromycin, 2016.!/content/drug_monograph/6-s2.0-53. Accessed July 7, 2016.

Gold Standard Drug Database: Drug Monograph: Clarithromycin, 2016.!/content/drug_monograph/6-s2.0-131. Accessed July 7, 2016.

Gold Standard Drug Database: Drug Monograph: Erythromycin 2016.!/content/drug_monograph/6-s2.0-226. Accessed July 7, 2016.

Gold Standard Drug Database: Drug Monograph: Fidaxomicin, 2015.!/content/drug_monograph/6-s2.0-3729. Accessed July 15, 2016.

Harrison GJ. Probiotics. In: Cherry JD, Demmler-Harrison GJ, Kaplan SL, Steinbach WJ, Hotez PJ, eds. Feigin and Cherry's Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 242.

Shenkin A, Roberts NB. Vitamins and trace elements. In: Burtis CA, Ashwood ER, Bruns DE, eds. Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostics. 5th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 31.





Review Date: 9/19/2016  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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