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Pronounced: buy-AX-in
Generic name: Clarithromycin
Other brand name: Biaxin XL

Why is this drug prescribed: Biaxin, an antibiotic chemically related to erythromycin, is used to treat certain bacterial infections of the respiratory tract, including: Strep throat Pneumonia Sinusitis (inflamed sinuses) Tonsillitis (inflamed tonsils) Acute middle ear infections Acute flare-ups of chronic bronchitis (inflamed airways) Biaxin is also prescribed to treat infections of the skin. Combined with Prilosec or Prevacid and amoxicillin, it is used to cure ulcers near the exit from the stomach (duodenal ulcers) caused by H. pylori bacteria. It can also be prescribed to combat Mycobacterium avium infections in people with AIDS. Biaxin is available in tablet and suspension form, and in extended-release tablets (Biaxin XL). The extended-release form is used only for sinus inflammation and flare-ups of bronchitis.

Most important fact about this drug: Biaxin, like any other antibiotic, works best when there is a constant amount of drug in the blood. To keep the amount constant, try not to miss any doses.

How should you take this medication: You may take Biaxin suspension or tablets with or without food. Biaxin XL, however, should always be taken with food. Do not chew or crush Biaxin XL tablets. Shake Biaxin suspension before each dose and use it within 14 days. Take the medication exactly as prescribed, and be sure to continue taking it for the full course of treatment. --If you miss a dose... Take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, take the one you missed and take the next one 5 to 6 hours later. Then go back to your regular schedule. --Storage instructions... Store at room temperature in a tightly closed container, away from light. Do not refrigerate the suspension.

What side effects may occur: Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any side effects develop or change in intensity, tell your doctor immediately. Only your doctor can determine whether it is safe for you to continue taking Biaxin. More common side effects may include: Abdominal pain, abnormal taste, diarrhea, nausea, rash, vomiting Less common side effects may include: Headache, indigestion Rare side effects may include: Allergic reactions, altered sense of smell, anxiety, behavior changes, confusion, convulsions, disorientation, dizziness, fungal infections of the mouth, hallucinations, hearing loss, inflammation of the mouth, liver problems, mental problems, nightmares, pancreatitis, ringing in the ears, sleeplessness, tongue discoloration or swelling, tooth discoloration, tremor, vertigo, very low blood sugar Side effects of Biaxin XL are generally milder than those of regular Biaxin. They may include diarrhea, abnormal taste, and nausea.

Why should this drug not be prescribed: Do not take Biaxin if you have ever had an allergic reaction to it, or if you are sensitive to it or erythromycin, or similar antibiotics such as Tao and Zithromax. Also avoid Biaxin if you have a heart condition or an imbalance in the body's water and minerals; and do not take the drug while taking Orap, Propulsid, or Seldane.

Special warnings about this medication: If you have severe kidney disease, the doctor may need to prescribe a smaller dose of Biaxin. Make sure the doctor is aware of any kidney problems you may have. Like other antibiotics, Biaxin may cause a potentially life-threatening form of diarrhea that signals a condition called pseudomembranous colitis (inflammation of the large intestine). Mild diarrhea, a fairly common Biaxin side effect, may disappear as your body gets used to the drug. However, if Biaxin gives you prolonged or severe diarrhea, stop taking the drug and call your doctor immediately.

Possible food and drug interactions when taking this medication: If Biaxin is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either can be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Biaxin with the following: Alprazolam (Xanax) Blood thinners such as Coumadin Bromocriptine (Parlodel) Carbamazepine (Tegretol) Cholesterol-lowering drugs such as Mevacor and Zocor Cilostazol (Pletal) Cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Neoral) Digoxin (Lanoxin) Disopyramide (Norpace) Ergot-based migraine drugs such as Cafergot, DHE, Sansert, and Wigraine Fluconazole (Diflucan) Hexobarbital Methylprednisolone (Medrol) Midazolam (Versed) Phenytoin (Dilantin) Quinidine (Quinidex) Pimozide (Orap) Rifabutin (Mycobutin) Ritonavir (Norvir) Sildenafil (Viagra) Tacrolimus (Prograf) Theophylline (Slo-Phyllin, Theo-Dur, others) Triazolam (Halcion) Valproate (Depakene, Depakote) Zidovudine (Retrovir)

Special information if you are pregnant or breastfeeding: If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, notify your doctor immediately. Since Biaxin may have the potential to cause birth defects, it is prescribed during pregnancy only when there is no alternative. Caution is advised when using Biaxin while breastfeeding. Biaxin may appear in breast milk, as does its chemical cousin, erythromycin.

Recommended dosage: Adults: Respiratory, ear, and skin infections: Your doctor will carefully tailor your individual dosage of Biaxin depending upon the type of infection and organism causing it. The usual dose varies from 250 to 500 milligrams every 12 hours for 7 to 14 days. Duodenal ulcers: You can expect one of the following treatment regimens: 500 milligrams of Biaxin, 30 milligrams of Prevacid, and 1 gram amoxicillin every 12 hours for 10 or 14 days. 500 milligrams of Biaxin, 20 milligrams of Prilosec, and 1 gram amoxicillin every 12 hours for 10 days. Some patients need to continue taking 20 milligrams of Prilosec on a once-daily basis for an additional 18 days. 500 milligrams of Biaxin every 8 hours plus 40 milligrams of Prilosec every morning for 14 days. Some patients need to continue taking Prilosec at a reduced dosage of 20 milligrams once a day for an additional 14 days. 500 milligrams of Biaxin every 8 or 12 hours plus 400 milligrams of Tritec every 12 hours for 14 days. Some patients need to continue taking 400 milligrams of Tritec every 12 hours for an additional 14 days. Mycobacterium Avium infections: For prevention or treatment, the recommended dose is 500 milligrams twice a day. Children: Biaxin is not recommended for children under 6 months of age. The dose for children older than 6 months depends on how much the child weighs. Biaxin is usually given twice a day for 10 days.

Overdosage: Any medication taken in excess can have serious consequences. If you suspect an overdose, seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms of Biaxin overdose may include: Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting

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