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Azithromycin is a first-line treatment for traveller’s diarrhoea caused by common bacterial infections in most countries. It is an antibiotic that kills diarrhoea-causing bacteria and reduces the symptoms and duration of traveller’s diarrhoea, especially when taken with loperamide. The dose of Azithromycin is one tablet daily for three days. Begin taking Azithromycin as soon as you develop diarrhoea, not before. It cannot be used as a preventative measure.
You can also take the anti-sickness tablet, Avomine, to minimize fluid loss and discomfort.
Azithromycin is the preferred antibiotic for treating travellers' diarrhoea in South Asia (India, Pakistan) or SE Asia (Thailand, Laos, etc.). In other parts of the world, the antibiotic ciprofloxacin is preferred.
Traveller's Diarrhoea is a common condition effecting 20-50% of international travellers. It usually occurs during the first two weeks of travel to a foreign country, especially in the developing world where it can effect up to 60% of travellers.
Symptoms of Traveller's Diarrhoea include passing three or more unformed stools within 24 hours, often accompanied by nausea, stomach pain, bloating, vomiting and/or fever.
Traveller's Diarrhoea can be contracted when the body is exposed to unfamiliar bacteria. Bacterial infections normally account for around 85% of cases. For the local population, these bacteria are often harmless but for a foreign traveller they may result in infection. Viruses and parasites may also account for a minority of traveller’s diarrhoea.
The organisms that cause traveller's diarrhoea include bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella, parasites such as Giardia and viruses like norovirus. These organisms can be contracted through contaminated food and beverages as well as contact with dirty hands and plates.
Avoiding contaminated foods is the most effective way to prevent Traveller's Diarrhoea. Basic precautions include:
Drink only safe water and beverages that have been boiled, bottled or distilled. Avoid tap water and hot drinks which have not been boiled.
Avoid ice cubes as they may be made with contaminated tap water.
Avoid ice-cream and other frozen desserts as many developing countries experience frequent power cuts which means these products can defrost and refreeze at unsafe temperatures.
Avoid raw fruit and vegetables that you have not peeled.
Avoid salads as they may have been washed with contaminated water.
Wash your hands before eating.
Standby treatment is recommended for the following travellers:
Travellers who often experience diarrhoea while travelling abroad
Travellers with bowel conditions such as IBS.
Travellers to destinations far from medical help.
Travellers who have conditions which may be aggravated by severe dehydration/diarrhoea.
How to take Azithromycin tablets (antibiotics)
How to take Loperamide capsules (anti-diarrhoeals)
How to take Dioralyte sachets (rehydration sachets)
Side effects can include:
Mild allergic reactions (serious reactions are rare). If you develop any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
Contact your doctor as soon as possible if you develop any of the following symptoms:
Other common side effects:
If you are concerned about these effects, or if the product affects you in a different way, stop using Azithromycin and talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Do not take Azithromycin tablets if:
Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any of the following medications:
Please read all packaging and the Product Information Leaflet before taking any new medications. Inform your doctor about any medications you take or intend to take.
Azithromycin 500mg tablets contain:
Active ingredient: azithromycin 500mg.
Inactive ingredients: croscarmellose sodium (E468), magnesium stearate (E572), silicium dioxide (E551), microcrystalline cellulose (E460), poloxamer, povidone (E1201), talc waterfree lactose.
Coating: hypromellose (E464), hydroxypropyl cellulose, macrogol, titanium dioxide (E171).
Azithromycin works by destroying the bacteria responsible for causing diarrhoea. It achieves this by preventing the bacteria from producing the proteins they need to survive.
Azithromycin is a highly effective treatment for traveller’s diarrhoea. However, its overall effectiveness is rated at 97%, as it has proved ineffective against giardia and amoebic dysentery. If Azithromycin doesn’t successfully clear up you diarrhoea, you should seek further advice from a doctor.
Taking Azithromycin will reduce the overall duration of your diarrhoea. Without treatment, symptoms usually persist for 3-4 days. Using Azithromycin will cut this time down to 1-2 days. You will know whether Azithromycin is working by whether your symptoms have cleared up within this time. If the diarrhoea persists, consult with a doctor.
Treatment should be commenced as soon as you notice any symptoms of diarrhoea. These symptoms include; frequent loose stools, nausea, and stomach cramps. The sooner treatment is started, the quicker your recovery will be.
Yes. This will help prevent resistant strains of bacteria from developing.
No. Alcohol can potentially neutralise the positive effects of Azithromycin. This will mean your diarrhoea won’t be cured effectively.
Azithromycin is the best method for treating bacterially caused diarrhoea. Azithromycin is particularly effective in South East Asia. This is because, in that region, most cases of diarrhoea are caused by bacteria.
Yes. Azithromycin is a prescription-only-medicine (POM). A private prescription can be issued online by visiting The Online Doctor at The Independent Pharmacy. After your consultation is reviewed by one of our doctors, your treatment can be promptly dispatched.
Brand names of Azithromycin include; Zithromax and Zmax.
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