Clarithromycin Side Effects

Common Clarithromycin Side Effects

Clarithromycin has been studied thoroughly in clinical trials. In these studies, the side effects that occurred in a group of people taking clarithromycin were documented and then compared to the side effects that occurred in a similar group of people taking a placebo (a "sugar pill" that does not contain any active ingredients) or a different antibiotic. As a result, it was possible to see what side effects occurred, how often they appeared, and how they compared to the group taking the placebo or other antibiotic.
In these studies, the most common side effects of clarithromycin included:
  • Abnormal taste -- in up to 7 percent of people
  • Diarrhea -- up to 6 percent
  • Vomiting -- up to 6 percent
  • Indigestion or heartburn -- up to 3 percent
  • Abdominal pain (stomach pain) -- up to 3 percent
  • Headaches -- up to 2 percent.

Other Possible Side Effects

After medications are approved and are in use by the general public, healthcare providers may voluntarily report side effects. This information may point to possible side effects that were not seen in clinical trials. However, it is difficult (if not impossible) to tell how frequently such side effects occur, or even if they are actual side effects of the medication. These reported side effects are known as "postmarketing experience." Possible side effects of clarithromycin reported in postmarketing experience include but are not limited to:
  • Thrush
  • Canker sores
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tongue discoloration
  • Dizziness
  • Low blood platelets or low white blood cells
  • Tooth discoloration (which usually goes away with professional dental cleaning)
  • Hearing loss (which usually goes away once the medication is stopped)
  • Changes in the sense of smell
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • A spinning sensation (vertigo)
  • Nightmares
  • Intact tablets in the stool (this has only been reported with the long-acting tablets).
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