Who can take erythromycin?

Things to tell your doctor before you take erythromycin

It is important to tell your health professional if you:

  • are taking any other medicines
  • have a current illness
  • have any allergies to food or other medicines (e.g. other antibiotics)
  • have any long-term health conditions (e.g. heart, liver or kidney problems).

This will help your health professional decide if erythromycin is suitable for you.

Heart problems

Erythromycin can affect your heart rate, so you must tell your doctor if you have any heart problems (e.g. irregular heart beat or arrhythmia).

Severe liver problems

You should not take erythromycin if you have severe liver problems.

Antibiotics and allergic reactions

If you or your child has ever had an allergic reaction when taking erythromycin or any antibiotic in the past, you must tell your doctor. This may mean that you will not be able to take erythromycin and will have to take an alternative type of antibiotic.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include:

  • hives (large, red raised areas on the skin)
  • swollen lips, tongue, or mouth
  • fever
  • breathing problems
  • fainting.

Can I take erythromycin if I am pregnant?

Erythromycin is not recommended during the first trimester (12 weeks) of pregnancy, as it may cause problems with heart formation in the unborn baby. Your doctor will prescribe an alternative antibiotic.

Can I take erythromycin if I am breastfeeding?

Erythromycin can be taken if you are breastfeeding, but it may cause diarrhoea in your baby.

Find out more about the infections erythromycin is used for, and its side effects and interactions.

Phone for medicines information

Call NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) to get information about your prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines (herbal, ‘natural’, vitamins and mineral supplements) from a pharmacist. Your call will be answered by healthdirect Australia (except Queensland and Victoria).

  • Rossi S, ed. Australian Medicines Handbook [online]. Adelaide: AMH, July 2012.
  • Sweetman S, ed. Martindale: The complete drug reference [online]. London: Pharmaceutical Press (accessed 18 October 2011).
  • Antibiotic Expert Group. Therapeutic Guidelines: Antibiotic version 14; Erythromycin. Melbourne: Therapeutic Guidelines Limited, 2012 (accessed 27 March 2012).