Antibiotics for Chlamydia

Examples

Generic Name Brand Name
amoxicillin  
azithromycin Zithromax
doxycycline Doryx, Vibramycin
erythromycin E-Base, Erythrocin
levofloxacin Levaquin
ofloxacin Floxin

How It Works

Antibiotics kill the chlamydia bacteria.

Why It Is Used

Antibiotics are given to:

  • People who have positive chlamydia tests.
  • Sex partners within the last 60 days of people diagnosed with chlamydia—even if they do not have symptoms.
  • Newborns of women who have chlamydia at the time of delivery.

All of these medicines are prescribed for men and for women who are not pregnant. Pregnant women can take only erythromycin, amoxicillin, and azithromycin. Only erythromycin is given to babies.

How Well It Works

Antibiotic treatment, if taken exactly as directed, normally cures chlamydia infections. If antibiotics are not taken properly, the infection will not be cured.

The number of days you take antibiotics depends on your illness and the type of antibiotic medicine. Azithromycin and doxycycline cure chlamydia in up to 95 out of 100 cases. Some people may not be able to take these medicines but are able to take a different one.1

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Hives.
  • Irregular or slow heart rate.
  • Severe belly pain or cramps.
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness.
  • Fever.
  • Sudden pain or swelling around your legs, shoulders, or hands.

Common side effects of these medicines include:

  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Belly pain or cramps.
  • Vaginal itching or discharge.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Doxycycline, levofloxacin, and ofloxacin

These medicines can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.

  • Stay out of the sun, if possible.
  • Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and hats, if possible.
  • Use sunscreen with an SPF that your doctor recommends.

Advice for women

Amoxicillin, azithromycin, and erythromycin

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.

Doxycycline, levofloxacin, and ofloxacin

Women who use this medicine during pregnancy have a slightly higher chance of having a baby with birth defects. If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you and your doctor must weigh the risks of using this medicine against the risks of not treating your condition.

Checkups

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

References

Citations

  1. Horner P (2010). Chlamydia (uncomplicated, genital), search date September 2009. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Devika Singh, MD, MPH - Infectious Disease
Last Revised December 11, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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