How Do Macrolides Work?

Reviewed on 10/22/2021

What Are Macrolides and How Do They Work?

Macrolides are antibiotics used for infections caused by gram-positive bacteria (streptococcal and pneumococcal infections).

Macrolide antibiotics inhibit protein synthesis by targeting the bacterial ribosomes (responsible for the synthesis of cellular proteins) and occluding the nascent peptide exit tunnel of the bacterial ribosome.

Therefore, macrolides are often referred to as “tunnel plugs”. Macrolide antibiotics are known to have antiviral effects.

Macrolide antibiotics can be taken orally or given as an intravenous infusion. They are contraindicated in people who have had an allergic reaction to them.

The use of macrolides during pregnancy needs close monitoring as it slightly elevates the risk of cerebral palsy (a disorder that affects the ability to move and maintain balance and posture) and epilepsy in children.

How Are Macrolides Used?

Macrolides are used for the following:

What Are Side Effects of Macrolides?

Common side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Anorexia

Taking macrolide antibiotics with food may help decrease gastrointestinal disturbances.

Other rare side effects include:

  • Cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythm especially in people at risk of cardiac events or who have a cardiac history)
  • Abnormal liver function
  • Deafness
  • Tinnitus

The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.

What Are Names of Macrolide Drugs?

Names of Macrolide drugs include:

Medscape. Macrolides.

NCBI. How macrolide antibiotics work.

FDA. FDA Drug Safety Communication: Azithromycin (Zithromax or Zmax) and the risk of potentially fatal heart rhythms.

SpringerNature. Adverse Effects of Macrolide Antibacterials.

MedScape. Caution Warranted for Use of Macrolides in Pregnancy.

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