What Not to Eat While Taking Azithromycin?

Whenever you are taking prescribed medication, it’s important that you follow its instructions and make changes to your daily routine to help keep you safe and healthy. With medications like azithromycin, you may need to avoid other types of medication that can affect its performance or put you at risk of overdosing. This also extends to food! 

You may need to make some important changes to your diet if you have recently been prescribed azithromycin – but what foods should you cut out and which ones are still safe to eat? 

Here, we are going to be exploring how azithromycin (and other antibiotics) are affected by food and what foods you should avoid when taking your medication. This way, you can get back to your normal self in no time! Just follow the guide below for more information!

Table of Contents

What Is Azithromycin?

First, let’s take a look at azithromycin – what exactly is it? 

Azithromycin is a type of antibiotic used to fight and treat certain types of bacterial infections. This includes infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and even some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). It’s classed as a macrolide antibiotic that works by stopping bacteria from growing. As a result, it limits its spread. 

Because it’s an antibiotic, azithromycin can only be prescribed by a healthcare professional. Azithromycin has seen a decline in popularity over the years and today, fewer doctors are prescribing this antibiotic than before. This is because azithromycin used to be the go-to treatment for chlamydia, a type of STD, but in recent years it’s become less effective. As a result, other more effective types of antibiotics are being prescribed instead of azithromycin to help prevent bacteria from growing resistant to this antibiotic and rendering it useless. 

Despite this, azithromycin is still effective against bacteria that cause respiratory, ear, eye, and skin infections. So, it’s likely you have been prescribed a course of azithromycin to help with these problems.

Do Foods Affect Azithromycin?

According to numerous studies and sources, certain foods can impact how well your antibiotics work against your infections. 

This is because certain foods can either reduce how well your body absorbs the antibiotic or block it completely. It’s not just antibiotics either – there are lots of medications that are impacted by the nutrients and minerals in our food. For example, studies have shown that magnesium and aluminum are linked to a decline in medication absorption and they can reduce the effectiveness of your medication. 

What this all means is that certain foods could be affecting how well your body absorbs your azithromycin, making it less effective when fighting against your bacterial infection. As a result, you should try to avoid these foods while you undergo your course of azithromycin to help ensure it works effectively against your infection. 

Now, all we need to do is find out what foods affect the absorption of azithromycin in your body! 

Foods to Avoid While Taking Azithromycin

Here we are going to be listing some of the foods you should avoid when taking azithromycin. This is to ensure that your body absorbs more of the antibiotic so it is more effective when working against the bacterial infection affecting your health. 

Check out the list below and do what you can to avoid these foods! 

Dairy Foods

Studies have proven that the mineral calcium can have a huge impact on the effectiveness of antibiotics in the body. It binds with the antibiotic and prevents it from being absorbed into the body so your antibiotics are less effective. As a result, you should avoid foods that are rich in calcium. 

Calcium is an important mineral in our diets as it helps our bodies to maintain structure, strength, and flexibility. It’s also found in abundance in dairy products. So, you should avoid the following dairy products as they are rich in calcium and could reduce the effectiveness of your azithromycin:

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Tofu
  • Edamame 

Even though tofu and edamame are not technically classed as dairy products, they are still very rich in calcium. This is why they are often used as dairy substitutes in vegan diets – and why you should also avoid them when taking azithromycin and other forms of antibiotics. 

High Acid Foods 

Another group of foods to avoid while taking azithromycin are highly acidic foods. 

Studies into grapefruit and grapefruit juice have proven that these foods are actually harmful when taking medications like antibiotics. This is because both grapefruit and most types of medications are broken down by the exact same enzyme. This enzyme is cytochrome 9450. If your body is trying to break down grapefruit and your medication at the same time, then it may not break down your medication property and this can have some big consequences for your health. 

As a result, it’s best to avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice when taking any kind of medication, azithromycin included. 

To be safe, some healthcare professionals also recommend that you avoid highly acidic foods that fall into the same category as grapefruit. This includes other citrus fruits (like oranges or lemons) and tomatoes. 

Alcohol

Alcohol is most likely the first thing your doctor or healthcare provider told you to avoid when prescribing your azithromycin – and for good reason! 

The reason why it’s considered dangerous to mix alcohol with antibiotics is not that it affects how effective the antibiotics are but how it increases your risks of side effects. Alcohol causes many short-term effects on your body including: 

  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches

When drunk alongside taking antibiotics, alcohol can cause some pretty unpleasant side effects you will want to avoid. Some forms of antibiotics are actually very dangerous to take with alcohol while others just cause some very unpleasant, enhanced side effects. With azithromycin, these side effects are not that adverse – but they’re definitely something you will want to avoid. 

Alcohol does not stop azithromycin from working effectively on your body’s infection but it’s still recommended that you avoid alcohol when taking any kind of medication, including antibiotics, so your body is in its best possible condition to fight off your infection. 

Antacids

Antacids are not actually a type of ‘food’. They are a type of medicine that is used to treat indigestion and heartburn by reducing the amount of acid inside your stomach. 

Studies have found that the compounds found within antacids – like magnesium hydroxide and aluminum hydroxide – can reduce the effectiveness of azithromycin. So, this is one type of medication you definitely should not take while taking azithromycin! 

How Can DrHouse Help You?

DrHouse is a telehealth platform that makes it easy for patients to access healthcare services quickly and conveniently. With DrHouse, you can connect with a board-certified doctor in minutes via our secure telehealth app. This allows you to receive the help you need without having to wait for an appointment or visit a doctor’s office.

If you have any questions or concerns about taking azithromycin, our doctors can provide helpful advice and guidance. We also can prescribe antibiotics online if needed. So, if you find yourself in need of an azithromycin prescription or any other antibiotics for a bacterial infection then our online doctors can help you out!

Final Thoughts

Azithromycin is a very effective and safe type of antibiotic to take. This means that, unlike some other types of antibiotics, it works well even when you take other types of medication or eat certain foods. Even alcohol has little effect on azithromycin – but there are still some foods you should avoid eating if you want your azithromycin antibiotics to work as effectively as possible. 

These include dairy foods, highly acidic foods, alcohol, and medications that contain antacids. Avoid these while you take your azithromycin course and you should be over your infection in no time. 

Sources:

  • Nahata M. Drug interactions with azithromycin and the macrolides: an overview. J Antimicrob Chemother. 1996 Jun;37 Suppl C:133-42. doi: 10.1093/jac/37.suppl_c.133. PMID: 8818854.
  • Preheirn, L.C., Olsen, K.M., Yue, M., Snitily, M.U. and Gentry, M.J. (1999), Ethanol Feeding Does Not Affect the Efficacy or Pharmacokinetics of Azithromycin, Trovafloxacin, or Ceftriaxone in a Rat Model of Pneumococcal Pneumonia. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 23: 842-849. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1530-0277.1999.tb04192.x
  • Combining Antibiotics and Alcohol: Is It Safe? Healthline. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/antibiotics-alcohol 
  • What Are the Effects of Alcohol on the Body? Healthline. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/alcohol/effects-on-body 
  • Bailey DG, Dresser G, Arnold JM. Grapefruit-medication interactions: forbidden fruit or avoidable consequences? CMAJ. 2013 Mar 5;185(4):309-16. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.120951. Epub 2012 Nov 26. PMID: 23184849; PMCID: PMC3589309.
  • Jaehde U, Sörgel F, Stephan U, Schunack W. Effect of an antacid containing magnesium and aluminum on absorption, metabolism, and mechanism of renal elimination of pefloxacin in humans. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1994 May;38(5):1129-33. doi: 10.1128/AAC.38.5.1129. PMID: 8067750; PMCID: PMC188162.
  • InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Using medication: Using antibiotics correctly and avoiding resistance. 2008 Nov 14 [Updated 2013 Dec 18]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK361005/
  • Kong FY, Hocking JS. Treatment challenges for urogenital and anorectal Chlamydia trachomatis. BMC Infect Dis. 2015 Jul 29;15:293. doi: 10.1186/s12879-015-1030-9. PMID: 26220080; PMCID: PMC4518511.
  • Azithromycin. ClinCalc.com. Available from: https://clincalc.com/DrugStats/Drugs/Azithromycin 
  • Walden DM, Khotimchenko M, Hou H, Chakravarty K, Varshney J. Effects of Magnesium, Calcium, and Aluminum Chelation on Fluoroquinolone Absorption Rate and Bioavailability: A Computational Study. Pharmaceutics. 2021 Apr 21;13(5):594. doi: 10.3390/pharmaceutics13050594. PMID: 33919271; PMCID: PMC8143323.

Content on the DrHouse website is written by our medical content team and reviewed by qualified MDs, PhDs, NPs, and PharmDs. We follow strict content creation guidelines to ensure accurate medical information. However, this content is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For more information read our medical disclaimer.

Always consult with your physician or other qualified health providers about medical concerns. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it based on what you read on this website.

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