Why Azithromycin is Given for 3 Days?

Azithromycin is a type of medication from a group of medicines that is known as macrolide antibiotics. These antibiotics are designed to work by killing bacteria causing an infection. If your doctor has prescribed you a course of Azithromycin, then it’s only natural for you to be curious about why the length of the treatment is 3 days. 

In this article, we are going to be providing you with a deep-dive look into Azithromycin. In order to help you better understand why it is given for 3 days (on average) we’ll be exploring what this medication is, what the usual dosage and strength is, as well as the typical duration of the medication course. 

All that being said, without further ado, just keep on reading to learn more about the typical treatment length of an Azithromycin course. 

Table of Contents

What is Azithromycin?

So, what is Azithromycin? To cut a long story short, Azithromycin is a type of antibiotic medicine that is used to treat a variety of different infections. These include the following:

  • Chest infections, such as pneumonia.
  • Ear, nose and throat infections.
  • Skin infections.
  • Lyme disease.
  • Various sexually transmitted infections. 

As well as the above, it is also worth noting that Azithromycin can also be prescribed to people who suffer with chest infections that keep coming back. Azithromycin comes from a group of medicines that is known as macrolide antibiotics. This particular family of antibiotics are able to work by effectively killing bacteria in the body that is causing an infection.

Depending on the strength level, Azithromycin is available to be prescribed in a variety of different forms, including tablets, capsules as well as a liquid that can be swallowed. As well as this, Azithromycin can also be given by injection, although this is only ever administered when in a hospital. 

Azithromycin is usually taken once a day, and it is recommended that it is taken at the same time in order to ensure optimum effectiveness of the overall treatment. It is also recommended that Azithromycin capsules are taken at least one hour prior to eating any food, or at least two hours after eating. This will help to ensure maximum absorption and optimum effectiveness of the treatment. 

If your doctor has prescribed you a course of Azithromycin, it is extremely important that you make sure to finish the full course that has been prescribed to you. Even though it is highly likely that you will begin to feel better after a few days of taking the Azithromycin you have been prescribed, it is vital that you continue to take all of the Azithromycin prescribed to you in order to ensure that the infection does not come back after completion of the course.

There are also a few side effects of Azithromycin that you should be aware of. Some of the most common side effects that people can experience when taking Azithromycin are feelings of nausea, being sick, headaches, changes to sense of taste, as well as diarrhea. In some rare instances, a fungal infection called thrush might also occur. However, for the majority of people, these side effects do not happen.

What is the Dosage and Strength of Azithromycin?

Before we jump any further, we just want to take a moment to talk you through the general strength levels and dosage amounts of Azithromycin. Doing so, will help you to then better understand why the course lengths are typically very short.

Generally speaking, Azithromycin tablets typically tend to come in either 250mg or 500mg strength levels. Keep in mind that, while the 250mg Azithromycin comes in a capsule form, the slightly stronger 500mg Azithromycin comes in a liquid form. 

More often than not, the typical dose that a doctor will prescribe is 500mg for 3 days, but sometimes this treatment course length can be extended up to 10 days depending on the severity of the infection. 

In some rare cases, a doctor might also choose to provide a one-time dose of Azithromycin that is considerably higher than the 250mg and 500mg dosage levels, such as 2g. However, whether or not a higher one-time dose of Azithromycin will be required will very likely depend on what type of infection the patient has, as well as how severe the infection is.

As well as the above, it is also worth noting that when prescribing Azithromycin to children or adults that struggle with liver or kidney problems, the dose of Azithromycin prescribed will usually be a lot lower. Again, this will depend on the infection and the individual. 

Azithromycin can also, in very rare instances, be prescribed on an ongoing basis in individuals that suffer from an ongoing chest infection. In these instances, it is common for Azithromycin to be prescribed weekly over a three-day period. 

Why is Azithromycin Given Over Three Days?

Now that we have covered the general strength levels and dose amounts of Azithromycin, it only makes sense to now be asking yourself why it is common for Azithromycin to be prescribed for an average treatment length of 3 days. 

Well, as we have already mentioned above, the length of the Azithromycin course can vary anywhere from 3 days up to 10 days. The length of the course of Azithromycin will greatly depend on the severity of the infection, as well as what type of infection the individual has.

Generally speaking, however, the majority of people who are prescribed Azithromycin will be given a treatment course of 3 days. This is because many studies have found that a 3-day dose of Azithromycin offers the same benefits as a 10-day course in adults who do not have kidney or liver problems. 

Along with this, it is also important to note that the strength of the Azithromycin over the 3-day dose period might vary depending on the type of infection that the individual has, as well as how severe it is. For example, one clinical study found that varying strength levels of Azithromycin offered a higher level of efficacy in treating certain chest infections. 

That being said, it’s worth keeping in mind that the length of time and strength level will very greatly depend on each personal circumstance. In some instances, as well, a doctor may deem that a 10-day dose period of Azithromycin is a more suitable option, such as if a long-acting Azithromycin has been prescribed or an infection has been ongoing for some time. 

Wrapping Up

There we have it. You’ve made it to the end of the guide! Now that you have taken the time to read through all of the above, we hope that we have been able to give you a much better understanding of why Azithromycin is typically given to individuals over a 3-day period. 

If you would like to learn more, we highly recommend you speak with a doctor who will be able to provide you with more information on Azithromycin. 


  • Hoepelman IM, Möllers MJ, van Schie MH, Greefhorst AP, Schlösser NJ, Sinninghe Damsté EJ, van de Moosdijk CN, Dalinghaus WH, Eland ME, Mol SJ, Rozenberg-Arska M. A short (3-day) course of azithromycin tablets versus a 10-day course of amoxycillin-clavulanic acid (co-amoxiclav) in the treatment of adults with lower respiratory tract infections and effects on long-term outcome. Int J Antimicrob Agents. 1997 Jan;9(3):141-6. doi: 10.1016/s0924-8579(97)00043-5. PMID: 9552709.
  • Hoepelman AI, Sips AP, van Helmond JL, van Barneveld PW, Neve AJ, Zwinkels M, Rozenberg-Arska M, Verhoef J. A single-blind comparison of three-day azithromycin and ten-day co-amoxiclav treatment of acute lower respiratory tract infections. J Antimicrob Chemother. 1993 Jun;31 Suppl E:147-52. doi: 10.1093/jac/31.suppl_e.147. PMID: 8396086.

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.

If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.



on your schedule

Skip the unnecessary waiting room,
see a board-certified clinician now.

Start an Online Visit
Available in 50 states. No insurance needed.
Screenshot of DrHouse Mobile App: Virtual Doctor Appointment in Progress

Prescriptions as needed
Renew or get a new Rx.

On-demand virtual visits
See a physician 24/7.

24/7 care support
We are here to help you.

  • 1

    Download the DrHouse app.
    Set up your free account in a minute.

  • 2

    Start a visit with an online doctor. Wait time is less than 15 minutes.

  • 3

    Get an Rx from your preferred pharmacy. Pick up a Rx nearby or get it delivered to you.

Download our app
Image of a doctor wearing a white lab coat, representing the DrHouse telehealth service