Pfizer’s Zithromax Benefits & Serious Side Effects. Pfizer’s Zithromax (azithromycin) is a popular antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections such as pneumonia, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and infections of the ears, lungs, sinuses, skin, throat and reproductive organs. Zithromax treats infections by inhibiting bacteria’s ability to produce essential proteins. This prevents bacteria from being able to grow or reproduce. Serious side effects that can occur with Zithromax include Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), a life-threatening skin reaction which can lead to blindness in some cases, and an abnormal heart rhythm.
According to RxList, common side effects of Zithromax, also known as Z-Pak, include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, constipation, dizziness, fatigue, headache, vaginal itching or discharge, skin rash or itching, ringing in the ears or hearing problems and decreased sense of taste or smell.
Being aware of serious side effects can be helpful; having this knowledge may help patients recognize the early stages of potentially fatal complications. SJS, for instance, is a life-threatening reaction that starts off with flu-like symptoms. Then, patients develop a rash that spreads and blisters. Eventually, the top layer of the skin sheds and dies. SJS is considered a medical emergency. Patients are sometimes treated in aburn unit, where they receive skin grafts.
SJS is referred to as toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) if it affects more than 30 percent of the body
SJS is referred to as toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) if it affects more than 30 percent of the body. This severe skin reaction can also affect the eyes, leading to vision impairment and sometimes blindness if scar tissue develops inside the eyelids. SJS and TEN affect the skin and mucous members.
Zithromax is also associated with a potentially fatal heart rhythm. The FDA strengthened the warnings on Zithromax in 2013, stating “Patients at particular risk for developing this condition include those with known risk factors such as existing QT interval prolongation, low blood levels of potassium or magnesium, a slower than normal heart rate, or use of certain drugs used to treat abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias.” Patients taking Zithromax should seek medical attention if they experience an irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness or fainting.