Initial Symptoms SJS Zithromax Side Effect. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Zithromax, known by its generic name as azithromycin, in order to treat mild to moderate bacterial infections. One possible side effect associated with Zithromax is Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), a rare but serious skin reaction. Since the initial symptoms of SJS can easily be mistaken for the flu, it is useful for patients to be aware of the risks.
SJS affects the skin and mucous membranes. It leads to a painful, blistering rash and eventually causes the skin to shed and die. When SJS affects over 30 percent of the body, it is known as toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN). Detecting symptoms of SJS/TEN early is crucial to patients having the best prognosis. In the early stages, SJS symptoms can resemble the flu. Patients may develop a fever, chills, lethargy or sore throat.
SJS is considered a medical emergency that requires immediate attention
In the days following, patients experience a painful rash that blisters. They may also experience red, painful, watery eyes. SJS is considered a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. SJS and TEN are usually caused by a drug reaction. Although many medications can potentially trigger this reaction, it appears to be more common with certain classes of drugs, including antibiotics and anti-seizure drugs.
According to WebMD, medical professionals immediately stop the medication causing SJS once they determine the issue. Sometimes, SJS patients are treated in the burn unit where they can receive skin grafts. Treatment also involves preventing infection, replenishing fluids, nutrients and wound care. Since SJS can also affect the eyes and lead to blindness, medical professionals will also clean the eyes and use special drugs to stop them from drying out.