Antibiotics Review Part 4: What are Macrolides?

When reviewing various drugs, the commonly taught principle is that when a drug ends in certain suffixes like “–lol,” that’s automatically a beta-blocker, whereas medications that end in “–pine” are calcium channel blockers.

However, since we do not live in a perfect world, there are always exceptions to the rule like atropine which ends in “–pine” but is not a calcium channel blocker and is actually an anticholinergic. Atropine spikes the heart rate which is the exact opposite of what a calcium channel blocker does.

That brings us to macrolides.

Macrolides Suffix

Macrolides are antibiotics primarily given to clients who have pneumococcal and streptococcal infections, especially on occasions wherein penicillin is prohibited. Zithromax or Azithromycin, and erythromycin, and clarithromycin are macrolides. Anything that ends in “–romycin” are considered as macrolides.

As established, there are exceptions to the rule of pharmacology suffixes, and one of these exceptions is identifying macrolides. See, the majority of antibiotic medications end in “-mycin.” Therefore, it would be confusing at some point to nurses to pinpoint which is a macrolide and which is another form of antibiotics.

Don’t get confused with neomycin, clindamycin, and even gentamycin because all these are different. Remember, macrolides usually end in “-romycin.”

Macrolides Client Teaching

There are two important information that you need to impart to clients who are taking macrolides, namely:

  • Do not take medication with food
  • Do not expose client under the sun

Food causes ineffective absorption of macrolides.

Another important detail to remember with macrolides is that it is contraindicated to clients who are allergic to it.

Macrolides and Coumadin

One of the nitpicky stuff about macrolides is that it will affect Coumadin’s effect on coagulation. Therefore, if a client is taking Coumadin and is also prescribed with macrolides, checking the INR is essential to check if the client is not coagulating at an increased rate.

Macrolides Side Effect

Some of the primary concerns when taking macrolides are:

  1. Gastrointestinal irritation or disturbances, especially with erythromycin.
  2. ECG results will show prolongation in the QT interval, also with erythromycin.
  3. Inhibits liver metabolism, which leads to interactions with various medications.

Other adverse effects of macrolides are nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea, all of which are related to gastrointestinal irritation. However, these are uncommon with macrolides like azithromycin and clarithromycin.

Macrolides Summary

So, we’ve discussed three important things that you have to remember when dealing with macrolides, and they are:

  1. Macrolides end in “-romycin.”
  2. Macrolides should not be taken with food.
  3. Clients who are taking macrolides should not be exposed under the sun.

That’s it for our macrolides. We still have a lot of antibiotics that we have discussed in our channel. We are also providing our members access to various nursing resources that can significantly help in their study habits, gaining an advantage in major exams, and even in the NCLEX®.

For other nursing-related topics, you can drop by our Simple Nursing website or check out our YouTube channel to get free content. See you guys at our next discussion!