Erythromycin is a prescription antibiotic, often used as a treatment for bacterial infections. Dentists also prescribe this medication to help their patients avoid infections that might result from dental procedures. Rosacea and acne patients sometimes take this medication as well. Erythromycin's known food interactions include fruit juices and carbonated beverages. Avoid consuming these beverages with erythromycin and while you are taking this medication unless your doctor indicates otherwise.
Your doctor or dentist gives you this medication to take for a specific period, usually one to three weeks. The prescription that you receive can be generic erythromycin or a brand-name version of the main active component in this chemical compound. Erythromycin comes in several forms: liquid, tablet and capsules, including chewable and long-acting formulations. The type of erythromycin that you take determines if you can consume the medication with meals. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you whether you need to take your erythromycin on an empty stomach. When this is required, allow at least two hours between your meal and your medication.
Fruit and Juice
MedlinePlus recommends that you avoid taking your dose of erythromycin with any fruit juice. The University of Colorado Cooperative Extension warns that you should not eat eat citrus fruits while you are taking erythromycin. The main types available in North American markets are grapefruit, oranges, lemons, limes, tangerines and pomelos.
Grapefruit has long been known to increase the plasma concentrations of certain medications. Limited research on grapefruit juice shows that it increases the amount of erythromycin that your body absorbs, which effectively increases your dose. Scientists have not isolated the particular chemical in grapefruit that is responsible for this effect, but they have documented this interaction in studies on a variety of medications. Numerous studies show that while it is in the small intestine, a compound in grapefruit, and possibly other citrus, affects the body’s uptake of certain drugs. A small study published in the "European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology" in 2001 found that the consumption of grapefruit juice with erythromycin increased plasma levels of this medication in six male test subjects, when compared to consumption of water.
Other Fruit Precautions
In addition to grapefruit, researchers have confirmed that other fruit juices affect your body’s absorption of certain medications. A review of drug-fruit interactions, published in 2007 in “Expert Opinion on Drug Metabolism and Toxicology,” indicates that fruit has the potential to affect how the human body metabolizes medications. Although researchers have not linked them to erythromycin, cranberry, pomelo and pomegranate have known drug interactions, along with common and Seville oranges. Much the same as grapefruit, these fruits appear to affect medications while they pass through the small intestine. Until further research isolates the compounds in fruits that interact with certain drugs, always discuss with your doctor or pharmacist which fruits if any are safe to take with erythromycin.
- MedlinePlus: Erythromycin
- Colorado State University Cooperative Extension: Nutrient-Drug Interactions and Food
- European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology: The Effects of Grapefruit Juice on the Pharmacokinetics of Erythromycin
- Expert Opinion on Drug Metabolism and Toxicology: Clinical Relevance of the Small Intestine as an Organ of Drug Elimination: Drug-Fruit Juice Interactions
- International Rosacea Foundation: Treating Rosacea With Antibiotics