Most people who develop symptoms of a cough or cold look for medications that will help them feel better as quickly as possible.
Usually, this means a drive to the nearest drugstore or pharmacy where you find yourself looking through aisle after aisle of possible cough and cold remedies that claim to help you clear congestion, reduce your fever, or sleep better.
Most households have a store of medication in their medicine cabinets that they can reach into when they are feeling sick to find a solution to help them feel better.
If the reason you are feeling under the weather is due to a viral infection, like most causes of the common cold, these medications are probably enough to help you feeling better and back on your feet within a few days.
In many cases, your immune system can clear the viral infection on its own without the need of a prescription medication.
Many times, a trip to the doctor’s office or urgent care may not be necessary as long as you take care of yourself by getting proper rest, drinking plenty of fluids and taking over-the counter decongestants and fever reducers.
However, if your condition lasts longer than a few days and is accompanied by high fever or thick colored discharge, a trip to your doctor is most probably necessary.
In this case, you may have developed a bacterial infection for which over-the-counter drugs will not be enough to help you resolve your symptoms. The infection must be treated with prescription-antibiotics to clear the source of the infection before you can start feeling better.
Bacterial infections can be caused by many different species of bacteria depending on the location and cause of the infection. In the above example of an illness that starts out as a common cold, pneumonia can develop due to infection with the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae or Mycobacterium pneumoniae for example.
Without taking antibiotics, infections that cause pneumonia due to these bacterial species can cause very serious symptoms and become life threatening if left untreated.
Antibiotics can prevent bacteria from multiplying and thereby eliminate the infection that causes symptoms to resolve on their own over the course of treatment.
Before antibiotics were discovered, illnesses like pneumonia were often fatal as the immune system has limited ability to clear a bacterial infection on its own.
Some bacterial species that are highly ‘pathogenic’ or very likely to cause illness or disease must be treated with antibiotics or they can cause serious complications. Bacterial infections can affect any part of the body.
Some of the more common infections that need antibiotic treatment are upper respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections, ear and sinus infections to name a few.
Antibiotics require a prescription
All antibiotics require a prescription. What kinds of antibiotics are prescribed for these infections?
There are many choices of antibiotics all belonging to different classes. The classes are based on how they act on the bacteria that causes the infection.
Some antibiotics are ‘bacteriostatic’ meaning that they only halt the growth of the bacteria, while others are ‘bactericidal’, meaning that they can kill the bacteria once the drug comes in contact with the bacterial cell. In all cases, all antibiotics require a prescription to be purchased and taking leftover antibiotics that you might have from a previous illness is not recommended.
Different antibiotics are prescribed for various afflictions so the same antibiotic may not work for different infections.
For example, the first-line antibiotic that is prescribed for a urinary tract infection is different than that prescribed for a sinus infection.
Additionally, each antibiotic has a specific dose and specified course or number of days for which it should be taken to work efficiently and ensure that the infection is completely cleared.
Therefore, taking leftover antibiotics from a sinus infection you had two years ago will not be effective or safe for a current urinary tract infection. Also, taking the same antibiotic frequently and without the supervision of a doctor can be dangerous, as the bacteria causing the infection can become resistant to that antibiotic, meaning that the antibiotic may no longer be effective in resolving the infection.
This is extremely problematic because once bacteria in our body becomes resistant to a single antibiotic in one class, it can quickly develop resistance to other antibiotics as well, potentially leading to a lack of options for treatment of the infection.
Azithromycin as a leading choice antibiotic
What is Azithromycin?
In the United States and around the world, Azithromycin is one of the leading antibiotics that is most commonly prescribed for a variety of bacterial infections.
This antibiotic belongs to the azalide or more broadly, the ‘macrolide’ class of antibiotics.
What is Azithromycin used for?
They work by preventing the bacteria from making proteins that they need for their own survival.
Depending on the dosage taken, the bacteria end up dying since they cannot make the essential components required for their survival.
Azithromycin is superior to other macrolide antibiotics like Erythromycin and Clarithromycin, as it has repeatedly been shown to require lower doses to achieve efficient clearing of bacterial infections caused by organisms like Haemophilus influenzae and Staphylococcus aureus. It also has lower reported toxicity and is generally tolerated well by patients taking it. In most cases, it is not associated with severe side effects.
Azithromycin is also the preferred choice of antibiotic for patients who are allergic to penicillins. This broadens the treatment options for fighting bacterial infection for patients with penicillin allergies.
Cost of Prescription Antibiotics
A prescription is required to purchase Azithromycin.
Like all antibiotics, this is to ensure that the drug is taken properly to give the most benefit to the patient by clearing the infection, while also ensuring that taking the antibiotic is safe for the individual given their medical history. The cost of prescription antibiotics can be relatively high without health insurance.
Azithromycin is the generic name for Zithromax or Zpak that is marketed by Pfizer.
Until 2006, Azithromycin was only available for purchase as its branded form.
Since its availability as a generic drug, the cost of Azithromycin has dramatically decreased, however, antibiotics can still be costly.
In fact, most antibiotics are not under patent protection anymore, which means that generic forms are on the market at a much lower price.
In general, the older antibiotics that have been around since the early to mid-1900’s (like the penicillins) have a relative low cost today compared to the newer antibiotics.
Is Azithromycin penicillin?
Azithromycin, developed in the late 1980’s, is one of the most expensive antibiotics on the market especially compared to the penicillins, which they are often mistaken with.
At its year of introduction in 1987, the individual price of Azithromycin was close to $100.
Today, the average retail price is half of that, but compared to Erythromycin and other older classes of antibiotics like penicillins and sulfonamides, the cost of Azithromycin is still on the higher end.
Where to get Azithromycin at an affordable price
If you are prescribed Azithromycin for a bacterial infection, the cost of the drug should not prevent you from buying it.
Health insurance often helps with the cost of antibiotics, but since the cost of Azithromycin is on the higher end compared to other antibiotics, finding other ways to save on this drug is possible and can help you access the drug for whatever reason you have been prescribed for. Azithromycin is available from most pharmacies with a prescription and the prices vary according to the pharmacy you get it from.
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Chris is one of the Co-Founders of Pharmacists.org. An entrepreneur at heart, Chris has been building and writing in consumer health for over 10 years. In addition to Pharmacists.org, Chris and his Acme Health LLC Brand Team own and operate Diabetic.org and the USA Rx Pharmacy Discount Card powered by Pharmacists.org.
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