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Erythromycin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that is utilized as a treatment for a wide variety of ophthalmic, topical, and systemic bacterial infections. Similar in activity to several other important antibiotics, the drug is often prescribed to patients that suffer from allergies to penicillin.

View a second, third, and fourth image of Erythromycin

First isolated from the soil fungus Streptomyces erythraeus in 1952 by a team of researchers led by American scientist J. M. McGuire, erythromycin is most successful at fighting gram-positive bacteria, though it also exhibits some action against some types of gram-negative bacteria. The macrolide antibiotic is believed to function within the body by binding to certain ribosomal subunits in susceptible bacteria, the result of which is a suppression of protein synthesis. Through this mode of action, erythromycin can effectively remedy a tremendous number of diseases and conditions, such as pneumonia, syphilis, sinusitis, respiratory infection, and Legionnairesí disease. However, the development of resistant strains of bacteria may necessitate that the drug be utilized in conjunction with other kinds of antibiotics.

Erythromycin is available in a variety of forms, including liquids, tablets, and capsules, but can only be obtained with a medical prescription. A particularly popular type of the drug is the delayed release tablet, which features a special coating that slows the breakdown of active ingredients, aiding in the maintenance of a constant, even supply of the antibiotic in the body. Some of the relatively common side effects that may occur with this and other varieties of erythromycin include nausea, fever, skin rash, and swelling. In rare cases, allergic reaction to the drug may result in temporary hearing loss, anaphylactic shock, or various other serious medical problems.



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