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Zithromax Helped Reader Breathe Easier

Q. I have had COPD for decades. After taking azithromycin for about 15 weeks I am feeling well for the first time in over 20 years.

A. A placebo-controlled study found that the antibiotic azithromycin can reduce flare-ups associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an inflammatory condition that makes it difficult to breathe (New England Journal of Medicine, Aug. 25, 2011). The downsides of long-term azithromycin include hearing loss, digestive distress, rash, itching, dizziness or serious allergic reactions.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Since I have had COPD for years, I always take Advair and Spiriva. Still, until a month ago, I was chronically short of breath if I exerted myself. Then I started swimming under water, holding my breath. After just one month my lung capacity has tripled, my chest size is increasing, and I am no longer short of breath after exertion. The first day I swam only 12 feet; a month later I can swim 40 feet under water. I have no idea why the lungs improve so quickly from just swimming under water.

Having been hospitalized in Nov. 2011 for several weeks because of a severe COPD flare-up I am curious about a regimen of azithromycin. I was treated with an antibiotic and steroids plus the normal medications I take such as Spiriva and Advair. I am still not where I was before the onset of the flare up. Would doctors be reluctant to prescribe an antibiotic regimen? The possible side effects wouldn’t prevent me from trying this if possible.

If a person must be on long term antibiotics, they should also be on PROBIOTICS to avoid digestive distress.

I am interested in learning more about the possibility of hearing loss. Your link to ‘azithromycin’ does not mention it all. I found an old abstract on pubmed that is more reassuring (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10778901 – “Azithromycin, an azalide antibiotic, rarely causes ototoxicity. According to the few reports in existence, azithromycin-induced ototoxicity occurred following prolonged high-dose therapy in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and resulted in a reversible sensorineural hearing loss.”) Do you have any more current information?
People’s Pharmacy response: That case report was from 2000 and involved a person getting IV azithromycin. There are a few more reports from 2001, but the only recent study is not relevant because it covers guinea pigs and topical antibiotic lotion.

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