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Ciprofloxacin

Generic Name: ciprofloxacin (oral) (SIP roe FLOX a sin)
Brand Names: Cipro, Cipro XR, Proquin XR

Medically reviewed by Kaci Durbin, MD. Last updated on Dec 13, 2018.

What is ciprofloxacin?

Ciprofloxacin is a fluoroquinolone (flor-o-KWIN-o-lone) antibiotic that fights bacteria in the body. It is used to treat different types of bacterial infections, including skin infections, bone and joint infections, respiratory or sinus infections, urinary tract infections, and certain types of diarrhea. It is also used to treat gonorrhea.

Ciprofloxacin is also used to treat people who have been exposed to anthrax or certain types of plague.

Ciprofloxacin should be used only for infections that cannot be treated with a safer antibiotic.

Fluoroquinolone antibiotics can cause serious or disabling side effects that may not be reversible, such as tendon rupture or nerve problems.

Important Information

Ciprofloxacin can cause serious side effects, including tendon problems, nerve damage, serious mood or behavior changes, or low blood sugar.

Stop using this medicine and call your doctor at once if you have symptoms such as: headache, hunger, irritability, numbness, tingling, burning pain, confusion, agitation, paranoia, problems with memory or concentration, thoughts of suicide, or sudden pain or movement problems in any of your joints.

In rare cases, ciprofloxacin may cause damage to your aorta, which could lead to dangerous bleeding or death. Get emergency medical help if you have severe and constant pain in your chest, stomach, or back.

You may not be able to use ciprofloxacin if you have a muscle disorder. Tell your doctor if you have a history of myasthenia gravis.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use ciprofloxacin if you are allergic to it, or if:

Ciprofloxacin may cause swelling or tearing of a tendon (the fiber that connects bones to muscles in the body), especially in the Achilles' tendon of the heel. This can happen during treatment or up to several months after you stop taking this medicine. Tendon problems may be more likely in certain people (children and older adults, or people who use steroid medicine or have had an organ transplant).

To make sure this medicine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • tendon problems, bone problems, arthritis, or other joint problems (especially in children);

  • blood circulation problems, aneurysm, narrowing or hardening of the arteries;

  • heart problems, high blood pressure;

  • a genetic disease such as Marfan syndrome or Ehler's-Danlos syndrome;

  • diabetes;

  • a muscle or nerve disorder, such as myasthenia gravis;

  • kidney disease;

  • seizures or epilepsy;

  • a head injury or brain tumor;

  • long QT syndrome (in you or a family member); or

  • low levels of potassium in your blood (hypokalemia).

Do not give this medicine to a child without medical advice.

It is not known whether this medicine will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant.

You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.

How should I take ciprofloxacin?

Take ciprofloxacin exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets.

You may take ciprofloxacin with or without food, at the same time each day.

Shake the oral suspension (liquid) for 15 seconds before you measure a dose. Use the dosing syringe provided, or use a medicine dose-measuring device (not a kitchen spoon). Do not give ciprofloxacin oral suspension through a feeding tube.

Swallow the extended-release tablet whole and do not crush, chew, or break it.

Use ciprofloxacin for the full prescribed length of time, even if your symptoms quickly improve. Skipping doses can increase your risk of infection that is resistant to medication. This medicine will not treat a viral infection such as the flu or a common cold.

Do not share ciprofloxacin with another person.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Do not allow the liquid medicine to freeze. Throw away any unused liquid after 14 days.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take two doses at one time.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking ciprofloxacin?

Do not take ciprofloxacin with dairy products such as milk or yogurt, or with calcium- fortified juice. You may eat or drink these products with your meals, but do not use them alone when taking ciprofloxacin. They could make the medication less effective.

Using caffeine while taking ciprofloxacin can increase the effects of the caffeine.

Antibiotic medicines can cause diarrhea, which may be a sign of a new infection. If you have diarrhea that is watery or bloody, call your doctor before using anti-diarrhea medicine.

Ciprofloxacin could make you sunburn more easily. Avoid sunlight or tanning beds. Wear protective clothing and use sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) when you are outdoors. Tell your doctor if you have severe burning, redness, itching, rash, or swelling after being in the sun.

Avoid driving or hazardous activity until you know how this medicine will affect you. Your reactions could be impaired.

Ciprofloxacin side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to ciprofloxacin (hives, difficult breathing, swelling in your face or throat) or a severe skin reaction (fever, sore throat, burning in your eyes, skin pain, red or purple skin rash that spreads and causes blistering and peeling).

Ciprofloxacin can cause serious side effects, including tendon problems, side effects on your nerves (which may cause permanent nerve damage), serious mood or behavior changes (after just one dose), or low blood sugar (which can lead to coma).

Stop taking this medicine and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • low blood sugar - headache, hunger, sweating, irritability, dizziness, nausea, fast heart rate, or feeling anxious or shaky;

  • nerve symptoms in your hands, arms, legs, or feet - numbness, weakness, tingling, burning pain;

  • serious mood or behavior changes - nervousness, confusion, agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, memory problems, trouble concentrating, thoughts of suicide; or

  • signs of tendon rupture - sudden pain, swelling, bruising, tenderness, stiffness, movement problems, or a snapping or popping sound in any of your joints (rest the joint until you receive medical care or instructions).

In rare cases, ciprofloxacin may cause damage to your aorta, the main blood artery of the body. This could lead to dangerous bleeding or death. Get emergency medical help if you have severe and constant pain in your chest, stomach, or back.

Also, stop using this medicine and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe stomach pain, diarrhea that is watery or bloody;

  • fast or pounding heartbeats, fluttering in your chest, shortness of breath, and sudden dizziness (like you might pass out);

  • the first sign of any skin rash, no matter how mild;

  • muscle weakness, breathing problems;

  • little or no urination;

  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or

  • increased pressure inside the skull - severe headaches, ringing in your ears, dizziness, nausea, vision problems, pain behind your eyes.

Common ciprofloxacin side effects may include:

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect ciprofloxacin?

Some medicines can make ciprofloxacin much less effective when taken at the same time. If you take any of the following medicines, take your dose 2 hours before or 6 hours after you take the other medicine.

Tell your doctor about all your other medicines, especially:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with ciprofloxacin, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use ciprofloxacin only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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