Skip to main content

What types of infections does Cipro treat?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Dec 22, 2023.

Official answer


Cipro (ciprofloxacin), a fluoroquinolone antibiotic, is used to treat a wide range of bacterial infections, including:

  • pneumonia and certain lower respiratory tract infections
  • certain urinary tract infections
  • gonorrhea
  • infections of the digestive tract (for example, diverticulitis) - (used in combination with metronidazole)
  • serious skin, bone and joint infections
  • prostate gland infections
  • infectious diarrhea
  • typhoid fever (enteric fever)
  • kidney infections (pyelonephritis)
  • inhalational anthrax (post-exposure)
  • certain types of plague (treatment and prevention).

Use of Cipro (and other fluoroquinolones) should only be used to treat acute chronic bronchitis, acute sinus infections, or acute uncomplicated cystitis if there are no other treatment options available (due to serious side effects). The risk of these serious side effects generally outweighs the benefits in these patients.

Fluoroquinolones have been associated with serious or disabling side effects, which may occur at the same time and can be permanent or fatal. The FDA has issued several strong warnings about this class due to these potential disabling side effects. Ask your doctor about the warnings associated with this class of drug before you take it.

Serious or disabling side effects can include:

  • tendon rupture or tendinitis (swelling of the tendon)
  • peripheral neuropathy (a “pins and needles” tingling or pricking sensation, numbness in the arms or legs)
  • central nervous system (CNS) effects like seizures, changes in mood or behavior.
  • worsening of myasthenia gravis (a medical condition that causes muscle weakness). Avoid Cipro in patients with known history of myasthenia gravis
  • rare heart and blood vessel problems

Although fluoroquinolones like ciprofloxacin (Cipro) have been used in the past to treat these common infections, recommendations and Boxed Warnings now state this class should be reserved for more serious infections when possible.

The FDA has also found that fluoroquinolone antibiotics can increase the occurrence of rare but serious events of ruptures or tears in the main artery of the body, called the aorta. These tears, called aortic dissections, or ruptures of an aortic aneurysm can lead to dangerous bleeding or even death. Healthcare providers should avoid prescribing fluoroquinolone antibiotics to patients who have an aortic aneurysm or are at risk for an aortic aneurysm.

Antibiotics like Cipro will not treat viral infections such as a cold, the flu, COVID-19, or a viral sore throat. Using an antibiotic to treat a viral infection when it is not prescribed or needed will increase your risk of a later infection that resists antibiotic treatment. Antibiotic treatment should always be guided by your physician.

Learn More: FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA updates warnings for oral and injectable fluoroquinolone antibiotics due to disabling side effects

Cipro should not be used as the first choice antibiotic in children under 18 years of age due to the possibility of serious side effects. It is not known if Cipro XR is safe and effective in children under 18 years of age.

Related Questions

Which drug class is Cipro in?

Cipro and Cipro XR are in a class of medications known as fluoroquinolone antibiotics. Medications in the fluoroquinolone class include:

  • ciprofloxacin (Cipro, Cipro XR)
  • delafloxacin (Baxdela)
  • levofloxacin
  • moxifloxacin (Avelox)
  • ofloxacin
  • gemifloxacin (Factive)

Cipro (ciprofloxacin) is available as an oral tablet, an oral suspension, or as an extended-release tablet (Cipro XR). Cipro is also available in various forms, like drops or ointments, to treat ear and eye infections. Generic forms of Cipro, known as "ciprofloxacin" are available at the pharmacy and may save you money.

Cipro XR, an extended-release oral tablet, is only used in adults 18 years of age and older to treat urinary tract infections (complicated and uncomplicated), including kidney infections (pyelonephritis). Reserve Cipro XR for treatment of uncomplicated UTIs (acute cystitis) in those who have no alternative treatment options.

This is not all the information you need to know about Cipro (ciprofloxacin) for safe and effective use and does not take the place of your doctor’s directions. Review the full Cipro product information and discuss any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.


Read next

Related medical questions

Drug information

Related support groups