Ciprofloxacin belongs to a class of potent antibiotics called quinolones or fluoroquinolones. These drugs are quite popular with prescribers because they can help cure a wide variety of infections. Fluoroquinolone antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin (Cipro), levofloxacin (Levaquin), moxifloxacin (Avelox) and norfloxacin (Noroxin) are used for a wide range of infections including bronchitis, pneumonia, sinusitis, urinary tract infections, prostatitis and skin infections.
We used to think side effects were uncommon but we have changed our tune (see side effects below and please take time to read some of the comments below this post. They will give you a more accurate picture of what happens in the real word.) Bacteria appear slower to develop resistance to such medications.
This antibiotic also works against traveler’s diarrhea and other bugs that invade the digestive tract.
Side Effects and Interactions
Ciprofloxacin may cause lightheadedness. Do not drive or attempt any activity that requires coordination and judgment if you become impaired.
Some people report restlessness, insomnia, nightmares, dizziness, tremor, headache, or irritability while taking this medicine.
This list hardly does the complications of ciprofloxacin justice. Some people experience hallucinations while taking the drug. And the nightmares can be horrifying. An athlete reported that both she and her husband suffered with “strange thoughts, muscle pain, tingling, and shooting pains in our arms and legs.”
The diarrhea can be severe and requires medical intervention if it does not resolve promptly. A C. diff infection can sometimes result from antibiotic treatment. Such GI infections are extremely challenging and can be hard to eradicate.
Finally, this entire class of drugs can cause unexpected damage to soft tissue. The FDA has received reports of retinal detachment with these antibiotics. Problems with tendinitis and tendon rupture are so serious that the FDA has warned doctors about them in a special “black box” in the prescribing information. It took the agency quite a long time to discover this devastating complication.
Here are a few stories from visitors to this website to reinforce these complications:
“I suddenly got floaters and went to my ophthomologist. He cautioned me to come in right away if I suddenly had a curtain over my right eye. He was concerned about retinal detachment. Yes, I had taken Cipro for diverticulitis before that.”
“After years of taking Levaquin or Cipro (cousin drugs), I took Cipro on August 2, 2010, and have been wearing an air cast for tendinitis in my foot since August 28, over two months. I also have tendinitis in my elbow. Both my podiatrist, who is treating my foot, and my acupuncturist, told me that ciprofloxacin is known for causing tendinitis.
“The saddest thing about it is that I told the doctor who prescribed, that I had read older persons (I am 75) should not take ciprofloxacin. He said it would be fine. Hah!”
“Last Dec. I had a UTI & my Dr. prescribed Cipro. Within a week I developed tendinitis in my left elbow. A month later, I developed a tendonitis in my left hand & a month later I had a tear in my right rotator cuff.
“It took me five months of physical therapy to get over these.”
“Since I have taken both Levaquin and Cipro… I have had both calf muscles to tear in half just walking… I have a tendon that has hardened and balled up in the middle of my right foot.”
Such symptoms can be made worse by coffee or the asthma medicine theophyline.
Cipro affects the liver and may allow caffeine and theophylline to build up to toxic levels in the body.
Because Cipro may cause digestive tract upset, nausea, pain or diarrhea, you may be tempted to use an antacid. That could be a big mistake.
Aluminum or calcium-based products, including Di-Gel, Gaviscon, Maalox, Mylanta, and Tums, can dramatically interfere with the absorption of Cipro. Wait at least two hours after taking Cipro before swallowing an antacid.
Vitamin and mineral formulas can also cause problems, so they should not be taken at the same time either.
Other side effects are rare, but be alert for changes in vision, rash, sores in the mouth, joint pain or stiffness, chest pain or heart palpitations, urinary changes, or breathing difficulty.
Report any symptoms or suspected side effects to your physician promptly.
Pregnant women and children should not take Cipro. Others may be allergic to this medication.
If you experience symptoms such as breathing difficulty, wheezing, sneezing, hives, or itching, obtain emergency medical attention.
Life-threatening anaphylactic shock is rare, but it demands instant treatment.
People with kidney disease should take Cipro only under careful medical supervision, as special dosage modifications may have to be made.
Liver enzyme elevations have also been noted, so periodic blood tests will be necessary if you have to take this medicine for any length of time.
Taking the Medicine
Cipro is absorbed more efficiently when it is taken on an empty stomach. The manufacturer recommends that it be swallowed two hours after a meal.
If this medicine upsets your stomach, though, it can be swallowed with food without losing potency.
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