Overview of Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) Medication

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Cipro (generic name: ciprofloxacin) is classified as an antibacterial drug, which is an antibiotic. Antibacterial drugs like Cipro are used to treat bacterial infections. Ciprofloxacin may be used to treat infections in people who have Crohn's disease.

What Are the Side Effects of Cipro?

Some uncommon but serious side effects from Cipro include difficulty breathing or swallowing, sunburn or blistering, seizures or convulsions, and tendinopathy/tendon rupture. If you experience any of these symptoms call your doctor immediately.

Cipro may also cause sensitivity to sunlight (including tanning beds or lamps). Reactions can include sunburn, skin rash, redness, and itching. Take precautions such as wearing protective clothing (long pants and shirts, hats, sunglasses) and a sunscreen.

Cipro may increase the effects that caffeine has on the body, such as nervousness. Caffeine is found in many soft drinks, tea, coffee, and even chocolate, so be aware of the caffeine content of your food while taking Cipro.

Other side effects include dizziness, lightheadedness, headache, restlessness, and tiredness. See the Cipro side effects page for a complete list.

How Is It Taken?

Cipro is taken orally in tablet form or occasionally as an IV drip. For Cipro to work properly and kill the bacteria causing an infection, it is important to maintain a constant level of Cipro in the blood. Therefore, it must be taken at regular intervals without missing any doses, usually every 12 hours, although this can vary depending on the situation. Take Cipro with eight ounces of water (one glass). It should never be taken at the same time as antacids, iron or zinc supplements (including multivitamins that contain these minerals). Instead, Cipro should only be taken at least two hours before or six hours after these supplements.

Why Is It Prescribed?

Cipro is used to fight a wide variety of infections that may occur in different areas of the body, including pneumonia, infectious diarrhea, typhoid fever, and bone, joint, skin, and urinary tract infections.

What Do I Do If I Miss a Dose?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If your next dose should be taken soon, just take that dose. Don't double up or take more than one dose at a time.

Who Should Not Take Cipro?

Children should not take Cipro except in special circumstances. Tell your doctor if you are planning on having any surgery, including dental surgery, while taking Cipro.

Before taking Cipro, tell your doctor if you have or have ever had:

  • Allergic reaction to any drug
  • Currently pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart disease
  • History of stroke
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Tendonitis

If I Start to Feel Better, Can I Stop Taking Cipro?

NO. As you are treated with Cipro, you may start to feel better, but that does not mean the infection is entirely gone. Take all of the medication that was prescribed to you unless your healthcare professional tells you to stop. Stopping an antibiotic before the bacterial infection is completely gone can result in serious consequences.

What Are Some Possible Drug Interactions?

Cipro can interact with several drugs. Tell the prescribing physician about all drugs and nutritional supplements you are taking, especially those from the following list that may interact with Cipro:

  • Antacids
  • Caffeine
  • Cancer chemotherapy agents
  • Cinoxacin
  • Cyclosporine
  • Cimetidine
  • Enoxacin
  • Glyburide
  • Iron
  • Levofloxacin
  • Lomefloxacin
  • Nalidixic acid
  • Norfloxacin
  • Ofloxacin
  • Other antibiotics
  • Phenytoin
  • Probenecid
  • Sparfloxacin
  • Sucralfate
  • Theophylline
  • Warfarin
  • Zinc

Is Cipro Safe During Pregnancy?

No. The Food and Drug Administration has classified Cipro as a type C drug. The effect that Cipro has on an unborn child has not been studied extensively in humans; however, it has been shown to increase bone development problems in animals. Notify the prescribing doctor immediately if you become pregnant while taking Cipro. Cipro is not recommended during breastfeeding, as it does pass into breast milk and could affect a nursing infant.

Will Cipro Make Diarrhea From IBD Worse?

Antibiotics kill off bacteria in the body. They aren't able to distinguish between "good" and "bad" bacteria. Therefore, "good" bacteria in the colon (or elsewhere in the body) may be killed along with the "bad," resulting in diarrhea. However, sometimes Cipro is used to kill bacteria that cause diarrhea, so Cipro can both cause and cure diarrhea depending on the situation For more information on antibiotic-associated diarrhea and how to treat it, see this article about antibiotics that may cause diarrhea.

How Long Can I Take Cipro?

Your doctor will tell you how long you are to take Cipro—don’t take it for longer than prescribed. Use of Cipro for long periods of time may result in yeast infections in the mouth, rectum or vagina, as well as tendon rupture/tendinopathy. Crystals in the kidney are also a potential adverse effect of Cipro, but this risk is lowered by drinking the recommended amount of fluids each day (check with your doctor about the right amount for you).

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  1. Wu XW, Ji HZ, Wang FY. Meta-analysis of ciprofloxacin in treatment of Crohn's disease. Biomed Rep. 2015;3(1):70-74. doi:10.3892/br.2014.368

Additional Reading
  • Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc. "Cipro Medication Guide [PDF]." Merck & Co., Inc. March 2011.
  • PDR Health. "Cipro." Thomson Healthcare 2011.
  • The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc. " Ciprofloxacin." AHFS Consumer Medication Information. 15 Jun 2011.