Cipro (Ciprofloxacin) Side Effects

Cipro (ciprofloxacin) is a type of antibiotic that is used to treat several different types of infections. It is in a class of broad-spectrum antibiotics called fluoroquinolones. This type of antibiotic is used to treat infections with both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. Antibiotics like cipro should only be used when clearly needed because of the risk of side effects and the potential for creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Close up of the antibiotic, Ciprofloxacin
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Side effects of ciprofloxacin are highly variable and differ from person to person. In most cases, people taking ciprofloxacin do not have any serious side effects from taking the drug.

Common Side Effects

Check with your healthcare provider if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome:

  • Upset stomach (mild)
  • Diarrhea (mild)
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Headache
  • Restlessness

Uncommon Side Effects

Check with your healthcare provider if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome:

  • Change in sense of taste
  • Increased sensitivity of the skin to sunlight

Antibiotics and IBD

Ciprofloxacin is sometimes used to treat Crohn's disease and to treat pouchitis in people who have had J-pouch surgery (ileal pouch-anal anastomosis, or IPAA) to treat their ulcerative colitis.

Antibiotics should always be used carefully, but extra caution should be taken in people who have been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) because of the risk of diarrhea and a secondary infection with a bacterium called Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile).

People with IBD may be at a greater risk of having a flare-up of the disease after taking antibiotics like Cipro.

Neurological and Central Nervous System Concerns

In May 2016, the FDA issued further warnings regarding certain effects that have been associated with ciprofloxacin, including those that can affect the tendons, muscles, joints, nerves, and central nervous system.

There is concern over this antibiotic being used as first-line therapy for uncomplicated infections. In other words, the FDA is asking healthcare providers to stop prescribing this drug for a simple infection, like a urinary tract infection, when another antibiotic that does not have these safety concerns can be used instead.

According to the FDA, some of the problems that have been described as being related to ciprofloxacin include:

  • Tendon, joint, and muscle pain
  • A "pins and needles" tingling or pricking sensation
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations

These effects or any other troubling adverse effects should be reported to a healthcare provider immediately, as the drug might need to be stopped.

Black Box Warnings

Ciprofloxacin does have black box warnings, as mandated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning is put in a drug's patient information when it is determined that there is the potential for a serious side effect.

One ciprofloxacin black box warning is in regards to tendonitis and tendon rupture. If you experience symptoms of tendinitis, seek care from a medical professional and contact the healthcare provider that prescribed the ciprofloxacin to determine how to proceed.

Fluoroquinolones are associated with an increased risk of tendinitis and tendon rupture in all ages. This risk is further increased in older patients usually over 60 years of age, in patients taking corticosteroid drugs, and in patients with kidney, heart or lung transplants.

The FDA has also issued a warning in regard to aortic dissection (tears) and rupture (of aortic aneurysms). Aortic aneurysms often occur without symptoms, but rupture may result in the sudden onset of severe and constant chest, abdominal, or back pain. People who have a history of blood vessel blockages or aneurysms, high blood pressure, or genetic conditions such as Marfan syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome may be at higher risk.

Cipro and other fluoroquinolones are also associated with an increased risk of retinal detachment.

In addition to risk factors noted above, people who have or are predisposed to collagen disorders should only be treated with fluoroquinolones if alternative options are unavailable.

When to Seek Urgent Care

Don't delay in seeking medical attention or going to the emergency room if you experience:

  • Sunburn or skin blistering; the sensation of skin burning
  • Skin itching, rash, hives, redness, or swelling
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Swelling of the face or throat
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Dark urine
  • Pale or dark stools
  • Blood in urine
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Vaginal infection
  • Vision changes
  • Pain, inflammation, or rupture of a tendon

A Word From Verywell

Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare provider. This information is meant only as a guideline; always consult a healthcare provider or pharmacist for complete information about prescription medications.

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Nitzan O, Elias M, Peretz A, Saliba W. Role of antibiotics for treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. World J Gastroenterol. 2016;22(3):1078-87. doi:10.3748/wjg.v22.i3.1078

  2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA advises restricting fluoroquinolone antibiotic use for certain uncomplicated infections; warns about disabling side effects that can occur together." 7 March 2018.

  3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA advises restricting fluoroquinolone antibiotic use for certain uncomplicated infections; warns about disabling side effects that can occur together. May 12, 2016.

  4. Shimatsu K, Subramaniam S, Sim H, Aronowitz P. Ciprofloxacin-induced tendinopathy of the gluteal tendons. J Gen Intern Med. 2014;29(11):1559-62. doi:10.1007/s11606-014-2960-4

  5. Food and Drug Administration. FDA warns about increased risk of ruptures or tears in the aorta blood vessel with fluoroquinolone antibiotics in certain patients. 12/21/18.

  6. Yu X, Jiang DS, Wang J, et al. Fluoroquinolone Use and the Risk of Collagen-Associated Adverse Events: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Drug Safety. 2019;42(9):1025-1033. doi:10.1007/s40264-019-00828-z

Additional Reading

By Amber J. Tresca
Amber J. Tresca is a freelance writer and speaker who covers digestive conditions, including IBD. She was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at age 16.