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How Safe Is Ciprofloxacin for Children?

Doctors prescribe ciprofloxacin for children when they deem it necessary, and most of the children who take it do so without experiencing any serious side effects.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 18 July 2014
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It is difficult to give an exact answer to the question of whether ciprofloxacin is safe for children. On one hand, doctors prescribe it for children when they deem it necessary, and most of the children who take it do so without experiencing any serious side effects. The drug is, however, associated with a range of adverse effects that most doctors prefer to avoid in their young patients. As such, the drug is usually considered acceptable for treating serious bacterial infections but not safe enough to make its use routine for common bacterial infections a child may develop. When there is another drug with fewer risks that is considered effective, doctors are more likely to choose the alternative and save ciprofloxacin for when alternatives are less likely to work.

Doctors typically exercise caution when prescribing ciprofloxacin for children because of the fact that the drug has a number of serious side effects associated with it, some of which may represent more of a risk for children than adults. Physicians typically reserve its use for situations in which the benefits far outweigh the risks of using it or for when there are no other drugs that are likely to prove effective against the bacteria. For example, a doctor may be more likely to prescribe it when a child has a potentially life-threatening infection than when he has a basic ear infection.

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Among the side effects that make doctors cautious about using ciprofloxacin for children are those such as blood cell changes; visual disturbances; and disorders that affect vital organs, including the liver or the kidneys. Heart rate changes, lowered blood pressure, dizziness and fainting, and light sensitivities may also result from the use of this medication. Even such problems as tremors, hallucinations, and psychotic episodes have been reported. These serious side effects are relatively rare but are troubling enough to give one pause when considering prescribing ciprofloxacin for children.

Not all of ciprofloxacin's side effects are serious. There are also many relatively minor side effects the medication may cause in children, as they are sometimes more vulnerable to the effects of medication than adults. They include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea as well as headaches, rashes, loss of appetite, anxiety, and fatigue. Some patients may even develop joint pain and fungal infections in relation to the use of ciprofloxacin for children. Doctors may prefer to prescribe an alternative drug to avoid these side effects as well.

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