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What is Ciprofloxacin?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2016
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Ciprofloxacin is an antibiotic that is used to treat some bacterial infections. It is one of several drugs that belong to an antibiotic group called fluoroquinolones. These act on the DNA of bacteria by interrupting the way it can reproduce. Ciprofloxacin, which is also known by alternate names like Cipro, can be very effective, but it’s usually used only when other antibiotics don’t or can’t work. It’s associated with a high number of dangerous side effects, and the risk versus benefit of using any of the fluoroquinolones is always carefully weighed. There are good reasons to use ciprofloxacin in certain instances; for example, it is one of the main medicines used to treat anthrax or other bacterial infections that are unresponsive to different antibacterial groups.

In most countries, people can only obtain ciprofloxacin with a doctor’s prescription. The medication is available in several oral formulations and dosage can depend on the condition being treated, and age of the patient. The medication is also available in injectable forms and might be used as part of intravenous antibiotic treatment. When patients receive this medication, it’s important that they completely finish taking it. Sometimes people begin to feel better as the antibiotic goes to work, and they assume it is okay to stop taking the medicine. This creates a strong risk for the infection rebounding with much greater force, and this may make it much harder to treat.

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There are many medications that ciprofloxacin negatively interacts with, including quinidine, amiodarone, and disopyramide. Many of these drugs treat heart rhythm conditions. There are other medications that may interact, including many antacids, and patients should discuss all the medications they take with their doctor before accepting a prescription for this drug. Ciprofloxacin is also contraindicated or needs to be administered carefully when people have certain conditions like diabetes, epilepsy, kidney or liver disease, myasthenia gravis, or certain heart rhythm disorders that affect QT intervals.

Some of the more serious risks of taking ciprofloxacin include that it can cause serious tendon injury. Other side effects that require immediate medical attention include reduction in urination, yellowing of the eyes, confusion, sudden psychosis or hallucinations, or seizures. Most people will tolerate the medication without very many side effects but they might experience a feeling of nervousness, blurred vision, stomach upset, and photosensitivity (greater sensitivity to sunlight). If any of these side effects become extremely bothersome, patients should discuss this with their prescribing physician.

All medications have advantages and disadvantages. Ciprofloxacin is no exception and can be of extraordinary use in medical care or problematic to use for some patients. Patients can be proactive when receiving a drug with a heavy side effect profile by paying attention to expected side effects and reporting any symptoms that seem unusual or concerning. In this manner, drugs like ciprofloxacin can be effectively used.

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