What is Ciprofloxacin?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

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.

Ciprofloxacin is sometimes administered intravenously.
Ciprofloxacin is sometimes administered intravenously.

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.

Practically any antibiotic can cause negative side effects of some type.
Practically any antibiotic can cause negative side effects of some type.

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.

The adverse side effects of taking ciprofloxacin may include blurry vision and an increased sensitivity to sunlight.
The adverse side effects of taking ciprofloxacin may include blurry vision and an increased sensitivity to sunlight.

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.

Ciprofloxacin is one of the main antibiotics to treat anthrax.
Ciprofloxacin is one of the main antibiotics to treat anthrax.

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.

Taking ciprofloxacin may cause photosensitivity in some patients.
Taking ciprofloxacin may cause photosensitivity in some patients.
Bacterial vaginosis does not typically respond to treatment that includes ciprofloxacin.
Bacterial vaginosis does not typically respond to treatment that includes ciprofloxacin.
In most cases, ciprofloxacin can only be obtained with a doctor's prescription.
In most cases, ciprofloxacin can only be obtained with a doctor's prescription.
Blurred vision is considered a non-serious side effect of taking ciprofloxacin.
Blurred vision is considered a non-serious side effect of taking ciprofloxacin.
Severe dizziness is considered a serious side effect of taking ciprofloxacin.
Severe dizziness is considered a serious side effect of taking ciprofloxacin.
Ciprofloxacin should be administered carefully when people have liver disease.
Ciprofloxacin should be administered carefully when people have liver disease.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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