Ciprofloxacin is the generic form of the brand-name antibiotic Cipro.
Doctors prescribe ciprofloxacin to treat or prevent infections caused by various bacteria that are sensitive to ciprofloxacin.
The drug works by preventing bacteria from reproducing. Ciprofloxacin belongs to a family of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved ciprofloxacin in 1987 for Bayer Healthcare under the brand name Cipro.
In 2004, the FDA approved generic ciprofloxacin for several drug manufacturers.
Today, companies also sell ciprofloxacin under the brand names Cipro XR Extended-Release Tablets and Proquin XR Extended-Release Tablets.
Doctors prescribe ciprofloxacin to treat infections caused by many different species of bacteria, including:
Common infections treated with ciprofloxacin include:
Ciprofloxacin won't work against infections caused by viruses (such as colds and the flu), so your doctor will prescribe ciprofloxacin only if it's very likely that you have a bacterial infection.
That's because using antibiotics like ciprofloxacin against viruses or other illnesses they can't treat increases the chance that in time they will no longer work against bacterial infections either.
Known as drug resistance, this growing worldwide threat develops because bacteria can adapt, making antibiotics less effective or not effective at all.
These multi-drug-resistant bacteria, or "superbugs," can spread through direct contact, or indirectly in food or water.
In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that a surge in gonorrhea rates in 17 American cities between 1991 and 2006 might have been due to ciprofloxacin resistance.
The CDC noted that roughly 820,000 gonorrhea cases develop in the United States each year and that antibiotic-resistant bacteria could affect treatment and control efforts for this sexually transmitted infection.
Ciprofloxacin may increase the risk for swelling and tearing of tendons, such as those that attach muscles to bones in the hands, shoulders, and ankles.
The likelihood of tendon damage is greater if you also take a steroid medication or if you're older than 60. If you experience pain, swelling, or stiffness while taking ciprofloxacin, let your doctor know.
In some people, ciprofloxacin may cause changes in brain activity. This affects people with a history of seizures.
Possible symptoms of these changes include dizziness, hallucinations, tremors, seizures, confusion, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
If you have any of these symptoms while on ciprofloxacin, let your doctor know right away.
Ciprofloxacin may cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis if you are allergic to it.
This allergic reaction, which can be life-threatening, may include hives, swelling of the throat, and difficulty breathing.
It's important to know that once you start a course of ciprofloxacin, you should finish the whole course.
Do not stop taking ciprofloxacin, even if you feel better, until all of the medication is gone.
If you don't take an antibiotic long enough, your infection can come back stronger. And stopping ciprofloxacin too soon can lead to bacteria becoming resistant to it.
You may not be able to take ciprofloxacin if you have a condition called myasthenia gravis. Ciprofloxacin may increase muscle weakness caused by this condition.
You should also take ciprofloxacin with caution if you have certain conditions. Tell your doctor if you have:
- Heartburn or reflux
- Tendon injury
- Heart condition
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
Ciprofloxacin and Pregnancy
Before taking ciprofloxacin, women should let their doctor know if they are or may be pregnant or if they're breastfeeding.
It's unknown whether ciprofloxacin is safe to take during pregnancy.
Experts do know that ciprofloxacin passes through breast milk, so it is not safe to take if you are breastfeeding.
Except for children with a few specific and serious infections, no one younger than 18 should take ciprofloxacin.
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