Take your doses at regularly spaced intervals (ideally every 12 hours), and drink several glasses of water each day.
It is important to complete the full course of treatment. This is to prevent the infection from coming back.
Some things can interfere with ciprofloxacin. Do not drink milk or take antacids or vitamin supplements containing iron or zinc, during the two hours before you take ciprofloxacin or during the two hours after you have taken a dose. It will reduce the effectiveness of your treatment.
|Type of medicine||A quinolone antibiotic|
|Used for||Treating infections|
|Available as||Tablets, oral liquid medicine and injection|
Ciprofloxacin is given to treat a bacterial infection. It is useful for treating infections such as chest infections, urine infections, prostatitis, infections of the digestive system, bone and joint infections, and some sexually transmitted infections. It works by killing the bacteria which are the cause of the infection.
Some eye infections are also treated with ciprofloxacin. There is a separate medicine leaflet available called Ciprofloxacin eye preparations which provides further information about this.
Before taking ciprofloxacin
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking ciprofloxacin it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby, or breast-feeding.
- If you are under 18 years of age. This is because ciprofloxacin is only prescribed for children under the supervision of a doctor who is a specialist.
- If you have ever experienced a problem with your tendons, called tendonitis.
- If you have any problems with the way your kidneys work.
- If you have epilepsy or any other condition that causes fits.
- If you have a heart condition, or if you have been told you have an unusual heartbeat.
- If you have a condition causing tired and weak muscles, called myasthenia gravis.
- If you know you have glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency. This is a genetic disorder which causes problems after eating foods such as fava beans.
- If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine. It is particularly important that you tell your doctor if you have had a problem after taking another quinolone antibiotic (these are called norfloxacin, ofloxacin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, and nalidixic acid).
How to take ciprofloxacin
- Before you start taking ciprofloxacin, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. The manufacturer's leaflet will give you more information about the medicine and a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
- Take ciprofloxacin exactly as your doctor tells you to. It is usually taken twice daily for a week or so, although some infections can be treated with a single tablet. Read the label carefully to make sure you know what dose is right for you.
- Many people find it helps to swallow the tablets with a drink of water. You should swallow the tablets whole - do not crush or chew them as they have an unpleasant taste. You should not take ciprofloxacin with milk or fortified orange juice as these drinks can interfere with the way it works.
- You can take ciprofloxacin before or after meals. Try to space out your doses - so ideally, take a dose every 12 hours. Try to drink several glasses of water during the day, as this will help the medicine pass through your body.
- Do not drink milk or take indigestion remedies (antacids) or medicines containing iron or zinc (such as multivitamin tablets), during the two hours before you take ciprofloxacin, or during the two hours after you have taken a dose. This is because these things interfere with the way ciprofloxacin is absorbed by your body, and stop it from working fully. Milk used to prepare meals will not affect the absorption of ciprofloxacin.
- If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If, when you remember, your next dose is due, then take the dose which is due but leave out the forgotten one. Do not 'double up' to to make up for a missed dose.
- Even if you feel your infection has cleared up, keep taking the antibiotic until the course is finished (unless you are told to stop by your doctor). This is to prevent the infection from coming back. A course of treatment usually lasts for about a week or so, although it can range from 3-28 days. If you still feel unwell after finishing the course of treatment, go back to see your doctor.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Remember to keep any routine appointments with your doctor. This is so your progress can be monitored.
- Ciprofloxacin may cause your skin to become more sensitive to sunlight than normal. Protect your skin by using a sunscreen, particularly if you are exposed to strong sunlight for a prolonged period of time. Do not use sunbeds.
- If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with this antibiotic. In particular, do not take painkillers called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, while you are taking ciprofloxacin.
- Some people develop thrush (redness and itching in the mouth or vagina) after taking a course of antibiotics. If you think you have thrush, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
- This antibiotic may stop the oral typhoid vaccine from working. If you are due to have any vaccinations, make sure the person treating you knows that you are taking this medicine.
- Ciprofloxacin may make you feel light-headed and impair your ability to concentrate. Make sure your reactions are normal before you drive or use tools or machines.
- If you have diabetes, you may need to check your blood glucose levels more regularly, as ciprofloxacin can affect the levels of sugar in your blood.
Can ciprofloxacin cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with ciprofloxacin. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Common ciprofloxacin side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people)||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling or being sick||Stick to simple foods - avoid rich or spicy meals. It may help to take your doses after food|
|Diarrhoea||Drink plenty of water to replace lost fluids. If the diarrhoea is severe or continues to be a problem, speak with your pharmacist or doctor for advice|
Important: there are also a number of rare but more serious side-effects which have been associated with ciprofloxacin. Speak with your doctor as soon as possible if you experience the following:
- An allergic-type reaction, such as swelling around your face or mouth, a skin rash, or any difficulty breathing.
- Pain or swelling in your joints.
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
How to store ciprofloxacin
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
- If you have been given liquid medicine, it will have been made up by the pharmacy and lasts for 14 days. Remember to check the expiry date on the bottle and do not use it after this date.
Important information about all medicines
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
If you are having an operation or any dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine, ask your pharmacist.
Further reading & references
- Manufacturer's PIL, Ciproxin® Tablets 500 mg; Bayer plc, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated September 2013.
- British National Formulary; 66th Edition (September 2013) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Dr Adrian Bonsall