Ciprofloxacin is usually prescribed for respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections, infections of the gastro-intestinal system, bone and joint infections, and sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea. It can also be used to treat traveller's diarrhoea, in adults for whom it is suitable. For traveller's diarrhoea, a course of ciprofloxacin should only be taken if you experience the condition - it should not be taken as a preventative.
In some parts of the world, there is a high rate of resistance to ciprofloxacin (such as south and south-east Asia). In such situations, azithromycin is a more appropriate choice of antibiotic.
On average, ciprofloxacin reduces the duration of traveller's diarrhoea from 3 days to 1.5 days.
How do I use Ciprofloxacin?
The usual dose of ciprofloxacin for travellers' diarrhoea is 500mg twice a day for a single day. The tablets should be swallowed with liquid, and can be taken with or without food. You should drink plenty of liquid during the course of treatment to avoid dehydration. Some antacids (for indigestion), iron supplements, milk, and foods or dairy products with a high calcium content, may reduce the effectiveness of ciprofloxacin and should not be taken at the same time of day - take ciprofloxacin at least 1-2 hours before them, or 4 hours after them.
As with all antibiotics, it's important to continue taking the full course of medicine unless told to stop by the doctor; or when used for traveller's diarrhoea, until the diarrhoea resolves. If the diarrhoea symptoms persist or worsen despite the use of ciprofloxacin, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible, as this may indicate that the cause of the diarrhoea is not a bacterial infection and a different treatment approach may be needed.
There are some situations where ciprofloxacin should be used with caution or would not be recommended, for example in patients who have had an allergic reaction to ciprofloxacin or other quinolone drugs in the past, myasthenia gravis, epilepsy, a history of stroke or other central nervous system problems, problems with the heart rhythm, or a glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency.
Tell the doctor if you are taking any other medicines, either from your doctor or purchased from a pharmacy. Ciprofloxacin may not be suitable or may need to be used with caution if you are taking some medicines such as methotrexate, tizanidine, theophylline, clozapine, ropinirole, or anticoagulants (such as warfarin). This list is not exhaustive so please ensure you mention all the medicines you are taking during the consultation.
What are the side effects of Ciprofloxacin?
Like all medicines, ciprofloxacin can cause side effects, although not everybody will experience them. Side effects that are considered to be common include diarrhoea and nausea. Other uncommon side effects include anorexia, agitation, disorientation, headaches, sleep disorders, muscle pain, and skin rashes or itching.
Ciprofloxacin can affect your reaction times, particularly at the start of treatment, and especially if combined with alcohol. For this reason, your ability to drive or perform other skilled tasks may be compromised.
For a full list of potential side effects and other important information, please read the patient leaflet provided in the pack before starting any course of treatment. The leaflet can also be viewed online here.