About ciprofloxacin

Ciprofloxacin is an antibiotic. It belongs to a group of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones.

It is used to treat serious infections, or infections when other anitbiotics have not worked.

It's used to treat bacterial infections, such as:

It can be used to help stop people getting meningitis if they have been really close to someone with the infection.

Ciprofloxacin is only available on prescription.

It comes as tablets, a liquid that you drink, eardrops, eyedrops and an eye ointment. It's also given by injection, but this is usually done in hospital.

Ciprofloxacin tablets and liquid are not used as often as some other types of antibiotics because there's a risk of serious side effects.

Key facts

Who can and cannot take ciprofloxacin

Ciprofloxacin can be taken by most adults and children from the age of 1 year.

Ciprofloxacin is not suitable for some people.

To make sure ciprofloxacin is safe for you, tell your doctor if:

How and when to take it

How to take the tablets and liquid

How you take your medicine depends on the type of ciprofloxacin and what you're taking it for. Follow the instructions that come with it.

Try to space the doses evenly throughout the day. Keep taking or using this medicine until the course is finished, unless your doctor tells you to stop.

Ciprofloxacin comes as 250mg, 500mg and 750mg tablets. It also comes as a liquid that contains 250mg in a 5ml spoonful (250mg/5ml).

The usual dose of ciprofloxacin is 250mg to 750mg twice a day. For some infections you might only need to take a single dose.

Doses are usually lower for children and people with kidney problems.

Swallow the tablets whole with lots of water. Do not chew them.

Ciprofloxacin liquid comes as granules that you need to dissolve in the special liquid provided. Follow the instructions that comes with your medicine.

Before taking ciprofloxacin liquid, shake the bottle for 15 seconds to make sure the granules have dissolved.

The liquid comes with a plastic syringe or spoon to help you take the right amount. If you do not have one, ask your pharmcist for one. Do not use a kitchen teaspoon as it will not give the right dose.

You can take ciprofloxacin tablets and liquid with or without food. however, avoid dairy produce like milk, cheese and yoghurt, as they can affect how your medicine works.

How to apply the eyedrops

You'll usually put 1 or 2 drops into the affected eye 4 times a day.

For severe infections, your doctor may tell you to use the drops as often as every 15 minutes for the first 6 hours. You can then reduce how often you use it.

Do not touch your eye or eyelid with the dropper as it may cause infection to spread.

How to use the eye ointment

Put just over 1 centimetre of ointment on the affected eye 2 or 3 times a day, or as your doctor advises. If the infection is severe, your doctor may tell you to use it as often as every hour, and throughout the night.

Do not touch your eye or eyelid with the nozzle as it may cause infection to spread.

How to use the eardrops

Put up to 5 drops into the affected ear twice a day, or as your doctor advises.

What if I forget to take it?

If you forget a dose, take it as soon as you remember, unless it's nearly time for your next dose. In this case, just skip the missed dose and take your next one as normal.

Make sure you finish your full course of antibiotics. Do not have a double dose to make up for a missed dose.

If you forget doses often, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to remember your medicines

What if I take or use too much?

If you're using the eye ointment or the eye or eardrops, do not worry if you accidentally use a bit too much. This usually will not cause any problems.

Ciprofloxacin tablets or liquid

If you take more than your dose of the tablets or liquid, you may get side effects. These include feeling or being sick (nausea or vomiting), diarrhoea and a pounding or irregular hearbeat. If you have epilepsy, you might have seizures or fits.

Speak to your doctor or pharmacist if:
  • your child takes too much ciprofloxacin
  • you take 2 extra doses of ciprofloxacin or more
  • you've taken too much ciprofloxacin and are getting side effects

Side effects

Common side effects

Like all medicines, ciprofloxacin can cause side effects although not everyone gets them.

Common side effects of ciprofloxacin happen in more than 1 in 100 people. Tell your doctor if these side effects bother you or do not go away:

Serious side effects

Very few people taking or using ciprofloxacin have serious side effects.

They are less likely to happen with the eyedrops, eye ointment or eardrops.

These serious side effects can happen in less than 1 in 100 people. Stop taking ciprofloxacin and tell your doctor straight away if you have:

Call 999 or go to A&E now if:

  • you have sudden, severe pain in your stomach, chest or back

Do not drive yourself. Take the ciprofloxacin box or leaflet inside the packet plus any remaining medicine with you.

Serious allergic reaction

In rare cases, it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to ciprofloxacin.

These are not all the side effects of ciprofloxacin.

For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicines packet.

How to cope with side effects

What to do about:

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Ciprofloxacin is not usually recommended in pregnancy or when breastfeeding.

However, it is OK to use the ear or eyedrops or the eye ointment.

If you're trying to get pregnant or you're already pregnant, talk to your doctor about the benefits and possible harms of taking ciprofloxacin.

For more information about how ciprofloxacin can affect you and your baby during pregnancy, read this leaflet on the Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPS) website.

Cautions with other medicines

Mixing ciprofloxacin with herbal remedies and supplements

Some medicines can affect the way ciprofloxacin works. They can also make you more likely to get side effects.

It's important to tell your doctor if you take any of the following medicines before taking ciprofloxacin:

Iron tablets (such as ferrous sulphate or ferrous fumarate), calcium and zinc supplements can affect ciprofloxacin. Leave 2 hours in between doses of these supplements and ciprofloxacin.

There are no known problems with taking other supplements and herbal remedies with ciprofloxacin.

Common questions

How does it work? How long does it take to work? How long will I take it for? Is it safe to take for a long time? What will happen if I stop taking it? How is it different to other anitbiotics? Can I drink alcohol with it? Is there any food or drink I need to avoid? Will it affect my fertility? Will it affect my contraception? Can I drive or ride a bike?