Question: My doctor prescribed the antibiotic ciprofloxacin for a urinary tract infection. But I’ve read about some bad side effects for this drug. Is there an alternative?
Dr. Hibberd's answer:
Ciprofloxacin, also called Cipro for short, is member of the quinolone family of antibiotics. It is used to treat bacterial infections in adults and is not recommended for use in children, adolescents under age 18, or in pregnancy. It is associated with of adverse effects on tendon and bone growth. It is NOT for use in pregnancy or when breastfeeding.
Quinolones are revolutionary drugs that penetrate tissue very well, but are not devoid of side effects. Up to 15 percent of patients will experience side effects of one kind or another, including some serious side-effects, as you have rightly said. The most common side effect seen is fatigue, but caution is needed in renal insufficiency and when using other drugs. Sometimes a spontaneous tendon rupture (often an achilles tendon) occurs. The rupture may occur up to several months after the drug is discontinued.
Quinolones such as Cipro may also interact with other drugs, especially anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen, antifungals, erythromycins, and blood thinners like coumadin or warfarin.
Other drugs may be used as an alternative for simple urinary tract infections. These include sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim (Bactrim, Septra), cephalexin (Keflex), ampicillin, and nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin and others). However, all drugs DO have the potential to cause side-effects, and must be taken only under the supervision of your healthcare professional.