Sounds like 'sip-roh-flox-ah-sin'

Key points about ciprofloxacin

  • Ciprofloxacin is an antibiotic used to treat infections that haven't improved with other antibiotics, or when other antibiotics can't be given.
  • Ciprofloxacin is also called Cipflox®.
  • Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects.




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Ciprofloxacin is an antibiotic used to treat infections caused by bacteria. It works by killing or stopping the growth of bacteria (bugs) and getting rid of the infection. Ciprofloxacin is usually used by specialists for infections that haven't improved when you've been treated with other antibiotics, or when other antibiotics can't be used. Like all antibiotics, it's not effective against infections caused by viruses.

Note: A single dose of ciprofloxacin is given to stop the spread of meningococcal disease amongst close contacts. Read more about ciprofloxacin for meningococcal prophylaxis.

In Aotearoa New Zealand ciprofloxacin is available as tablets in different strengths (250 mg, 500 mg and 750 mg) and can be given as an injection in the hospital.

  • The dose will be different for different people depending on what it's used for.
  • Your doctor will tell you how long to take ciprofloxacin for, depending on the type of infection.
  • With most infections you should start to feel better within a few days.
  • Always take your ciprofloxacin exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much to take, how often to take it and any special instructions.

  • Timing of your doses: You can take ciprofloxacin tablets with or without food, at about the same time each day. Swallow the tablets with a drink of water, don't take with milk. Don't chew them.
  • Don't drink milk or take indigestion remedies or medicines with iron or zinc (such as multivitamin tablets) 2 hours before or after you have taken ciprofloxacin: These interfere with the way ciprofloxacin is absorbed and can stop it from working properly.
  • Missed dose: If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember. But if it's nearly time for your next dose, take the next dose at the right time. Don't take extra doses to make up for a forgotten dose. If you're not sure what to do, ask your healthcare provider.
  • Finish the course: Take the whole course of antibiotics for the number of days you've been told to. Don't stop taking it early, even if you feel your infection has cleared up. If you stop your treatment early, your infection could come back.

  • Sun sensitivity: Ciprofloxacin can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, so it's important to cover up and wear sunscreen if you spend time outside, even on a cloudy day.
  • Alcohol: Limit alcohol while you're taking ciprofloxacin. Alcohol can increase your chance of side effects, eg, dizziness or feeling faint. 
  • Other medicines: Ciprofloxacin can interact with some medicines, herbal supplements and rongoā Māori, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting ciprofloxacin and before starting any new products.
  • Dizziness: Ciprofloxacin can cause dizziness, so be careful driving or operating machinery until you know how this medicine affects you.
  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding: If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, or planning a pregnancy, let your doctor know before starting ciprofloxacin.

Like all medicines, ciprofloxacin can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Tendon problems

Ciprofloxacin can cause tendon problems, eg, tendinitis or tendon rupture. The Achilles tendon in your ankle or calf is most likely to be affected but other tendons can also be involved.

You're at higher risk if you:

  • are over 60 years of age
  • are taking steroids (eg, prednisone)
  • have chronic kidney disease or have had a kidney, heart or lung transplant.

Let your healthcare provider know straight away if you get pain and swelling in your joints. This can happen from a few hours after the first dose to several months after you've stopped the treatment.

Other problems

Side effects What should I do?
  • Feeling sick, nausea, stomach pains
  • Mild diarrhoea (runny poos)
  • Headache
  • Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
  • Problems sleeping
  • Sore muscles
  • These are quite common when you first start taking ciprofloxacin and usually go way with time.
  • Tell your doctor if they continue.
  • If you have sore muscles or joints, let your doctor know.
  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • Confusion, anxiety or low mood
  • Be careful when driving or using tools until you know how this medicine affects you.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • If you are worried, feeling anxious or feeling low, talk to your doctor.
  • Problems with your heart rate or breathing
  • Swelling of your ankles
  • Seizures
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring Healthline 0800 611 116. 
  • Signs of problems with your liver, eg, yellowing of your skin or eyes, dark urine, pain in your abdomen
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring Healthline 0800 611 116.
  • Allergic reaction, eg, skin rash, itching, swelling of your lips, face, and mouth or difficulty breathing such as chest tightness, or wheezing
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring Healthline 0800 611 116. 

Did you know that you can report a medicine side effect to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product.(external link)

Ciprofloxacin(external link) New Zealand Formulary Patient Information
(external link)

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Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist, Healthify He Puna Waiora. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland

Last reviewed: