Cipro, or ciproflaxin, is an antibiotic that doctors use to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs). However, ciproflaxin may not be suitable for UTIs during pregnancy or for people with certain health risks.

For many people, Cipro is a safe treatment for a UTI. But it is not the only option.

The United States Foods and Drug Administration (FDA) warns doctors about prescribing Cipro to certain people, as there is a potential for serious side effects.

Understanding how Cipro works and its possible side effects, can help a person make an informed choice about their UTI treatment.

This article looks at Cipro for UTIs, its potential side effects, and when a person should see a doctor.

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Cipro is the brand name for ciprofloxacin, which is a type of antibiotic in the fluoroquinolone class.

Doctors use fluoroquinolones to treat various bacterial infections. The one they prescribe depends on the underlying infection, and if the bacteria are resistant to a specific drug.

Fluoroquinolones work by interfering with bacteria’s ability to replicate and grow. This action then kills the infection.

Cipro is a widely used antibiotic because it is:

  • effective at killing bacteria
  • generally safe to use
  • relatively affordable

It is a good choice for treating a wide variety of bacterial infections caused by both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. This means that doctors can prescribe it without waiting for test results to see what specific type of bacteria is causing an infection.

It is also available in multiple formats, such as:

  • tablets
  • liquids
  • IV solutions

So, doctors can find an option for most people. As a result, medical professionals may prescribe it frequently.

Doctors often prescribe Cipro for people with UTIs, as these infections are often bacterial and respond well.

However, the FDA advises that the serious side effects may outweigh the benefits for people with uncomplicated UTIs who have other treatment options.

When a person takes Cipro for a UTI, they must follow the doctor’s instructions exactly. Usually, the medication is an oral tablet or liquid, and the course of treatment lasts for up to 14 days.

A person must complete the full course. Even if their symptoms start to ease, it is essential to finish all the medication to eliminate the infection completely. This is to prevent antibiotic resistance.

People should not stop treatment early unless a doctor tells them otherwise. Doing so may allow the infection to return and it could be worse.

When taking Cipro or any other antibiotic for a UTI, drinking extra fluids and urinating often can help flush out the infection and speed up recovery.

Side effects are usually mild with Cipro. They may include:

They generally clear up without treatment once a person stops taking Cipro.

Less common side effects may include:

  • headache
  • abdominal pain
  • pain in the extremities
  • pain in the feet
  • dizziness or fainting
  • difficulty sleeping
  • palpitations, flutters, or rapid heartbeat
  • high or low blood pressure
  • heart attack
  • fever
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • dark urine
  • oral yeast infections
  • intestinal tears
  • gastrointestinal bleeding and blood in the stool

Rarely, Cipro can cause a severe allergic reaction. Anyone who experiences any of the following symptoms should seek immediate medical care:

  • hives, forming an itchy or irritating skin rash
  • trouble swallowing or breathing
  • swelling of the tongue, lips, or face
  • tightness in the throat

Fluoroquinolone antibiotics also carry a boxed warning. This is the most serious warning from the FDA, and it means that they consider the drug to be potentially dangerous in some capacity.

The boxed warning for Cipro is for three separate risks.


Firstly, Cipro may increase the risk of tendinitis, tendon rupture, and peripheral neuropathy in people of all ages. This can lead to serious side effects, including:

  • nerve pain and a sensation of pins and needles
  • chronic pain
  • burning, numbness, or weakness in the joints and muscles
  • swelling and pain in the joints and tendons
  • tendon rupture
  • changes in the nerves of the hands, arms, feet, and legs

These symptoms may develop after just one or two doses and may continue for years. Doctors do not yet know if these issues are permanent.

The risk of tendinitis and tendon rupture is greater for people who are:

  • more than 60 years of age
  • taking corticosteroid drugs
  • recipients of kidney, lung, or heart transplants

Muscle weakness

Secondly, fluoroquinolones may worsen muscle weakness in people who have myasthenia gravis. This is a chronic, neuromuscular condition that weakens the muscles in the body.

People who have myasthenia gravis should not take Cipro.

Nervous system

Finally, Cipro may cause side effects to the central nervous system (CNS), such as:

It is also important to understand that several other antibiotics have similar side effects, though they may affect a person in slightly different ways.

The FDA classifies Cipro as safe and effective for treating UTIs for most people, and that the risk of serious side effects is low. However, they are still possible and occur often enough for the FDA to warn that doctors should only use fluoroquinolones — such as Cipro — when they have no other treatment options.

Cipro may not be right for someone who is pregnant. Pregnant people should discuss all their treatment options with a doctor before deciding.

Some limited evidence suggests Cipro is excreted in breast milk. However, people who are nursing can use Cipro, but their doctor should monitor them for digestive upset and candidiasis. They should avoid breastfeeding for 3 to 4 hours after taking the medication. Doctors may also monitor the breastfed infants for signs of thrush and/or diarrhea.

People should discuss their options with a healthcare professional to find the best treatment.

Cipro can interact with other medications. This could change how Cipro works and may lead to serious side effects.

Many drugs may interact with fluoroquinolones, such as Cipro, including:

  • warfarin
  • theophylline
  • phenytoin
  • antiarrhythmic drugs, such as amiodarone and quinidine
  • tricyclic antidepressants, such as imipramine and amitriptyline
  • duloxetine
  • cyclosporine
  • drugs to treat diabetes, such as glimepiride and glyburide
  • methotrexate
  • clozapine
  • corticosteroids

Again, people must always discuss current medications, vitamins, and supplements with a doctor before taking Cipro or another antibiotic.

The bacteria Escherichia coli, or E.coli, causes most cases of UTIs. Unfortunately, E. coli resistance to ciprofloxacin is increasing, meaning that the medical community may need to restrict the use of this antibiotic.

Therefore, doctors recommend other therapies for treating UTIs.

Other drugs that doctors may recommend for UTIs include:

  • trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, or Bactrim- combo drug
  • nitrofurantoin
  • fosfomycin

However, some of these options may also have issues with bacterial resistance. Researchers are currently investigating new treatment options for UTIs and other bacterial infections, including combination drug therapy, vaccines, and small molecules that attack specific functions in the bacteria.

If someone suspects they have a UTI, they should see a doctor. While Cipro is an effective option for many people with uncomplicated UTIs, some doctors recommend other treatment options first.

Anyone concerned about taking Cipro, or its possible side effects, should discuss them with a doctor. By working directly with a medical professional, most people can find the right solution for their UTI.

Cipro, or ciprofloxacin, is a type of antibiotic. It belongs to the fluoroquinolone class. These antibiotics can treat a wide range of bacterial infections.

Cipro may be an option for people with urinary tract infections, or UTIs. However, the medication does come with a boxed warning from the FDA.

It may not be suitable to use in certain people, for example, those who have myasthenia gravis. Like all medications, using Cipro can come with some side effects. These can range from mild to more severe effects.

In some cases, doctors may prefer to use another antibiotic to treat UTIs.