Taking Cipro for UTI can cause serious side effects. Since 2016 FDA does not recommend Cipro for the first time UTI sufferers who have no complications.
Cipro is a part of fluoroquinolones family of drugs. These drugs include:
- Avelox (moxifloxacin)
- Cipro and Cipro extended-release (ciprofloxacin)
- Factive (gemifloxacin)
- Levaquin (levofloxacin)
- Ofloxacin (a generic brand)
Check out this alternative antibiotic options: Top 5 Recommended Antibiotics For UTI.
Fluoroquinolones work by preventing bacterial DNA from unwinding and duplicating. It is a broad-spectrum antibiotic (effective for both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria). The Infectious Diseases Society of America recommends fluoroquinolones for:
- Second-line treatment of patients with allergies to other antibiotics
- Patients with treatment failure to primary antibiotics
- And patients with pathogens that are resistant to first-line antibiotics.
Dangers of Cipro for UTI treatment
Cipro has been on the market for over 25 years and this might be why physicians still casually prescribe it. For example, when ordering Cipro for UTI treatment my doctor did not spend much time to explain potential dangers.
Since majority will tolerate this drug well (only 0.2%-0.4% of patients develop serious side-effects) most doctors might never encounter the devastating results of their treatment decision. However when they do happen the adverse effects are serious, long-term, and often permanent.
The awareness in the medical community of the dangers of Cipro is still extremely poor and often the concerns of patients suffering from adverse effects are dismissed as ‘not possible,’ despite studies and literature citing these very effects i.e. neuropathy, tendon ruptures, neuromuscular damage, cartilage damage and others.
I was lucky to not experience any apparent side effects so far but you must know the dangers and weight all the risks before starting these antibiotics.
1. Fluoroquinolone toxicity syndrome (floxing)
FDA “black label” and your own physician will make you believe that tendon rupture is the worst possible thing that can happen to you when taking Cipro and other Fluoroquinolone drugs. However, there are plenty of documented cases and various activists describing much more devastating effects. Here is a high-level list of My Quin Story:
- Connective tissue damage– not just tendons but cartilage, ligaments, other collagenous tissue,
- Neuropathy (permanent), and neuromuscular weakness
- Central nervous system damage that is severe, frightening and disabling (including convulsions, anxiety, confusion, depression, and insomnia)
- Heart, GI, and vision issues.
Unfortunately and uniquely for this class of drugs, the adverse symptoms do not appear right away. Instead, it might take days, weeks, or months after successfully finishing the course to start experiencing and noticing the damage.
2. Psychological damage
Fluoroquinolones cross the blood-brain barrier. This can result in psychiatric events, depression, and suicidal thoughts, panic attacks, as well as anger directed at yourself and others.
You might also experience agitation, anxiety, irritability, restlessness, confusion, hallucinations, and psychosis.
3. Significant global impact on the gut microbiota
Fluoroquinolones have a significant global impact on the gut microbiota. They reduce the number of good bacteria strains in your gut and vagina.
Disturbed gut microbiota is associated with numerous diseases including gastrointestinal disorders such as celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease, as well as other systemic diseases including obesity, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
You are also at higher risk of developing C. diff diarrhea.
Risk factors for serious fluoroquinolones side-effects
Risk factors have not been conclusively determined but many studies reference higher risk for:
- People who are 60 years and older
- Patients who are also taking corticosteroids
- Those who have pre-existing kidney disease.
Bottom line, run for your life if you have your first uncomplicated UTI and your physician prescribes you Cipro. Or simply ask for something else instead (for example Macrobid).
QUINOLONE ANTIBIOTICS, THOUGH TOLERATED BY MANY, SHOULD ONLY BE DISPENSED WHEN THERE IS NO SAFER ALTERNATIVE DUE TO THE SEVERITY AND PERMANENCE OF ADVERSE EFFECTS.
Please watch out for yourself and your loved ones and ask for alternatives if your doctor prescribes you ciprofloxacin or levofloxacin.