Health Guide
Drug Guide

Fluoroquinolone (Oral route, injection route, intravenous route)

Brand Names:

Dosage Forms:

Uses of This Medicine:

Fluoroquinolones are used to treat bacterial infections in many different parts of the body. They work by killing bacteria or preventing their growth. However, these medicines will not work for colds, flu, or other virus infections. Fluoroquinolones may also be used for other problems as determined by your doctor.

Enoxacin (Penetrex(R)) was withdrawn from the market by Aventis Pharmaceuticals effective August 2001 .

Gatifloxacin (Tequin(R)) tablets and injection were voluntarily discontinued by Bristol-Myers Squibb effective June 2, 2006 .

Sparfloxacin (Zagam(R)) is no longer available in the United States effective August 28, 2007.

Once a medicine has been approved for marketing for a certain use, experience may show that it is also useful for other medical problems. Although these uses are not included in product labeling, fluoroquinolones are used in certain patients with the following medical conditions:

Before Using This Medicine:


Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to medicines in this group or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.


Use is not recommended for infants or children younger than 18 years of age since fluoroquinolones have been shown to cause bone development problems in young animals. However, your doctor may choose to use one of these medicines if other medicines cannot be used.

Older adults

These medicines have been tested and, in effective doses, have not been shown to cause different side effects or problems in older people than they do in younger adults.


Studies have not been done in humans. However, use is not recommended during pregnancy since fluoroquinolones have been reported to cause bone development problems in young animals. Before taking a fluoroquinolone, make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or if you may become pregnant.


Some of the fluoroquinolones are known to pass into human breast milk. Since fluoroquinolones have been reported to cause bone development problems in young animals, breast-feeding is not recommended during treatment with these medicines. Be sure you have discussed the risks and benefits of the medicine with your doctor.

Other medicines

Using medicines in this class with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with a medication in this class or change some of the other medicines you take.

Using medicines in this class with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

Other interactions

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Other medical problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of medicines in this class. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

Proper Use of This Medicine:

Do not take fluoroquinolones if you are pregnant. Do not give fluoroquinolones to infants, children, or teenagers unless otherwise directed by your doctor. These medicines have been shown to cause bone development problems in young animals.

Fluoroquinolones should be used only to treat bacterial infections and not viral infections like the common cold. To help clear up your infection completely, keep taking your medicine for the full time of treatment, even if you begin to feel better after a few days. If you stop taking this medicine too soon, your symptoms may return.

Fluoroquinolones are best taken with a full glass (8 ounces) of water. Several additional glasses of water should be taken every day, unless you are otherwise directed by your doctor. Drinking extra water will help to prevent some unwanted effects of ciprofloxacin and norfloxacin.

Norfloxacin should be taken on an empty stomach.

Ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, lomefloxacin, moxifloxacin, or ofloxacin may be taken with meals or on an empty stomach. Ciprofloxacin should NOT be taken with dairy products or calcium-fortified juices alone, but may be taken with a meal that contains these products.

This medicine works best when there is a constant amount in the blood or urine. To help keep the amount constant, do not miss any doses. Also, it is best to take the doses at evenly spaced times, day and night. For example, if you are to take two doses a day, the doses should be spaced about 12 hours apart. If this interferes with your sleep or other daily activities, or if you need help in planning the best times to take your medicine, check with your doctor.

If you need to take this medicine for anthrax, your doctor will want you to begin taking it as soon as possible after you are exposed to anthrax.


The dose medicines in this class will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of these medicines. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

Missed dose

If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.


Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.

Keep out of the reach of children.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Ciprofloxacin oral suspension may be refrigerated. However, keep this medicine from freezing.

Precautions While Using This Medicine:

If your symptoms do not improve within a few days, or if they become worse, check with your doctor.

If you are taking aluminum- or magnesium-containing antacids, didanosine, or sucralfate, do not take them at the same time that you take this medicine. It is best to take these medicines at least 6 hours before or 2 hours after taking ciprofloxacin; at least 2 hours before or 2 hours after taking levofloxacin, norfloxacin, or ofloxacin; at least 4 hours before or 2 hours after taking lomefloxacin, and at least 8 hours before and 4 hours after taking moxifloxacin. These medicines may keep fluoroquinolones from working properly.

If you are taking metal cations such as iron, and multivitamin preparations with zinc, or didanosine (Videx) chewable/buffered tablets or the pediatric powder for oral solution take moxifloxacin at least 4 hours before or 8 hours after and take ciprofloxacin at least 2 hours before or 6 hours after taking these medicines.

If you are taking levofloxacin or lomefloxacin, you should not take certain medications which correct a fast, slow or irregular heartbeat. Check with your doctor to determine whether you are taking one of these medications.

Some people who take fluoroquinolones may become more sensitive to sunlight than they are normally. Exposure to sunlight, even for brief periods of time, may cause severe sunburn, or skin rash, redness, itching, or discoloration. When you begin taking this medicine:

Levofloxacin may cause serious liver problems, including hepatitis. Stop taking this medicine and check with your doctor right away if you start having nausea or vomiting, dark urine, light-colored stools, stomach pain, or yellow eyes or skin while you are using this medicine .

Tell your doctor right away if you start having numbness, tingling, or burning pain in your hands, arms, legs, or feet. These may be symptoms of a condition called peripheral neuropathy .

Fluoroquinolones may also cause some people to become dizzy, lightheaded, drowsy, or less alert than they are normally. Make sure you know how you react to this medicine before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that can be dangerous if you are dizzy or are not alert. If these reactions are especially bothersome, check with your doctor.

Fluoroquinolones may rarely cause inflammation or even tearing of a tendon (the cord that attaches muscles to bones). If you get sudden pain in a tendon after exercise (for example, in your ankle, back of the knee or leg, shoulder, elbow, or wrist), stop taking the fluoroquinolone and check with your doctor. Rest and do not exercise until the doctor has made sure that you have not injured or torn the tendon.

This medicine may cause a serious type of allergic reaction which can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Stop taking this medicine and call your doctor right away if you have itching, hives, hoarseness, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, or any swelling of your hands, face, or mouth while you are using this medicine .

For patients with diabetes taking insulin or diabetes medicine by mouth: Levofloxacin may cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in some patients. Symptoms of low blood sugar must be treated before they lead to unconsciousness (passing out). Different people may feel different symptoms of low blood sugar. If you experience symptoms of low blood sugar, stop taking levofloxacin and check with your doctor right away:

For patients with low potassium levels: levofloxacin may increase your risk of experiencing a fast, slow or irregular heartbeat.

Side Effects of This Medicine:

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

More common
(Less common for moxifloxacin; rare for lomefloxacin)
irregular or slow heart rate
Less common
(More common for lomefloxacin)
Blistering of skin
bloating or swelling of face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet
blurred vision
pounding in the ears
rapid weight gain
sensation of skin burning
skin itching, rash, redness, or swelling
slow or fast heartbeat
tingling of hands or feet
unusual weight gain or loss
Abdominal or stomach cramps and pain (severe)
abdominal pain
abdominal tenderness
area rash
black, tarry stools
blistering, itching, loosening, peeling, or redness of skin
blisters on mucous membranes, with fever
bloody or cloudy urine
burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
chest pain
clay-colored stools
dark or amber urine
diarrhea (watery and severe, which may also be bloody)
difficulty breathing
difficulty swallowing
discoloration of skin
dry mouth
excessive muscle tone
faintness, dizziness, or light-headedness when getting up from a lying or sitting position suddenly
fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat or pulse
flushed, dry skin
feeling of pressure
feeling of unreality
feeling of warmth or heat
flushing or redness of skin especially on face and neck
fruit-like breath odor
hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there)
hives or welts
increased hunger
increased thirst
increased urination
irregular or fast heart rate
joint pain
lack or loss of strength
large amount of fat in the blood
loss of appetite
loss of memory
lower back, side, or stomach pain
muscle stiffness
muscle tension or tightness
noisy breathing
pain at site of injection for ciprofloxacin or ofloxacin injection
pain in calves, radiating to heels
pain, warmth, or burning in fingers, toes and legs
painful or difficult urination
pale stools
peeling of the skin
problems with memory
problems with speech or speaking
problems with vision or hearing
rash with flat lesions or small raised lesions on the skin
redness of skin
redness, swelling, or soreness of tongue
sense of detachment from self or body
shakiness or tremors
shortness of breath
sore throat
sores, ulcers, or white spots on lips or in mouth
stomach pain
swelling of calves, feet, or lower legs
swelling of face or neck
swelling or inflammation of the mouth
swelling or puffiness of face
tightness in chest
troubled breathing
unpleasant breath odor
unusual tiredness or weakness
vomiting of blood
yellow eyes or skin
Incidence not known
Abnormal brain wave patterns
black, tarry stools
bleeding gums
blurred vision
difficult breathing
failure of the heart, lungs, kidneys and/or liver
general body swelling
inability to move arms and legs
increased bleeding time
irregular reading on an electrocardiogram (heart test)
joint or muscle pain
sharp drop in blood pressure
sore throat
sudden numbness and weakness in the arms and legs
swollen glands
unsteadiness or awkwardness
unusual bleeding or bruising
weakness in arms, hands, legs, or feet

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common
Abdominal or stomach pain or discomfort (mild)
diarrhea (mild)
trouble in sleeping
vaginal pain and discharge
Less common or rare
Abnormal dream
acid or sour stomach
back pain
bad, unusual, or unpleasant (after) taste
bloated, full feeling
burning feeling in chest or stomach
burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
change in sense of smell
change in sense of taste
change in vision
continuing ringing or buzzing or other unexplained noise in ears
difficulty in sleeping
difficulty in speaking
difficulty in urination
excess air or gas in stomach or intestines
feeling of constant movement of self or surroundings
general feeling of discomfort or illness
hearing loss
impaired vision
increased sensitivity of skin to sunlight
mental depression
pain, swelling, or redness in joints
passing gas
pelvic pain
pinpoint red or purple spots on skin
puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
quick to react or overreact emotionally
rapidly changing moods
sensation of spinning
shortness of breath
sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
sore mouth or tongue, or white patches in mouth and/or on tongue
spots on skin resembling a blister or pimple
stomach discomfort, upset, or pain
tenderness in stomach area
thinking, abnormal
tongue discoloration
unable to sleep
vaginal yeast infection
vision problems
weight loss

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Last Updated: 6/12/2013

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