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How Effective Is Ciprofloxacin for Pneumonia?

By Maggie J. Hall
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The effectiveness of taking ciprofloxacin for pneumonia largely depends on the particular bacterial strain causing the ailment. Ciprofloxacin, commonly called Cipro®, belongs to the fluoroquinolone group of antibiotics, which are frequently used to treat respiratory infections because of the wide range of bacterial organisms they destroy. Quinolones are not effective against fungal or viral infections, however. Ciprofloxacin can produce a number of side effects and has been associated with an increased risk of tendinitis or tendon rupture.

According to research, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae cause the majority of pneumonia cases. Studies indicate that ciprofloxacin is only effective against these bacterial strains if they are not penicillin or methicillin resistant. It is effective, however, against many other bacteria causing pneumonias, including Haemophilius influenzae, Moraxella catarrhalis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Besides prescribing ciprofloxacin for pneumonia, physicians use ciprofloxacin for sinusitis, skin and structural infections, bone and joint infections, and urinary tract infections. This medication is also used to treats anthrax and typhoid infections.

Available in coated tablet, oral suspension, and intravenous solution, ciprofloxacin eliminates susceptible bacterial infections by interfering with the enzymes topoisomerase II and IV. Without these vital components, bacteria are unable to repair, replicate, and transcribe deoxyribonucleic acid, commonly called DNA. Patients typically take the prescribed dosage twice a day, every 12 hours, for a designated length of time.

Patients can take ciprofloxacin with or without food, but absorption increases when consumed with a meal. Those who require aluminum- or magnesium-containing antacids should take these preparations either two hours before or after taking ciprofloxacin for pneumonia. Calcium, iron and zinc also inhibit proper absorption of the drug. The medication, itself, interferes with caffeine elimination. Ciprofloxacin interacts with many commonly prescribed medications, including blood thinners, oral diabetic formulations, and seizure medications.

The most common side effects that patients experience while taking ciprofloxacin for pneumonia are diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Yeast infections and exacerbated gastrointestinal symptoms associated with the clostridium bacteria may also occur. Patients using ciprofloxacin might also experience dizziness, nervousness, extreme fatigue, or insomnia. Serious adverse effects include allergic reactions, bone and joint stiffness, blood pressure irregularities, and cardiac dysrhythmias.

Risks associated with ciprofloxacin include the possibility of developing inflamed or ruptured tendons, and patients of any age may develop irritation or swelling around joints. The Achilles tendon is most often affected, but symptoms can occur in the hand, thumb, biceps or shoulder. Patients with arthritis who engage in physical exertion, or who take corticosteroids during the course of treatment are generally at higher risk. The condition can also occur in the elderly and in organ transplant patients.

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Discussion Comments
By candyquilt — On Aug 03, 2013

@burcinc-- I don't know. My doctor did run tests before prescribing me cipro, but the cipro did not work. I was on it for ten days without any improvement and my doctor finally switched me to a different antibiotic. I also had a lot of side effects from it, so I felt worse while on the drug.

I'm not sure why the cipro did not work, maybe I developed resistance to it or maybe the doctor did not do enough tests to find out the exact bacteria and just made an educated guess. But it's a possibility that it might not work.

By burcinc — On Aug 03, 2013

Doctors always have to do tests to find out what bacteria is causing the infection before prescribing antibiotics right? So why would cipro not work for pneumonia?

By serenesurface — On Aug 02, 2013

Ciprofloxacin is effective for pneumonia and I think it should only be used for serious infections like pneumonia because of the possible side effects.

My dad was treated with ciprofloxacin when a severe upper respiratory infection turned into pneumonia last winter. It definitely helped and he recovered soon after this treatment. But he did experience some muscle and tendon weakness afterward, which I've learned is due to the ciprofloxacin.

I don't think it's a good idea to use ciprofloxacin for minor infections because the risks outweigh the benefits. But pneumonia is dangerous and can cause serious complications, so the benefits of ciprofloxacin outweigh the risks when it's used for pneumonia in my opinion.

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