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What Is the Difference between Ciprofloxacin and Amoxicillin?

By David Bishop
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Ciprofloxacin and amoxicillin are different kinds of antibiotic pharmaceuticals primarily used to treat bacterial infections. Amoxicillin is classified as a moderate-spectrum antibiotic and is widely prescribed for the treatment of pneumonia, strep throat and certain sexually transmitted diseases. Ciprofloxacin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that can be effective against a wider range of bacterial types. Both drugs can have serious side effects, so it is important for patients to follow their doctor's instructions and carefully read any information included with their prescription.

Amoxicillin belongs to a family of drugs that function much like penicillin in the body. It is often given to children to treat ear aches, strep throat and other common childhood infections. This family of drugs works best against Gram-positive bacteria and may be prescribed or mixed with another drug to help it fight certain infections. Both ciprofloxacin and amoxicillin can be prescribed to treat anthrax infections, although ciprofloxacin is more commonly offered in the United States after a potential anthrax exposure.

Unlike amoxicillin, ciprofloxacin is classified as a broad-spectrum antibiotic that is effective against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. This drug belongs to a family of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones and is used to treat a variety of bacterial infections, including gastroenteritis, respiratory tract infections and chronic prostatitis. The risk of serious side effects means ciprofloxacin is generally not given to children in the U.S. unless they have been exposed to E. coli and anthrax. Ciprofloxacin is often prescribed in cases in which bacteria have developed a resistance to amoxicillin or other antibiotics.

While ciprofloxacin and amoxicillin can both have serious side effects, ciprofloxacin is generally considered the riskier of the two drugs and has received a black box warning from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because of the increased risk for ruptured tendons and more severe muscle weakness in patients with myasthenia gravis. Amoxicillin is generally considered safe during pregnancy, but ciprofloxacin should be avoided by women during pregnancy and breastfeeding because of the risk of birth defects and other side effects. Both ciprofloxacin and amoxicillin can interact with other drugs, and patients should inform their doctors about any medications they are taking before beginning a regime of either of them.

In general, amoxicillin is used as a first-line antibiotic, either by itself or in combination with other drugs, to treat a wide range of bacterial infections. Ciprofloxacin is prescribed for more serious infections or in cases in which drug-resistant bacteria may be present. A course of ciprofloxacin along with intravenous fluoroquinolones also may be given after a major surgery to help avoid infection.

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Discussion Comments
By anon967811 — On Aug 29, 2014

I took Ciprofloxacin after amoxicillin failed to impact epidydimytis. I had an improvement within 24 hours. I took the course for six weeks and noted a strange side effect which I can't find information on anywhere: I lost my sense of taste!

I believe the nerves to my tongue were damaged and it took about two months after stopping the drug to return my taste sense fully. Needless to say, I was not interested in eating, so I lost about 8kg. I also take atorvastatin and ezetimibe, so it may have been an unrecorded reaction. Who knows? It stumped two doctors.

By anon935269 — On Feb 24, 2014

Amoxicillin = 1972 = First used in USA; Ciprofloxin = 1987 = First used in USA.

By anon355645 — On Nov 18, 2013

If anyone is like me researching tendinitis after Amoxil (not cipro or another fluroquinolone) apparently it is more rare, but I have been suffering acute symptoms for a month after a double does of Amoxil combined with a corticosteroid. Both achilles tendons have sudden onset and are the worst in the mornings. I also had a really bad case of TMJ develop, and I've never experienced either in my life.

By discographer — On Sep 07, 2013

@anamur- I'm not sure when the drugs were developed, but amoxicillin was approved by the FDA in the 70s and ciprofloxacin in the 80s. So amoxicillin has been around a little bit longer.

I've taken both in the past. I had to take amoxicillin when I had a middle ear infection and ciprofloxacin when I had E.coli poisoning. Ciprofloxacin is definitely the stronger drug, I had a lot of side effects from it.

By turquoise — On Sep 07, 2013

@anamur-- Both ciprofloxacin and amoxicillin work by preventing bacteria from multiplying, but they do this in different ways.

Ciprofloxacin does this by preventing the DNA of bacteria from multiplying. Amoxicillin does it by preventing bacteria from forming cell walls which basically leads to their death.

And like the article said, they are effective against different types of bacteria.

By serenesurface — On Sep 06, 2013
Which is the older drug -- ciprofloxacin or amoxicillin?

And do these antibiotics treat infections by killing the bacteria or by preventing the bacteria from multiplying?

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