Cipro for UTI: Uses, Dosage, Side Effects & Alternatives

Written by: Jessica Guht
Jessica Guht
Categorized as UTI
Created on:
Jessica Guht
Categorized as UTI

UTIs are one of the most common infections affecting women and there are many different medications available to treat them. This can make it challenging to understand the differences in these UTI treatments and why a doctor might decide to prescribe one antibiotic over another.

One medication for UTIs is Cipro (ciprofloxacin), a powerful antibiotic that interferes with bacterial functioning, stopping the infection. Cipro can be known for having some side effects, though, which may influence if it is a good treatment option for you.

Table of Contents

What Is Cipro?

Cipro is a brand-name drug for ciprofloxacin, a prescription antibiotic medication used to treat infections caused by bacteria. It is a type of fluoroquinolone antibiotic that kills bacteria by blocking the chemicals they need to repair themselves and reproduce.

Cipro comes in various forms, including tablets or powder (for oral suspensions). There is also an extended-release form of Cipro available in tablet form that is called Cipro XR.

Does Ciprofloxacin Treat UTI?

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) most often result from bacterial infection of the bladder. Since UTIs usually result from a bacteria that ciprofloxacin is effective against, Cipro is FDA-approved to treat UTIs in addition to other bacterial infections, such as those affecting the skin, abdomen, bone, and prostate.

Of note, the Cipro XR extended-release tablets are only FDA-approved for treating UTIs.

What If Cipro Doesn’t Work For UTIs?

If Cipro does not treat your UTI, the first step is to look more closely at the bacteria causing your infection. Most UTIs are caused by the bacteria E. coli, but if Cipro does not work, the cause of your UTI might be a different bacteria that Cipro is not effective against. By ordering a urine culture, your doctor can analyze the bacteria causing the infection, which can help them find the ideal antibiotic for the bacteria causing your UTI.

Another reason why Cipro may not work is in the case of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which require a different type of antibiotic for successful treatment.

Yet another possibility is that your symptoms are not from a UTI at all but instead a different type of condition causing UTI-like symptoms, with some possible conditions including:

  • overactive bladder
  • acute cystitis
  • vaginitis
  • gonorrhea
  • kidney stones
  • bladder cancer
  • chlamydia

What Are the Alternatives to Cipro for UTIs?

Cipro is often used as a second-line treatment for UTIs, meaning a doctor usually prescribes another antibiotic first. These first-line treatments may include:

  • nitrofurantoin
  • trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole
  • fosfomycin

Everything You Need to Know About Cipro for UTIs

From side effects to drug interactions, we have compiled all the important information you need to know for the safe use of Cipro. 

Side Effects

Some of the common side effects of Cipro can include:

  • diarrhea
  • upset stomach
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • rash
  • dizziness

These side effects typically go away within a few days or weeks. If they are more severe, though, or don’t go away, it is recommended to talk with a doctor.

Research has also found that Cipro may cause results from a liver function test to be higher than normal, but this is generally a temporary result and is not indicative of lasting liver damage.

Although less common, Cipro may cause some severe side effects that include:

  • liver damage
  • severe allergic reaction
  • tearing or swelling in a tendon
  • mood changes
  • nerve problems in the legs, arms, hands, or feet
  • tremors, seizure, or convulsions
  • dangerously low blood sugar
  • severe sunburn
  • aortic aneurysm
  • C. difficile infection

Some of these conditions can be life-threatening, so it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention if any of these side effects occur.

Other Warnings

There is a boxed warning for Cipro, which is the strongest warning required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Along with other fluoroquinolone antibiotics, Cipro may cause serious and irreversible side effects, such as:

  • nerve damage
  • ruptured or swollen tendons
  • central nervous system side effects (e.g., confusion, anxiety, tremors)

It is recommended to stop Cipro should any of these side effects occur and immediately speak with your doctor about alternative medications.

Yet another boxed warning with Cipro has to do with its use in those with myasthenia gravis, a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease. If these individuals take Cipro, the medication may cause or worsen muscle weakness, and as such, it is not recommended for those with myasthenia gravis to not take Cipro.

Because of the many potentially severe side effects that can occur to those who take Cipro, the FDA does not recommend it as a first-choice antibiotic for infections. The FDA instead recommends using another medication as the first form of treatment and only using Cipro if the other antibiotic does not clear the UTI.

Drug Interactions

Cipro can interact with certain medications, foods, and supplements. Some of these interactions may affect how well one of the medications works, while others may cause more prevalent side effects.

Some medications that can interact with Cipro include:

  • anticoagulant drugs
  • antacids
  • clozapine
  • drugs prolonging the QT interval
  • methotrexate
  • diabetes drugs
  • ropinirole
  • probenecid
  • sildenafil
  • phenytoin
  • zolpidem
  • theophylline
  • metronidazole
  • tizanidine
  • tinidazole
  • Tylenol

Before beginning Cipro, be sure to inform your doctor if you also take any of these medications.

Certain vitamins and supplements can also bind to Cipro and prevent how well the body absorbs it, then decreasing its effectiveness. These supplements include iron, calcium, zinc, and multivitamins. If you take any of these supplements, take Cipro at least 2 hours beforehand or at least 6 hours after.

Cipro Dosage for UTIs

Cipro dosage varies based on several factors, including your age, the severity of your UTI, other medical conditions you may have, and the form of Cipro you take.

Your doctor’s goal is to place you on the smallest possible dosage that still produces a desired effect, so they often start you on a low dosage and adjust it if needed.

For UTIs, the general dosage for Cipro is 250 to 500 mg every 12 hours for 3 to 14 days.

Those with UTIs may also be prescribed Cipro XR, which has a typical dosage of 500 mg once a day for 3 days. In cases of severe UTIs, this dosage may change to 1,000 mg once a day for 7 to 14 days.

In cases of missing a dose, it is recommended to take the dose when you remember. However, if there are less than 6 hours until your next scheduled dose, skip the dose you missed and take your next dose when you are supposed to. It is important never to try and catch up by taking two doses simultaneously, as this can cause dangerous side effects.

How Can DrHouse Help You?

If you have a UTI and cannot see your doctor in person, let DrHouse help you see an online board-certified doctor from the comfort of your home. In just 15 minutes, you can meet with a doctor, no matter where you are, to discuss your UTI and the treatment options available to you.

Considering the severity of your UTI, past antibiotic resistance, and your health history and current medications, your doctor will determine which antibiotic will be the best option to treat your UTI and write a prescription.

Key Takeaways

Cipro is the brand name for ciprofloxacin, a fluoroquinolone antibiotic responsible for interfering with bacterial growth and repair processes. It can treat a range of bacterial infections, including UTIs.

There are some common side effects of Cipro, in addition to potentially severe (although less common) possible side effects. Cipro also has some boxed warnings, and because of these side effects and warnings, it is often not recommended as a first-line treatment unless someone has a history of frequent UTIs or antibiotic resistance.

If you suspect you have a UTI, you should meet with a doctor to discuss your treatment options. Your doctor will take into consideration your infection severity, medical history, and current medications to determine an ideal antibiotic, which might be Cipro.


Content on the DrHouse website is written by our medical content team and reviewed by qualified MDs, PhDs, NPs, and PharmDs. We follow strict content creation guidelines to ensure accurate medical information. However, this content is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For more information click here.

Always consult with your physician or other qualified health providers about medical concerns. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it based on what you read on this website.

If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

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