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Fluoroquinolones -ˈkwin-ə-ˌlōn

By Hans P. Schlecht, MD, MSc, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine ; Christopher Bruno, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of infectious Diseases & HIV Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine

Fluoroquinolones are a class of antibiotics that are used to treat a variety of infections.

Fluoroquinolones include the following:

  • Ciprofloxacin

  • Gemifloxacin

  • Levofloxacin

  • Moxifloxacin

  • Norfloxacin

  • Ofloxacin

Fluoroquinolones can be taken by mouth, and some can be given intravenously.

Fluoroquinolones work by interfering with DNA inside bacteria, resulting in death of the bacteria.

Fluoroquinolones

Drug

Common Uses

Some Side Effects

Ciprofloxacin

Gemifloxacin

Levofloxacin

Moxifloxacin

Norfloxacin

Ofloxacin

Bacterial infection of the prostate (prostatitis)

Diarrhea due to certain bacteria

Gastrointestinal upset and diarrhea*

Nausea (rare)

Nervousness, tremors, and seizures

Inflammation or rupture of tendons

Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias)

*Almost any antibiotic can cause Clostridium difficile–induced diarrhea and inflammation of the colon (colitis), but clindamycin, penicillins, cephalosporins, and fluoroquinolones are the most common causes.

Doctors avoid using fluoroquinolones in people who are more likely to develop a serious abnormal heart rhythm (such as people who have prolonged QT interval or a very slow heart rate, who take drugs that cause a prolonged QT interval or a very slow heart rate, or who have a low blood potassium or magnesium level).

Use of Fluoroquinolones During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Use of fluoroquinolones during pregnancy is not recommended, but sometimes the benefits of treatment may outweigh the risks.

Use of fluoroquinolones during breastfeeding is not recommended.

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