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Fluoroquinolones

By

Brian J. Werth

, PharmD, University of Washington School of Pharmacy

Last full review/revision Jul 2020| Content last modified Jul 2020
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Topic Resources

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

Fluoroquinolones include the following:

  • Ciprofloxacin

  • Delafloxacin

  • Gemifloxacin

  • Levofloxacin

  • Moxifloxacin

  • Norfloxacin

  • Ofloxacin

Fluoroquinolones can be taken by mouth, and some can be given intravenously or as eye drops.

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

Table
icon

Fluoroquinolones

Drug

Common Uses

Some Side Effects

Ciprofloxacin

Delafloxacin

Gatifloxacin (eye infections only)

Gemifloxacin

Levofloxacin

Moxifloxacin

Norfloxacin

Ofloxacin

Bacterial infection of the prostate (prostatitis)

Diarrhea due to certain bacteria

Gastrointestinal upset and diarrhea*

Nausea

Nervousness, tremors, and seizures

Inflammation or rupture of tendons

Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias)

Skin problems triggered by sunlight (photosensitivity reactions)

* Almost any antibiotic can cause Clostridioides 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 a long QT interval or a very slow heart rate, who take drugs that cause a long QT interval or a very slow heart rate, or who have a low blood level of potassium or a low blood level of magnesium).

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. (See also Drug Use During Pregnancy.)

Use of fluoroquinolones during breastfeeding is not recommended. (See also Drug Use During Breastfeeding.)

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
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