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Crohn's Disease Health Center

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Antibiotics for Crohn's Disease

Examples

Generic NameBrand Name
ciprofloxacinCipro
metronidazoleFlagyl
rifaximinXifaxan

How It Works

Antibiotics kill bacteria, which may help control infection and inflammation in the intestines.

Why It Is Used

These medicines may be used to:

  • Treat infections that develop because of Crohn's disease, especially when abscesses, abnormal connections (fistulas) between two parts of the intestines, or holes in the intestines or anal area occur.
  • Treat active Crohn's disease.

How Well It Works

Antibiotics are used often to treat Crohn's disease. There is no good evidence that they work to control the disease. Antibiotics do help stop infections and heal abscesses and fistulas that happen because of Crohn's disease.1

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

  • Usually the benefits of the medicine are more important than any minor side effects.
  • Side effects may go away after you take the medicine for a while.
  • If side effects still bother you and you wonder if you should keep taking the medicine, call your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change your medicine. Do not suddenly quit taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

Ciprofloxacin

Call your doctor right away if you have:

Metronidazole

Call your doctor right away if you have:

  • Hives.
  • Numbness, tingling, pain, or weakness in your hands or feet.

Common side effects of antibiotics include:

Rifaximin has few side effects.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Antacids containing magnesium or aluminum and iron or zinc supplements should be taken at least 6 hours before or 2 hours after taking ciprofloxacin.

Ciprofloxacin can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.

  • Stay out of the sun, if possible.
  • Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and hats, if possible.
  • Use sunscreen with an SPF that your doctor recommends.

Completely avoid alcohol use (including nonprescription nighttime cold medicines, such as NyQuil) when you are taking metronidazole. Combining alcohol with this medicine may cause severe nausea and vomiting.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

Ciprofloxacin

Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant. If you need to use this medicine, talk to your doctor about how you can prevent pregnancy.

Metronidazole and rifaximin

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.

Checkups

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

Citations

  1. Lichtenstein GR, et al. (2009). Management of Crohn's disease in adults. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 104(2): 465–483.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerArvydas D. Vanagunas, MD - Gastroenterology
Last RevisedOctober 8, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 08, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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