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- What is metronidazole (Flagyl, Flagyl ER), and how does it work?
- Why is metronidazole prescribed to patients?
- What are the side effects of metronidazole?
- What is the dosage for metronidazole, and how do I take it?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with this medication?
- Is this drug safe to use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about Flagyl (metronidazole)?
What is metronidazole (Flagyl, Flagyl ER), and how does it work?
Flagyl is an antibiotic effective against anaerobic bacteria and certain parasites. Anaerobic bacteria are single-celled, living organisms that thrive in environments in which there is little oxygen (anaerobic environments). Anaerobic bacteria can cause disease in the abdomen (bacterial peritonitis), liver (liver abscess), and pelvis (abscess of the ovaries and the Fallopian tubes). Giardia lamblia and ameba are intestinal parasites that can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea in infected individuals. Trichomonas is a vaginal parasite that causes inflammation of the vagina (vaginitis). Metronidazole selectively blocks some of the functions within the bacterial cells and the parasites resulting in their death.
What brand names are available for metronidazole?
- Flagyl and Flagyl ER are the available brand names for metronidazole in the US.
- Metro IV, Metromidol, Protostat, and Satric are brands names for metronidazole that have been discontinued in the US.
Is this drug available as a generic?
Do I need a prescription for this drug?
Why is metronidazole prescribed to patients?
- Flagyl is used to treat parasitic infections including Giardia infections of the small intestine, amebic liver abscess, and amebic dysentery (infection of the colon causing bloody diarrhea), bacterial vaginosis, trichomonas vaginal infections, and carriers of trichomonas (both sexual partners) who do not have symptoms of infection.
- Flagyl is also used alone or in combination with other antibiotics in treating abscesses in the liver, pelvis, abdomen, and brain caused by susceptible anaerobic bacteria.
- Flagyl is also used in treating infection of the colon caused by a bacterium called C. difficile. Many commonly-used antibiotics can alter the type of bacteria that inhabit the colon. C. difficile is an anaerobic bacterium that can infect the colon when the normal types of bacteria in the colon are inhibited by common antibiotics. This leads to inflammation of the colon (pseudomembranous colitis) with severe diarrhea and abdominal pain.)
- Flagyl also is used in combination with other drugs to treat Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) that causes stomach or intestinal ulcers.
- Flagyl topical gel is used for treating acne rosacea.
- Flagyl vaginal gel is used for treating bacterial vaginosis.
What are the side effects of metronidazole?
Flagyl is a useful antibiotic and is generally well tolerated with appropriate use.
The most common and minor side effects include:
- Loss of appetite
- A metallic taste
- Rarely a rash
- Abdominal cramps
- Dry mouth
- Dark-colored urine
- Metallic taste in mouth
- Weight loss (anorexia)
- Furry tongue
- Nasal congestion
- Vaginal dryness
Side effects that are uncomfortable, but may become serious include:
- Brain disease
- Mouth sores
- Pain with urination
- Prickling or tingling sensations that may become permanent
- Pelvic pain or pressure
- Decrease of libido
Serious side effects of Flagyl are rare and the drug should be stopped if these symptoms appear:
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What is the dosage for metronidazole, and how do I take it?
- Metronidazole may be taken orally with or without food.
- In the hospital, metronidazole can be administered intravenously to treat serious infections.
- The liver is primarily responsible for eliminating metronidazole from the body, and doses may need to be reduced in patients with liver disease and abnormal liver function.
Various metronidazole regimens are used. Some examples are listed below.
- Amebic dysentery: 750 mg orally 3 times daily for 5-10 days
- Amebic liver abscess: 500-750 mg orally three times daily for 5-10 days
- Anaerobic infections: 7.5 mg/kg orally or by injection every 6 hours for 7 to 10 days not to exceed 4 grams daily.
- Bacterial vaginosis: 750 mg (extended release tablets) once daily for 7 days or 500 mg twice daily for 7 days or 2 g single dose or one applicator-full of 0.75% vaginal gel, once or twice daily for 5 days.
- Clostridium difficile infection: 250-500 mg orally 4 times daily or 500-750 orally 3 times daily
- Giardia: 250 mg orally three times daily for 5 days Helicobacter pylori: 800-1500 mg orally daily for several days in combination with other drugs.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID): 500 mg orally twice daily for 14 days in combination with other drugs.
- Trichomoniasis: 2 g single dose or 1 g twice
- Rosacea: apply topical gel 0.75-1% once daily
Which drugs or supplements interact with this medication?
- Alcohol should be avoided because metronidazole and alcohol together can cause severe nausea, vomiting, cramps, flushing, and headache.
- Metronidazole can increase the blood thinning effects of warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) and increase the risk of bleeding probably by reducing the breakdown of warfarin.
- Cimetidine (Tagamet) increases blood levels of metronidazole while cholestyramine (Questran, Questran Light) reduces blood levels of metronidazole by reducing its absorption.
- Metronidazole should not be combined with amprenavir (Agenerase) for treating human immunodeficiency disease (infection with HIV) because amprenavir contains propylene glycol.
- Metronidazole blocks the breakdown of propylene glycol in the liver leading to accumulation of propylene glycol in blood. Accumulation of propylene glycol could cause seizures, increased heart rate, and lead to kidney failure.
- Metronidazole increases the blood levels of carbamazepine (Tegretol, Tegretol XR, Equetro, Carbatrol), lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid) and cyclosporine though unknown mechanisms. Serious reactions may occur if these drugs are taken with metronidazole.
Is this drug safe to use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?
What else should I know about Flagyl (metronidazole)?
What preparations of Flagyl (metronidazole) are available?
- Tablets: 250 and 500 mg.
- Tablets, extended release: 750 mg.
- Capsule: 375 mg.
- Cream: 0.75% and 1%.
- Lotion: 0.75%.
- Gel: 0.75% and 1%.
- Injection: 5 mg/ml
How should I keep Flagyl (metronidazole) stored?
- Metronidazole should be stored at room temperature and protected from light.
When was metronidazole approved by the FDA?
- The FDA approved metronidazole tablets in July 1963.
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Metronidazole (Flagyl, Flagyl ER) is a prescription antibiotic medication prescribed for the treatment of a variety of parasitic and bacterial infections of the vagina, gynecological area, skin, intra-abdominal cavity, blood, bone, joint, nervous system, and heart. For example, giardia, bacterial vaginosis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), C. difficile, H. pylori, STDs (trichomonas), acne rosacea, peritonitis, endometriosis, endomyometritis, tubo-ovarian abscess, bacterial septicemia, meningitis, brain abscess, pneumonia, lung abscess, and endocarditis.
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Related Disease Conditions
Rosacea is a skin disease that causes redness of the forehead, chin, and lower half of the nose. In addition to inflammation of the facial skin, symptoms include dilation of the blood vessels and pimples (acne rosacea) in the middle third of the face. Oral and topical antibiotics are treatments for rosacea. If left untreated, rhinophyma (a disfiguring nose condition) may result.
Jock itch is an itchy red rash that appears in the groin area. The rash may be caused by a bacterial or fungal infection. People with diabetes and those who are obese are more susceptible to developing jock itch. Antifungal shampoos, creams, and pills may be needed to treat fungal jock itch. Bacterial jock itch may be treated with antibacterial soaps and topical and oral antibiotics.
Folliculitis is a skin condition that causes small red bumps to form around the hair follicles. Skin bacteria such as Staphylococcus and Pseudomonas may infect the follicles. Treatment involves over-the-counter bacterial washes, topical antibiotics, and/or topical steroids.
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
Bacterial vaginosis is an abnormal vaginal condition with signs and symptoms of vaginal discharge, vaginal odor, and vaginal pain. It results from an overgrowth of normal bacteria in the vagina.
Amebiasis (Entamoeba Histolytica Infection)
Amebiasis is an infection caused by an amoeba. Signs and symptoms include bloody stools, abdominal pain, weight loss, fever, and gas. Treatment may involve taking luminal agents or antibiotics. Surgery may be indicated for various reasons.
H. pylori (Helicobacter Pylori) Infection
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) is a bacteria that causes chronic inflammation (gastritis) of the inner lining of the stomach, and also is the most common cause of ulcers worldwide. About 50% of people in the world carries or is infected with H. pylori. Common symptoms of H. pylori infection are occasional abdominal discomfort, bloating, belching or burping, and nausea and vomiting. H. pylori infection is difficult to eradicate, and treatment is with two or more antibiotics.
Most people with diverticulosis have few if any symptoms at all. When people do experience signs and symptoms of diverticulosis (diverticular disease) they may include abdominal pain, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating. Diverticulitis is a condition in which diverticula in the colon rupture. The rupture results in infection in the tissues that surround the colon. Treatment methods for diverticulitis include prescription medications, and in some cases, diverticulitis surgery.
Acne is a localized skin inflammation as a result of overactivity of oil glands at the base of hair follicles. This inflammation, depending on its location, can take the form of a superficial pustule (contains pus), a pimple, a deeper cyst, congested pores, whiteheads, or blackheads. Treatments vary depending on the severity of the acne.
Peptic Ulcer (Stomach Ulcer)
Peptic or stomach ulcers are ulcers in the lining of the stomach, duodenum, or esophagus. Learn about symptoms, causes, diet, and treatment.
Vaginitis (Inflammation of the Vagina)
Vaginitis refers to inflammation of the vagina. Vaginitis can be caused by infections, menopause, or poor hygiene. Symptoms of vaginitis include vaginal itching, discharge, odor, pain, or discomfort. Treatment for vaginitis depends on the cause. Antibiotics may be necessary for some forms of vaginitis.
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Peripheral neuropathy is a problem with the functioning of the nerves outside of the spinal cord. Symptoms may include numbness, weakness, burning pain (especially at night), and loss of reflexes. Possible causes may include carpel tunnel syndrome, shingles, vitamin or nutritional deficiencies, and illnesses like diabetes, syphilis, AIDS, and kidney failure. Peripheral neuropathy is diagnosed with exams and tests. Treatment for the condition depends on the cause. Usually, the prognosis for peripheral neuropathy is good if the cause can be successfully treated or prevented.
Giardiasis (Giardia lamblia) is a parasite responsible for a common form of infectious diarrhea. The parasite lives in two stages: trophozoites and cysts. People at risk for giardiasis are those that live in areas where there is inadequate sanitation or treatment of drinking water. Giardiasis also is a common cause of outbreaks of diarrhea in day-care centers. Symptoms and signs of giardiasis include abdominal pain, stomach cramping, bloating, nausea, and fatigue. Treatment for giardiasis is with antibiotic medication.
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SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) refers to a condition in which abnormally large numbers of bacteria (at least 100,000 bacteria per ml of fluid) are present in the small intestine, but they are more like the bacteria that are found in the colon. There are many conditions associated with SIBO, including: Diabetes Scleroderma Crohn's disease Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) It has been theorized that SIBO may be responsible for the symptoms of at least some patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Symptoms of SIBO include: Excess gas Abdominal bloating Abdominal pain Treatment for SIBO can include: Antibiotics Probiotics Low FODMAP Diet
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
The inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). The intestinal complications of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis differ because of the characteristically dissimilar behaviors of the intestinal inflammation in these two diseases.
Is C. diff (Clostridium difficile) Contagious?
C. diff, or Clostridium difficile, is a bacteria that infects the colon. C. diff bacteria can be found on furniture, bathroom floors, telephones, fingernails, jewelry, toilet seats, and other places. Symptoms of C. diff infection are fever, abdominal pain, and cramps; however, not all people infected with C. diff have symptoms. Treatments for C. diff are antibiotics and surgery in some cases.
Neck Pain and Dizziness
Neck pain is any degree of discomfort in the front or back of the neck between the head and the shoulders. Dizziness is characterized as either vertigo with disequilibrium or lightheadedness associated with feeling faint or the potential to lose consciousness. Causes of neck pain and dizziness vary, and treatment depends on the cause. With any unexplained or persisting neck pain or dizziness, consult with a health care professional, who can determine whether the symptoms are harmless and temporary or serious and threatening.
Is H. pylori Contagious?
H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori) infection: Is it contagious? H. pylori infection is caused by fecal contamination in either food or water, and by poor hygiene practices such as not washing the hands often. Common symptoms of H. pylori are a discomfort or pain in the area of the stomach. Some individuals describe the pain as gnawing or burning. Treatment of H. pylori infection is antibiotic therapy.
What Is Crohn's Disease?
Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory disease, primarily involving the small and large intestine, but which can affect other parts of the digestive system as well. Abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and weight loss are common symptoms.
Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease of the connective tissue. It is characterized by the formation of scar tissue (fibrosis) in the skin and organs of the body, leading to thickness and firmness of involved areas. Scleroderma is also referred to as systemic sclerosis, and the cause is unknown. Treatment of scleroderma is directed toward the individual features that are most troubling to the patient.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS or SEID)
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) is a debilitating and complex disorder characterized by profound fatigue that lasts 6 months or longer, is not improved by bed rest, and may be worsened by physical or mental activity.
Clostridium Difficile Colitis (C. diff, C. difficle Colitis)
Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) is a bacterium, and is one of the most common causes of infection of the colon. C. difficile spores are found frequently in hospitals, nursing homes, extended care facilities, and nurseries for newborn infants.
Is Diverticulitis Contagious?
Diverticulitis is an inflammation of the diverticula or diverticulum. Diverticulitis causes are either infectious or noninfectious, however, it is not contagoius. Symptoms of diverticulitis include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gas, constipation, changes in bowel habits, bloating, constipation, fever, abdominal tenderness, swollen abdomen, fistula formation, and lower left abdominal pain.
Yeast Infection vs. Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
Yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis (BV) both cause vaginal discharge. Yeast infection discharge is thick, white, and had a cottage cheese consistency. BV discharge is whitish-gray and is thinner. Vaginal odor, irritation, and pain may also be present. Treatment of yeast infections includes over-the-counter and prescription antifungals. BV treatment involves antibiotics.
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Penile Discharge
- Vaginal Discharge
- Abscessed Tooth
- Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) Infection
- Giardiasis (Giardia Lamblia Infection)
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
- Crohn's Disease
- Pelvic Pain
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- C. difficile Colitis
- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
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