Flagyl is one among the frequently used antibiotics used for treating gastrointestinal infections, parasitic infections and sexually transmitted infections. The popularity of the nitroimidazole antibiotic s attributed to the antiparasitic properties that make this different from the typical antibacterial drugs. By virtue of this property, and the mechanism of action, the antibiotic s used for treating a wide range of infections. Available as capsules, tablets, as a topical application, and as a suppository, the antibiotic and antiprotozoal has been in use for more than six decades. All medications are known to have side effects and drug indications, and this is no exception. Here is a detailed look at the side effects of flagyl, and tips to prevent aggravation.
Overview and side effects of flagyl
Before we take a look at the side effects of flagyl it is necessary to understand more about the antibiotic and its mechanism of action. This will help to learn about the reasons and the best methods to prevent side effects. In addition to the use cases mentioned above, flagyl is used for the treatment of trichomonas vaginalis, bacterial vaginosis, amebiasis, and anaerobic infections. These infections are primarily infections on the skin, abdomen, heart, respiratory system and reproductive organs.
Mechanism of action and side effects of flagyl
While the precise mechanism of action of flagyl has not been fully studied, the main action is expected to arise out of the binding of deoxyribonucleic acid and the electron-transport proteins. Asa result of this, nucleic acid synthesis is blocked. Upon being administered, the drug makes its entry into cells through passive diffusion. The sequence of action includes the nitro group reduction, which results in the formation of metabolites that are toxic in nature. These are responsible for selectively damaging DNA of the organisms that replicate, thereby eliminating the infections.
Different forms of flagyl and dosage
The medication, available either as branded formulations or in generic form come as either immediate release or extended-release types. Depending on the type of release formula, the dosage needs to be adjusted.
Typical adult dosage for bacterial infections – maximum dosage of 4 g per day. Ideally, adults are recommended 500 mg doses taken four times a day for a period of one week or slightly more, depending on the condition.
Typical dosage for women with bacterial vaginosis – 750 mg extended-release formulations for a period of one week or more depending on the condition.
The medication comes with a black box warning from the FDA, which means that it could cause adverse effects in the body. It is therefore necessary to take the warnings seriously.
Can flagyl be taken with alcohol?
One of the most important side effects of flagyl that need to be borne in mind is the effect of the medication when taken alongside alcohol. Serious side effects are reported when individuals take alcohol and flagyl. Specialists advise patients to completely avoid alcohol when on the medication. Patients are advised to avoid drinking for a period of 3 full days after taking the last dose of the medication to avoid any potential adverse effects. The effects are not limited to oral formulations of the antibiotic, but extend to all the different forms of the medication including topical applications.
Commonly reported side effects of flagyl
Different types of side effects of flagyl are typically reported – common side effects, infrequent side effects and rare side effects. Here is a look at the commonly reported side effects of flagyl. For instance, individuals are likely to experience headache when on the medication. While the antibiotic is not known to cause any drowsy feelings, the patient may experience other effects include a sudden loss of appetite. Additionally, individuals could also end up with feelings of nausea or vomiting when on the medication. Constipation is another possible side effect that could be frequently experienced by patients. A distinct metallic taste is another likely feeling that could be experienced by a patient when on the medication. Apart from the above, the commonly reported effects include heartburn and a cramping feeling or a tightening sensation in the stomach. This may or may not be accompanied by bouts of diarrhea. While most of the ese effects are mild in nature and will resolve naturally without the need for any medical attention, it is necessary to seek medical attention if they are persistent or intense in nature.
Side effects of flagyl that are considered as serious in nature
It is time to look at the side effects of flagyl that are serious in nature. These side effects are not frequently occurring, but may require urgent attention. For instance, some of the side effects could be life threatening in nature and require care at a medical facility. This includes, seizures, or adverse effects on the nervous system. Abnormal brain functions categorised as encephalopathy are also a possible outcome of the medication. Patients may report convulsions when on the medication. This is characterized by a distinct tightening of the muscles which result in abrupt movements that are clearly visible. The patient is also likely to experience dizzy feelings or experience an abnormal headache.
These symptoms may not be attributed to other known conditions but could be directly a result of the medication. Individuals have reported feeling confused for not particular reason, in addition to losing some control over routine body movements. Known in medical terms as ataxia, the condition is a rare side effect of the antibiotic. Side effects of flagyl are common to men and women with no change in the manner it impacts either gender. However, in the case of women, an additional category of side effects is known to manifest – women are at risk of contracting yeast infections, in addition to the possibility of a vaginal discharge and irritation.
Categories of individuals who need to exercise caution or avoid the medication
To avoid possible side effects of flagyl it is necessary for certain categories of individuals to either exercise caution or avoid taking the antibiotic. For instance, individuals with existing liver conditions are typically administered lower doses of the medication. This is because patients with impaired liver functions will experience slower processing of the antibiotic. Consequently, the level of the antibiotic could be higher in the body and individuals are therefore advised to take lower doses or take the medication less frequently. Similarly, individuals with impaired renal functions are also at risk of experiencing less than desired clearance of the drug. As a result, the levels of the medication are likely to be higher and this could expose the individual to higher levels of risk. Patients are therefore advised to take lower dosages or take the medication less frequently.
Women who are pregnant are advised to exercise extreme caution when taking the medication. This is because the antibiotic has not been studied adequately to determine the side effects on pregnant women. As a category B drug, the side effects have been studied in pregnant laboratory animals. However, the actual side effects of flagyl on pregnant women have not been studied. Women in the first trimester of pregnancy are not to take the medication. IN the case of women in other stages of pregnancy, the medication has to be taken only if it has been specifically prescribed by a medical practitioner. Similarly, women who are nursing infants are to void the medication as it is likely to pass into breast milk. This may result in potential side effects in children on breastmilk.
Aged individuals are at higher risk of experiencing stronger side effects of the antibiotic. This mainly because of the possible impaired function of the livers and kidneys attributed to advancing age. It is therefore necessary to take recommended dosage accordingly. As the antibiotic is available as an OTC formulation in different forms, the possibility of it being freely used without prescriptions make it necessary to exercise complete caution in these cases.
Drug interactions of flagyl
The antibiotic is known to interact with other medications, and this may result in side effects of flagyl. This could be other prescription medications, OTC formulations, supplements, or herbal products taken by individuals. For instance, disulfiram is known to cause adverse side effects in the body. This includes psychotic reactions that are typically characterized by hallucinations, or delusions or confused feelings in individuals. A clear gap between the two medications is to be maintained for a period of two weeks. The drug interactions include the possibility of aggravating the side effects of flagyl. For instance, an increase in lithium levels is possible when patients take the antibiotic along with certain medications. This makes it necessary for a monitoring of the lithium levels in the body.
Individuals on blood thinners are also at risk of experiencing bleeding when on the antibiotic. Since blood thinners are typically taken lifelong, it is necessary to exercise greater caution. Flagyl is known to increase the levels of busulfan in the body when taken together. It is therefore recommended to avoid taking the medications together. Similarly, patients on flagyl who also take cimetidine together may end up with higher levels of the antibiotic in the body, and consequently, are at risk of experiencing more side effects. Patients on phenobarbital or phenytoin may also experience certain side effects. The combination results in a reduction in the levels of the antibiotic and consequently, the effectiveness of flagyl could be compromised. This makes it necessary to avoid taking the combination.
Best practices and tips that need to be followed when taking the medication
To avoid side effects of flagyl the following best practices and tips will help. It is essential to understand the different dosages and take the medication depending on the form, the actual strength of the medication and the frequency that is recommended for age groups and conditions. The severity of the condition and pre-existing conditions are to be considered fully by patients, before taking the medication. This should also be considered in the context of the drug interactions and the functioning of the liver and kidneys. For instance, certain medications not mentioned above, could result in impaired functions of the kidney and liver. In such instances, it is necessary to adjust dosage accordingly. Similarly, individuals are expected to observe possible side effects after the first dosage and taken precautions accordingly.