What Is Metronidazole?
Metronidazole is an antibiotic and antiprotozoal medication, also sold under the brand name Flagyl. It is a prescription-only medication that is available in oral tablet form (both immediate-release and extended-release forms are on the market), suppository form, and as a skin preparation. An infusion is also available. It is included on the World Health Organization's list of essential medicines, and is considered to be among the most important medications a healthcare system needs to function.
Metronidazole is, on its own or in combination with other medications, used to treat a wide variety of infections, both on-label and off label. These include but are not limited to:
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Pelvic inflammatory disase
- Helicobacter Pylori
- Nongonococcal Urethritis
Metronidazole is also often offered as a preventative prescription following sexual assault.
Metronidazole Side Effects
Common and mostly non-dangerous side effects of the medication Metronidazole include headache, nausea, diarrhea or constipation, heartburn, a metallic taste in the mouth, and abdominal cramping.
Should these side effects be mild and tolerable, there is no need to alert your doctor. Severe diarrhea that continues for longer than two days should be reported, as should any side effect severe enough to cause you serious concern.
Serious side effects of Metronidazole, which warrant immediate medical attention even in the form of visiting the emergency department or calling an ambulance, can also occur. They are:
- Severe headache
- Confusion and disorientation
In addition to these side effects, it is also possible to be allergic to Metronidazole. Symptoms include urticaria, breathing difficulties, fever and chills, a red skin rash, and peeling skin. Anyone experiencing these symptoms of Metronidazole allergy should contact their prescribing doctor, or call emergency medical services, right away.
Is There Anyone Who Can't Take Metronidazole?
People suffering from liver disease and kidney disease are at an increased risk of side effects when taking Metronidazole, but can still use Metronidazole, often on an altered schedule, as prescribed by their healthcare providers. As senior citizens often have decreased kidney function, this applies to them, as well.
Metronidazole should not be taken during the first trimester of pregnancy due to a lack of evidence that it is safe during this time, while pregnant women in their second and third trimesters of pregnancy and breastfeeding mothers should discuss the benefits and risks of taking Metronidazole with their doctors carefully before deciding to take this medication.
What Else Do You Need To Know About Metronidazole?
As with any antibiotic, it is crucial to take Metronidazole exactly as directed by your doctor, and to complete the entire course even if the symptoms of the condition you are being treated for have improved.
Anybody who was prescribed Metronidazole should also know that the medication interacts badly with alcohol. You may be advised to stop drinking alcohol three days prior to commencing your treatment and to abstain from alcohol for two days following the completion of your course.
Drinking alcohol while using Metronidazole greatly increases the risk of experiencing the side effects mentioned above.
Patients using any other medications should always let their doctor know, as some medications interact with this treatment. Products containing propylene glycol, such as vape liquids, may also interact adversely with Metronidazole and should be avoided.
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