What is Metronidazole?
Metronidazole also sold under the brand name Flagyl and Metrogyle is a potent antibiotic that is used especially for treating bacterial infections of vagina, stomach, skin, joints and respiratory tract. It is part of a family of antibiotics called nitroimidazoles and treats infection by stopping the growth of bacteria and protozoa. It doesn't treat viral infections and hence should not be used for common cold, flu etc as well as vaginal yeast infection.
Important details about Metronidazole:
Metronidazole is an antibiotic and hence the complete dosage should be taken as prescribed by your Doctor. Do not at any cost; stop taking the medicine midway or skipping doses in between even if the symptoms of your infection have subsided. Stopping the medication midway or skipping doses can prove dangerous as there can be a relapse of your infection which can be fatally drug resistant to a line of antibiotic medicines. Avoid alcohol consumption strictly if you are on a metronidazole course and continue to avoid it for three days after you complete the full dosage as prescribed. Going on a metronidazole course may show some unpleasant side effects such as fast heartbeats, heat or rashes under your skin, tingling, nausea and vomiting. Detailed side effects are discussed further in this description.
You may also need to take regular blood and liver function tests while you are on metronidazole treatment to be sure that it is not causing any harmful effects which may need regular doctor visits. Store metronizadole in a cool and dry place away from heat and moisture.
Before commencing Metronidazole course:
Metronidazole should not be taken if you are allergic to it or if you are in the first trimester of your pregnancy. Don't forget to notify your doctor about your pregnancy or if you are planning a child during the treatment. Before starting a metronidazole course, do mention about your allergies to any drugs or these conditions to your doctor or physician: liver disease, a stomach or intestinal condition such as Crohn's disease, a blood disorder like anemia (deficiency of red blood cells) or leucopenia (deficiency of white blood cells), epilepsy or other seizure condition; or nerve disorders.
If you exhibit any of the above conditions, you may need the precise amount of dosage or have to undergo some special tests to find if you can safely take this medicine on top of those conditions. metronidazole can easily pass into breast milk and may harm your baby if you are breast feeding. Tell your doctor about this without fail and don't consume this medicine without his or her advice.
Ways to take Metronidazole:
You should take metronidazole dose exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Don't alter the amounts in any way or take it even after the prescription period. For detailed information, follow the directions on your prescription label. Consume the extended release metronidazole tablet (Flagyl ER) on an empty stomach, minimum 1 hour before or 2 hours after eating a meal. Avoid crushing, chewing or breaking an ER tablet. Ingest it whole as breaking the tablet may result in a more than required amount of drug to be released at one go. Stopping the medication before the complete course is over or skipping any doses if your symptoms seem to go away can be lethal and lead to a drug resistant form of your infection which can be very hard to treat.
I missed a dose. What next?
Don't miss any antibiotic dose as much as possible but if you do happen to miss a dose due to unforeseen reasons, take it as soon as you remember. It is fine to skip the missed does if it is time already for the next dose. Don't consume extra medications to make up for the missed dose as there needs to be an appropriate amount of metronidazole in your body at a given time.
What to do if I overdose?
Overdose of any medication can be very dangerous and damaging to your body and its vital parts. In case of overdose, get emergency medical help or call the Poison Help line. Symptoms of overdose may be nausea, vomiting, dizziness, loss of body equilibrium like improper balance and co-ordination, lost of senses, tingling, or spasms (seizures).
Avoid these things while taking Metronidazole:
Don't consume alcohol in any forms while taking metronidazole and three days following the completion of its scheduled course. Avoid any food items which have alcohol in them (read labels carefully). Antibiotic medication can lead to diarrhea; a sign of another infection. If you witness bloody or watery diarrhea, immediately stop taking metronidazole and consult your doctor. Take diarrhea medicine only if your doctor tells you to do so.
Metronidazole Side Effects:
Many people taking metronidazole don't show any side effects but it may not be the case with you.
Seek instant medical help or emergency if necessary when you witness any signs of allergic reaction to metronidazole. Prominent reactions are hives, breathing difficulty, swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Let your doctor know immediately if you have the following rare but serious side effects: Hands or feet showing signs of numbness and tingling, white area or sores in your mouth or on your lips, pain or burning while urinating, watery and bloody diarrhea, pain or burning sensation in your eyes, strained speech, convulsions, mood changes, tremors, muscle twitching, fever, chills, confusion, headache, stiff neck, throat soreness, elevated light sensitivity, lethargy, nausea and vomiting, harsh skin conditions like red or purple colored rash that can advance to face or upper body and cause boils and peeling.
Other less serious side effects may be summarized as: stomach pain, diarrhea, dizziness, loss of balance, vaginal itching and discharge, dryness in mouth or unsavory and hard metallic taste, cough, sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, soreness and swelling in tongue.
The above list of side effects is non exhaustive and you may experience other effects as well. Consult your doctor for advice on side effects. You may also want to report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Metronidazole Dosing Information
Metronidazole dosage depends on the conditions you are suffering from and its amount will be decided by your doctor. Take the amount exactly as prescribed, don't undershoot or overshoot the prescribed amount.
Interaction with Other Drugs
Metronidazole may interfere with other medications or vice versa and you must notify your doctor if you are taking any medicines (prescribed, OTC vitamin pills or herbal products)already. Especially cimetidine (Tagamet), phenytoin (Dilantin), phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton), warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven), lithium (Lithobid, Eskalith, others), or disulfiram (Antabuse). Again, this list is non exhaustive and many other drugs may interfere with metronidazole. Never take a new medicine without consulting a doctor.