Sparfloxacin (Oral)

Sparfloxacin is an antibiotic medicine that is used to destroy bacteria or its growth. Taken orally, in the form of tablets, it is mostly used in the treatment of bacterial respiratory tract infections including bronchitis and pneumonia.

Overview

Sparfloxacin is classified as a fluoroquinolone antibiotic medicine. Put simply, fluoroquinolone antibiotics are mostly used to treat a range of infections that are common to the respiratory and urinary tract. When used as directed by your doctor, sparfloxacin can effectively treat bacterial lung infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

Otherwise known by its brand name, Zagam, sparfloxacin is available in the dosage form of tablets and must be taken orally. It works by inhibiting DNA gyrase, which is known as a bacterial topoisomerase. Bacterial topoisomerases can interfere with the overwinding and underwinding, repair and deactivation of DNA, resulting in infections and illnesses. The antibacterial activity of sparfloxacin destroys DNA gyrase and stops it from growing.

Bronchitis and pneumonia are respiratory tract infections that can be difficult to tell apart for many. Symptoms of both may include coughing and coughing up lots of mucus, chest congestion, wheezing when breathing, shortness of breath and common cold or flu symptoms like a fever, body aches and chills. Bronchitis, and in particular acute bronchitis, is caused when the bronchial tubes (these carry the air to our lungs) become infected and swollen, often filling with mucus. Pneumonia can be more serious than bronchitis, especially for children, the elderly or those with weak immune systems. Pneumonia occurs when the air sacs in your lungs (alveoli) swell and fill with fluid or pus, similar to the bronchial tubes filling with fluid in bronchitis. Both lung infections should be treated immediately upon diagnosis, and will often disappear following a successful course of fluoroquinolone antibiotics. If you believe that your symptoms may indicate a respiratory tract infection, it is important that you see a doctor right away.

Antibiotics are commonly misused, and they must only be taken when prescribed and directed by a doctor. Many patients will feel tempted to discontinue their antibiotic treatment as soon as they feel better, but it is vital that they take the entire course of prescribed antibiotics. By not taking a full course of antibiotics, there is the potential for the target bacteria to recover and render particular antibiotics ineffective.

Conditions treated

  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchitis

Type of medicine

  • Fluoroquinolone antibiotic

Side effects

The most common side effects of taking sparfloxacin tend to be mild reactions to the skin. In most cases, this will include blisters, itching, redness, the sensation of burning on the skin, a rash and swelling. For many patients, these side effects will disappear once the body has become adjusted to the medicine and may not require medical treatment. However, if you find that these reactions are persistent or cause concern, make sure to discuss them with your doctor. They may be able to provide medical relief or advice as to how to manage these symptoms.

Less common side effects that may be bothersome but not need medical attention include a change in the sense of taste, diarrhea, dizzy spells, drowsiness, headache, feeling light-headed, sickness, insomnia and vaginal itching and discharge. As with all side effects, contact your doctor if you become worried about them.

In rare cases, you may experience an irregular heartbeat, acute psychosis, agitation, confusion, hallucinations or tremors. These all indicate serious and rare reactions to the medicine that will require immediate medical attention. Make sure to alert anyone that you live with or family members and visit the nearest hospital when possible, if you experience any of these side effects.

Some patients will experience side effects once they have stopped using sparfloxacin. If you experience any stomach cramps and severe pain, abdominal tenderness, watery, severe diarrhea that may contain blood or a fever, you must contact your doctor immediately. Experiencing side effects after completing your course of sparfloxacin is very rare, and for most patients taking this medication, they may experience mild side effects or none at all.

As with all medication, if you notice any unpleasant reactions to this medication that may cause concern, make sure to discuss them with your doctor when possible.

Dosage

Unlike many other oral medicines, sparfloxacin can be taken either on an empty stomach or with meals, as well as with milk and lactose based products or caffeine foods or drinks. Many doctors will recommend taking this medication with meals, however, as it is important that you take sparfloxacin at regular and evenly spaced times. This is because sparfloxacin is most effective when there is a constant amount of it in the blood or urine. Consequently, it is important that you do not skip or miss any doses.

You will also be advised to drink plenty of water and fluids during your treatment with sparfloxacin. This is because drinking extra water has been proven to help prevent some undesirable side-effects.

The dose of sparfloxacin that you will be prescribed may differ to that of other patients. Because of this, it is vital that you only ever take this medicine when it has been prescribed and planned by your doctor. It is also important that you follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label and do not alter your dose at any point.

In the treatment of infection for adults, the standard dose of sparfloxacin is to take 400 mg on the first day. This will then be followed by 200 mg once a day for the next nine days. In children and teenagers younger than 18 years old, the dose and its use must be decided by a doctor.

If you happen to miss a dose of sparfloxacin, it is important that you take it as soon as possible. However, if enough time has passed that it is nearly time for your next dose, make sure to skip the missed dose and return to your regular dosing schedule when possible. In no circumstance should you ever double dose.

Interactions

Before starting your treatment with sparfloxacin, it is essential that you make sure your doctor is aware of any prescribed or over-the-counter medications that you may be currently taking. There is a total number of 207 major drug interactions that sparfloxacin may have with other medications and a total of 337 moderate interactions, so it is important that you are as transparent as possible. The most common drug interactions that can have serious implications for this medicine include any forms of Promethazine DM or Triavil. It is also important that you report any medicines that may affect the heart rhythm such as quinidine, sotalol, dofetilide or procainamide, diuretic tablets (water pills) and any medication that may cause drowsiness. Medications that may cause drowsiness can include sleeping pills, sedatives, anxiety medications and antihistamines.

When disclosing any medications that you may be taking, it is also important to include herbal remedies and vitamins. In particular, you should inform your doctor of any medications or supplements that contain iron, calcium or zinc as these can have negative interactions with sparfloxacin.

In addition to medication, your doctor may also want to discuss your diet and lifestyle before taking sparfloxacin. This is due to the fact that certain foods and drinks can potentially cause unwanted interactions. Alcohol or tobacco also pose the risk of exacerbating some side effects. Consequently, their consumption may need to be reduced or stopped entirely whilst taking sparfloxacin.

Warnings

Before starting your treatment with sparfloxacin, it is hugely important that you communicate any current health problems or illnesses clearly to your doctor. Doing so will prevent any serious interactions and side effects, as well as help to ensure that your treatment is successful. Your doctor will need to consider a number of factors before deciding on your treatment plan with sparfloxacin, ensuring that the benefits that it will have outweigh any potential risks.

It is important that you are as transparent as possible with your doctor before taking this medication, letting them know of any current allergies, illnesses or medications that you may have. Allergies can prove to be life-threatening and they often require urgent medical attention, so if you have experienced any allergic reactions to medicines, foods, dyes, preservatives or animals in the past, let your doctor know. Because of this, it is always important that you read the medicine's label in detail before consumption.

In rare cases, this medicine may have serious interactions with other medical problems. Make sure to alert your doctor of any other medical problems that you may have as they may decide to alter your dose or opt for a different treatment entirely. In particular, if you have a brain or spinal disease that includes epilepsy, other seizure disorders or the hardening of arteries in the brain, it is important that you consult your doctor. This is because sparfloxacin can increase the chance of convulsions and seizures occurring. Sparfloxacin also has the potential to cause heart rhythm problems, so if you have any heart rhythm problems or heart or blood problems that could lead to heart rhythm problems, make sure to let your doctor know. Kidney disease can cause higher risks of side effects, as the removal of sparfloxacin from the body is likely to be slower. In addition to this, sparfloxacin can cause severe reactions to sunlight. This must be considered in those with skin sensitivities to sunlight.

It is advised that caution is taken when using sparfloxacin in children and teenagers of 18 years old and younger. This is because some similar medicines have been recorded as causing bone development problems in young animals. However, if there is no alternative option to sparfloxacin, it is likely that your doctor will choose to use it. In the elderly, this medication has not been found to cause the same problem with bone development and it is considered safe to use.

In regards to pregnancy and breastfeeding, sparfloxacin is grouped into pregnancy category C, for all trimesters. The pregnancy C category means that either tests in animal studies showed an adverse effect but there are no sufficient studies in pregnant women. Or, it can also mean that no animal studies have been conducted and there are no sufficient studies in pregnant women. Because there are no adequate studies relating to breastfeeding and sparfloxacin either, it is important that you discuss pregnancy and breastfeeding with a doctor before starting this medication.

Storage

As with the majority of medication, it is important that you keep sparfloxacin away from heat, moisturizer and direct sunlight as this could cause damage to its active ingredients. It must also be kept from freezing or very cold environments.

It should be ideally stored in a protective container, in dark place at room temperature, such as a medicine cabinet or drawer.

Sparfloxacin should always be disposed of if it appears to have been damaged or if it has reached its label expiry date. It is important that this medication is inaccessible to children and vulnerable adults.

Summary

Sparfloxacin can provide quick and effective treatment of respiratory tract diseases such as pneumonia and bronchitis. By killing the infection-causing bacteria and inhibiting its growth, the infection can be stopped and your lungs can successfully heal. Symptoms of pneumonia and bronchitis can be incredibly uncomfortable and can cause serious harm or even threaten the lives of children, the elderly or those with weakened immune systems. These symptoms can include difficulty in breathing, a persistent cough with lots of mucus, chest pain and flu-like aches, temperatures and chills. Pneumonia can be more severe, with symptoms that include a rapid heartbeat, confusion and blood in the mucus.

Because this medication is most effective when it has consistent levels in the blood and urine, it must be taken at regular intervals and times, as part of a regular routine. This can be worrying to some people, as it requires responsible time-keeping and organisation that may be hard to manage. However, your doctor will be able to help you create a routine that is easy to remember and practice. The fact that you can take sparfloxacin on an empty stomach and with caffeine or milk is reassuring to many it can give patients the option to take sparfloxacin on waking up or before bed. Other useful ways to remember to take your medication routinely includes phone alarms, paper reminders and help from family or friends.

Antibiotics have been often over-prescribed or misused in the past, resulting in the advancement of some viruses and the poor effectiveness of other antibiotics. One of the biggest problems in patients taking antibiotics is the temptation to stop taking antibiotics once they feel better. It is hugely important to remember that antibiotics need to be taken in their full, prescribed course to work and effectively kill the infection that you have. Please be mindful that even if you feel better, you must continue taking your medication. It is also vital that you only ever take sparfloxacin if it has been prescribed and planned by a doctor.

The risk of serious side effects with the medication is very low, with the majority of patients either experiencing no side effects, or effects that are mild enough to not need medical any attention. The most common side effects that are commonly reported include blisters, itching, redness, a rash and swelling of the skin. While innocuous to most and issues that are likely to go once the body has adjusted to the medicine, they can be bothersome to other. If any of your side effects don't go away or worsen, make sure to visit your doctor. It is also important to keep track of any side effects once your course of medication has finished, as in rare cases, sparfloxacin can cause severe implications after treatment.

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Last Reviewed:
December 23, 2017
Last Updated:
April 05, 2018
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