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Reviewed by Dr Rohanti Ravikulan, MD
Information last reviewed 10/12/19
Metronidazole is an antibiotic and antiprotozoal medication used for the treatment of certain bacterial and parasitic infections, including pelvic inflammatory disease, endocarditis (an infection of the heart) and, more specifically, bacterial vaginosis (bacterial overgrowth in the vagina), as well as various skin conditions. The medication is available via prescription in many forms, including gel and tablets. Depending on its intended use, the medication is sold in many forms and under various brand names.
Metronidazole is used for the treatment and prevention of a number of conditions, including:
NB.: Metronidazole is not suitable to treat a vaginal yeast infection or viral infections such as the common cold.
Metronidazole works by inhibiting the growth of bacteria or parasites that are responsible for the infection. By specifically targeting and disrupting the DNA of such cells, and consequently blocking their functions, Metronidazole effectively kills the viruses that cause the inflammation.
Metronidazole is one of the most effective treatments for bacterial vaginosis and is commonly prescribed. The medication is available as an intravaginal gel and in the form of oral tablets. Generally, the gel has fewer side effects when compared to the oral form.
It typically takes around 2 to 3 days to start seeing the effects of Metronidazole in bacterial vaginosis. However, you need to take the medication for the entire duration that it was prescribed for, even if the symptoms start to recede, in order to prevent the infection from returning. The oral treatment is generally prescribed for 7 days.
Each 500mg Metronidazole tablet contains 500mg of the active ingredient, metronidazole.
Metronidazole also contains the following inactive ingredients: carmellose sodium, lactose, povidone, magnesium stearate, maize starch, microcrystalline cellulose, methylhydroxypropylcellulose (E464), macrogol 400 and titanium dioxide (E171).
Please note: Inactive ingredients may differ across different manufacturers.
Metronidazole does contain lactose as one of its inactive ingredients, so if you are intolerant to lactose you might experience some uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms. Other than that, metronidazole is not known to cause severe allergic reactions in people unless you have a hypersensitivity to this medication.
The recommended dosage of Metronidazole 500mg will depend on the condition you have, your age, the severity of your condition, other medical conditions you may have, and how you react to the first dose.
The recommended dosage for women and adolescent girls to treat bacterial vaginosis is to take Metronidazole 500mg orally (by mouth) twice a day for 7 days. Alternatively, there is also the possibility to take 2g as a single dose for 1 day only. If Metronidazole is prescribed for other conditions, the dosage may vary.
Do not exceed your recommended dosage. Swallow your tablets whole, during or after meals with a glass of water to prevent stomach upset. Do not chew them. Use the medicine for the full prescribed length of time, even if your symptoms improve before that.
Always take this medicine as your physician or pharmacist has prescribed you. If you are not sure, do check with your physician or pharmacist.
Get immediate medical help if you experience signs of an allergic reaction to Metronidazole:
Reported side effects of Metronidazole include:
Rare but serious side effects include:
If you experience any serious side effects, talk to your physician.
You should avoid consuming alcohol while you are taking Metronidazole and for at least 48 hours after the last dose in order to avoid abdominal distress, nausea, vomiting, flushing, or headaches.
If you have Crohn’s disease, talk to your physician about the potential impact of Metronidazole on your health, as patients with this condition have an increased risk of gastrointestinal and other cancers due to ongoing inflammation.
Metronidazole is contraindicated in the following patients:
Metronidazole may interfere with the following medicines:
Always inform your doctor of the drugs, vitamins and herbal medicines you are taking before using Metronidazole.
The most cost-effective treatment for bacterial vaginosis is oral metronidazole; however, the cream may be more suitable for patients who experience undesired side-effects from the oral medication, namely nausea. It should also be noted that alcohol can intensify the nauseating effects accompanied by oral Metronidazole.
Single oral doses of Metronidazole, up to 15 g, have been reported in suicide attempts and accidental overdose. Reported symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and ataxia. If you suspect that you or someone you know is overdosing, contact your physician or a local Poison Control Center or seek immediate medical attention.
It is important to continue treating with Metronidazole for the prescribed amount of time, as stipulated by your doctor. You should carry on using the medicine until you have completed the course. Discontinuing treatment prematurely can cause the infection to return.
It is highly advised that you avoid consuming alcohol whilst treating with Metronidazole due to the adverse reactions caused by the interaction, even with very small amounts.
The side effects that may be produced include:
You should wait for a period of 48 hours before resuming alcohol, to allow the medicine to be completely expelled from the body.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. You and your physician will determine if and how you should take any medication prescribed to you following a medical consultation.
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