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Metronidazole is an antibiotic used to treat skin infections, mouth infections, and medical conditions including bacterial vaginosis and pelvic inflammatory disease. It can also be used to prevent bacterial or parasitic infections when traveling. 

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Read up

    • Metronidazole is commonly prescribed to treat a range of infections caused by anaerobic bacteria
    • It can be used for infected insect bites, skin ulcers and bed sores
    • It is available in a range of forms, and can be used as a cream or gel to treat acne rosacea
    • You should abstain from drinking alcohol when taking metronidazole
    • It is important to read the patient leaflet for a full list of side effects and cautions.

    Metronidazole works on anaerobic bacteria. These are bacteria that do not require oxygen to multiply, and they therefore cause infections in areas such as the gut, pelvis, bones and gums.

    Metronidazole alters the DNA in bacteria and protozoa, meaning that they cannot form new DNA or multiply. This stops the infection in its tracks and leads to the illness resolving. 

    Metronidazole comes in a variety of forms including tablets, liquids and suppositories. It is also available as a skin gel or cream. A vaginal gel is available for women who need to treat bacterial vaginosis. The type of metronidazole you take or apply will depend on the infection you need to treat.

    Tablets should be swallowed whole with a drink of water. They should also be taken after eating. 

    Some infections require just a single dose of metronidazole to treat, whereas others will require up to two weeks to treat.

    When using a skin gel or cream for acne, treatment may last for weeks or even months.

    The dose of metronidazole will vary depending on the infection you are treating. Tablets are available in 200mg, 400mg and 500mg doses, and may need to be taken two or three times a day.

    Always read the label carefully to take the dose recommended by your prescriber. As with all antibiotics, it is important to finish the whole course of metronidazole. If you stop too soon, the infection may return. 

    As with most antibiotics, some people will experience side effects. The most common side effects include:

    • Nausea or vomiting (feeling sick or being sick)
    • A metallic taste in your mouth
    • The sensation of a furry tongue

    Keep taking the medication but speak to a doctor or pharmacist if these side effects continue to bother you.

    More serious side effects are less common but include:

    • Yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes – these could be a sign of liver problems
    • Infections, ulcers, bleeding gums and tiredness – these could be due to a blood problem
    • Severe stomach pains – this could be pancreatitis
    • Changes in your vision
    • High temperature, stiff neck, confusion and aversion to bright lights – this could be a sign of metronidazole affecting the brain.

    Seek urgent medical advice if any of these occur.

    If you have a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) including breathlessness, lip or tongue swelling, call 999 immediately.

    You must avoid alcohol when taking metronidazole. Drinking alcohol when taking metronidazole can lead to vomiting, stomach pain, palpitations and a headache. Once you have finished metronidazole, wait two days for it to leave your body before drinking any alcohol.

    Metronidazole may not be suitable for people who:

    • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
    • Require dialysis
    • Have liver problems
    • Will be unable to abstain from alcohol.

    During the Consultation with EU Meds, you will be asked to complete a health questionnaire to check that metronidazole is suitable for you. 

    A pharmacist from EU Meds will review your current medications, including any herbal remedies or supplements, to ensure that metronidazole will not interact with them. Once prescribed, you can order metronidazole online for home delivery.

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