Antibiotics are prescribed on a daily basis, and when used under the right circumstances, they can help people recover from illness and even save lives, but it has been argued that they are over-prescribed. They can also have unwanted and very serious side effects that many people do not consider or realize when it comes to this type of drug.
What to Watch Out For
According to Jane Brody writing for The New York Times, the class of antibiotics that has some of the most severe side effects is also one of the most popular – fluoroquinolones. Fluoroquinolones include drugs such as the well-known Avelox, Levaquin, and Cipro. Of these, Johnson & Johnson’s Levaquin was the top-selling antibiotic in 2010, yet in the same year there were over 2000 lawsuits filed by people who experienced serious side effects from it.
The Potential Side Effects of Levaquin:
- Brain fog
- Trouble sleeping
- Phototoxicity (sensitivity to sunlight)
- Acute kidney failure
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Hearing issues
- Psychotic reactions
- Retinal detachment (can cause blindness)
- Possibly permanent, nerve problems (peripheral neuropathy) even with short term use (Rare)
Dr. Mercola cites research conducted by Dr. Jay Cohen in 2001 in which a whopping 91% of patients experienced symptoms related to their nervous system, such as headaches, numbness, weakness, psychosis, memory loss, dizziness, pain, tingling, and anxiety and panic. In addition, 73% of patients experienced musculoskeletal-related symptoms, such as tendonitis and rupture of the tendons, joint swelling, and weakness. Patients under 18 years of age are at higher risk for side effects, as are those over 60 years of age, pregnant and nursing women, and those who have liver disease and are currently taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids.
Overuse of fluoroquinolones also plays a role in their level of danger to patients. This overuse has contributed to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE), Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and Clostridium difficile (C. diff). These antibiotics are supposed to be reserved for serious illness, yet are frequently prescribed for illnesses that can be treated with weaker, safer drugs or left to get better on their own or via non-medical means. These illnesses include earaches, bronchitis, and sinusitis. These drugs are also often prescribed for viral infections, which do not respond to treatment with antibiotics.
Side Effects of Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics [Video]
What Can You Do?
At some point you or a loved one is going to be prescribed an antibiotic and it is recommended to only use fluoroquinolone antibiotics as a last resort. It is important that you understand what type of infection you have. If it is viral, then you don’t need antibiotics. If you do have a bacterial infection, then ask about the drug you have been prescribed, what the potential side effects are, and if it is a fluoroquinolone, then as whether there is a safer alternative. You should also ask when you should contact the doctor if you experience unexpected side effects or do not seem to be recovering. If you do experience any adverse drug reactions please report them to the FDA by calling: 1-800-FDA-1088
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