Antibiotics, as a whole, are beneficial, helping eliminate bacterial infections. However, antibiotics are not the best treatment for all infections, certainly not for viral infections. And many antibiotics, specifically a group known as fluoroquinolones, have serious side effects.
In 2010, Levaquin (levofloxacin) was one of the most prescribed antibiotics in the United States, but by the year 2014 over 2,000 lawsuits had been filed by patients who had serious implications.
Fluoroquinolones are prescribed for everything from sore throats to bronchitis to earaches. This is not what they are designed for. Levaquin, Avelox (moxifloxacin), and Cipro (ciprofloxacin) are designed to treat life-threatening bacterial infections, not diseases which can be treated by less harmful methods.
The drugs are clearly overused and overprescribed by those doctors who don’t want to look for alternatives. Using these drugs is complete overkill. Often they are even prescribed for ailments which are ultimately caused by a virus and can’t be treated with any antibiotic.
According to a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association and directed by Dr. Etminan, patients who have been exposed to fluoroquinolones have a higher risk of retinal detachment. In fact, the risk was nearly five times greater than those who did not use this medication. There was also a higher risk of acute kidney failure among those who use the drug.
The study was conducted using a hospital database which indicated all of the hospitalizations which occurred after a fluoroquinolone was prescribed. This means that his research material is easily accessible to anyone.
In one specific case, a patient who went into the hospital with pneumonia. Despite his objections, his doctor gave him Levaquin and told him it was the medication he needed. After one dose, the patient began experiencing pain. When he called his doctor to report this, he was told to just keep taking it.
By the second dose, the man began experiencing vision problems; debilitating pain; uncontrollable shaking; problems urinating; muscle spasms; heart palpitations; tingling in his feet, hands, and back; dry eyes; a ringing in his ears and many others. He never took a third dose, but these problems remain now, several months later.
These are many of the same side-effects experienced by fibromyalgia patients. It stands to reason that fluoroquinolone can amplify these symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia and CFS. They should not be used as a first-line treatment anytime another option exists.
The potential reactions you could have from these medications extends to almost every area of your body. The most severe of these are the damage to your nervous, skeletal, visual and retinal systems, and gastrointestinal systems. They can also damage your liver, heart, and skin. Though these drugs have a warning label, doctors rarely tell their patients about the risks.
There is a shortage of long-term studies on the side-effect associated with fluoroquinolone usage. The main reason is that most of the side-effects are not immediate but can occur weeks, months, or years later. Their symptoms are rarely connected to their use of these drugs.
It is possible that using fluoroquinolones may actually contribute to fibromyalgia since, some of the side-effects do in fact, closely resemble some of the symptoms associated with fibro.
Though half a dozen fluoroquinolones have been taken off the market due to their risks, doctors and patients need to be advised against taking the remaining ones. And if they are your only choice, then be aware that exercise or physical activity should be avoided until through taking the drug. It is not a “cure-all.” Children under the age of 18, women who are pregnant or nursing, and adults over the age of 60 are at the largest risk of developing complications.
As a patient, you can ask what kind of antibiotic you are being prescribed and if your doctor insists on giving you fluoroquinolones you can seek a second opinion. The focus needs to remain on treating the disease and not just covering up symptoms.
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