Quinolone toxicity is an issue in medicine we’re constantly trying to shine a light on. Recently, we sat down Progressive Medical doctors, patients, and our friends at the Quinolone Vigilance Foundation to create some videos to bring greater attention to fluoroquinolones and the havoc they can wreak on someone’s life.
Fluoroquinolones are a family of broad-spectrum, systemic antibacterial agents that have been used widely as therapy of respiratory and urinary tract infections123. They are active against a wide range of aerobic gram-positive and gram-negative organisms12. Fluoroquinolones are used to treat bacterial infections in many different parts of the body4. However, these medicines will not work for colds, flu, or other virus infections4.
Epidemiological studies have reported an increased risk of rare adverse effects associated with fluoroquinolones12. These include tendinopathy and tendon rupture, peripheral neuropathy and aortic aneurysm1. Safe prescribing of fluoroquinolones requires recognition of patients with risk factors for toxicity1.
Antibiotics can cause side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, rash, upset stomach, sensitivity to sunlight, fungal infections of the mouth, digestive tract, and vagina1. Most adverse events related to antimicrobials are reversible rapidly on cessation of the medication2. Irreversible toxicities include aminoglycoside-induced ototoxicity, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and toxicity secondary to nitrofurantoin2.
The Quinolone Vigilance Foundation is an international non-profit, charitable foundation that funds research on fluoroquinolone toxicity and helps raise awareness among patients and medical professionals about the dangers of these antibiotics1. They work to publish timely, accurate, trustworthy information about prescription drug side effects2.
You can support the foundation by becoming a volunteer and representing and advocating for the Quinolone Vigilance Foundation in your own community as part of their Ambassador program1
Fluoroquinolones are a class of antibiotics approved to treat or prevent certain bacterial infections. However, some people who take these medicines may develop disabling and potentially permanent side effects of the tendons, muscles, joints, nerves, and central nervous system1. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises against using fluoroquinolone antibiotics for the treatment of three common infections: acute sinusitis, acute bronchitis, and urinary tract infections (UTI) without complications because the chances of serious side effects outweigh the benefits for most people1.
Serious side effects reported to the FDA include an increase in ruptures or tears in the aorta, significant drops in blood sugar levels, ruptured tendons, pain, “pins and needles” sensations, depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide and other mental health issues1.
Some common fluoroquinolones include ciprofloxacin (Cipro), gemifloxacin (Factive), levofloxacin (Levaquin), moxifloxacin (Avelox), and ofloxacin (Floxin).
One way to avoid side effects is to stop taking the fluoroquinolone at the first sign of tendon pain, swelling, or inflammation. You should avoid exercise and use of the affected area and immediately ask your doctor to switch to a non-fluoroquinolone drug. Fluoroquinolones are associated with prolonged (up to months or years), serious, disabling and potentially irreversible drug reactions affecting several, sometimes multiple, systems, organ classes and senses1
If you experience side effects while taking fluoroquinolones, you can report them to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) through their MedWatch program.
There are several alternatives to fluoroquinolones that can be used to treat bacterial infections. The specific alternative that is best for you will depend on the type of infection you have and your individual medical history. Some alternatives to fluoroquinolones include amoxicillin, doxycycline, and cefpodoxime1. In some cases a natural alternative may work. There are several natural substances that have antibacterial properties and may be used as alternatives to antibiotics. Some of these include garlic, honey, ginger, thyme, and oregano12. However, it is important to note that while these natural remedies may help with some infections, they may not be effective against all types of bacterial infections. It is important to speak with your healthcare provider before using any natural remedies to treat an infection. If you must take an antibiotic, avoid fluoroquinolones and consider taking a probiotic as well to help repopulate beneficial flora in the gut that will be disrupted by the antiobiotic.