Fluoroquinolones are a class of antibiotics known as broad spectrum antibiotics. They are effective in treating infections caused by bacteria that is resistant to other antibiotics, so they are often used to treat hospital-acquired infections. However, they are frequently prescribed to treat less serious bacterial infections that should be treated with safer antibiotics, or to treat infections that are caused by viruses and will not respond to antibiotic drugs. Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are associated with very serious and potentially fatal side effects.
Common Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics
Fluoroquinolone antibiotics include:
- Avelox (moxifloxacin)
- Cipro (ciprofloxacin)
- Factive (gemifloxacin)
- Floxin (ofloxacin)
- Levaquin (levofloxacin)
- Noroxin (norfloxacin)
Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are prescribed to treat a wide variety of infections including:
- Sinus infection
- Skin infections
- Prostate infections
- Urinary tract infections
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
Serious side effects of fluoroquinolone antibiotics can include:
- Peripheral neuropathy, sometimes irreversible
- Tendon injuries, including tendon rupture
- Ligament injuries
- Retinal detachment
- Aortic dissection
- Aortic aneurysm
Peripheral neuropathy and tendon injuries are long-known side effects of fluoroquinolones. All of the above side effects are believed to be due to the negative effect of fluoroquinilones on collagen.
Aortic Dissection and Aortic Aneurysm
Research published in JAMA Internal Medicine, on October 5, 2015, found that fluoroquinolone use doubles the risk of aortic aneurysm and aortic dissection within 60 days. Both conditions can cause permanent injuries or death.
In aortic dissection, there is a tear in the wall of the aorta, which is the major artery leading out of the heart. It can allow blood to flow between the walls of the blood vessel. Aortic dissection can be fatal. Complications can include stroke, organ damage, and damage to the aortic valve.
Aortic aneurysm is ballooning, or stretching and bulging, of the aorta. It is often a silent killer with no symptoms until it suddenly bursts. When an aortic aneurysm bursts, death can follow within a few minutes or hours. Aortic aneurysm can also lead to the formation of blood clots and stroke.