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Could Your Antibiotic Cause You Permanent Nerve Damage?

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Did you know that the FDA has issued a safety notification about a class of popular antibiotics called fluoroquinolones (FQs)? The announcement involves the following drugs:

  • Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
  • Gemifloxacin (Factive)
  • Levofloxacin (Levaquin)
  • Moxifloxacin (Avelox)
  • Norfloxacin (Noroxin)
  • Ofloxacin (Floxin)

According to the FDA, over 21 million people get a prescription for one of these drugs each year. That makes this class of antibiotics among the most popular in the pharmacy. Doctors love to prescribe FQs because they are effective for a wide range of infections including bronchitis, pneumonia, sinusitis, urinary tract infections, prostatitis and skin infections.

These drugs have been around for decades. Cipro, for example, has been on the market for over 25 years. After all this time, one would think that the FDA would have a clear understanding of the benefits and risks of such drugs. In fact, you might assume that doctors would have been warned about complications of FQ drugs like Levaquin or Cipro from the very beginning. Au contraire. It comes as a great shock to patients to discover that serious fluoroquinolone warnings continue to be issued, decades after these drugs were originally approved.

The most recent FDA announcement relates to nerve damage, aka peripheral neuropathy. Here is the official safety communication issued on 8-15-2013:

"This serious nerve damage potentially caused by fluoroquinolones may occur soon after these drugs are taken and may be permanent... Peripheral neuropathy is a nerve disorder occurring in the arms or legs. Symptoms include pain, burning, tingling, numbness, weakness, or a change in sensation to light touch, pain or temperature, or the sense of body position. It can occur at any time during treatment with fluoroquinolones and can last for months to years after the drug is stopped or be permanent. Patients using fluoroquinolones who develop any symptoms of peripheral neuropathy should tell their health care professionals right away."

In other words, patients can experience this potentially irreversible nerve damage within days of starting drugs like ciprofloxacin or levofloxacin. Even if the drugs are stopped promptly, the side effects can last.

Doctors and pharmacists may not always describe the symptoms patients need to watch out for. And people may not associate weakness, numbness or tingling with an antibiotic, since it doesn't seem logical that a medicine designed to overcome an infection would damage nerves. Such symptoms may not seem that bad, but in some cases peripheral neuropathy can be permanently disabling.

OTHER KINDS OF NERVE DAMAGE

We first became aware of unusual problems brought on by fluoroquinolone antibiotics in July of 1994 after receiving this question:

"I often have side effects from medicines, but have never experienced anything like Floxin. I took it for a severe sinus infection followed by pneumonia last winter. After three days of utter misery and a rash on my back, I started hallucinating. Are there other people who have had a bad reaction to this antibiotic?"

We had to do some digging, but we finally discovered that FQs can cause "hallucinations, visual disturbances confusion, dizziness and seizures."

We talked to journalist Stephen Fried about his wife's experience with Floxin. In the book Bitter Pills, the Frieds describe how one Floxin pill for a urinary tract infection led to debilitating neurological symptoms that lasted for years.

At the time, a lot of doctors didn't believe such long-lasting neurological complications could happen so quickly. It has taken the FDA over 25 years to alert physicians to just such a possibility.

The same can be said about tendinitis or tendon rupture. This is another very serious adverse reaction triggered by FQ antibiotics. The first published report of an Achilles tendon problem appeared in 1983. Thereafter there were many case reports linking drugs like ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin to tendinitis and tendon rupture. These can also be disabling complications of FQ antibiotics. It took the FDA until 2008 to issue "black box" warnings about this problem, 20 years after Cipro was first introduced.

FLUOROQUINOLONE SIDE EFFECTS & COMPLICATIONS:

  • Digestive distress, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, heartburn, vomiting
  • Headache, dizziness
  • Agitation, anxiety, irritability, restlessness, confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Tendon problems, tendinitis, tendon rupture
  • Retinal detachment
  • Nerve damage, peripheral neuropathy, nerve tingling, numbness
  • Allergic reactions, skin rash, anaphylaxis (life-threatening reaction requiring immediate medical attention!)
  • Super-infections including C. diff diarrhea
  • Hallucinations, psychosis, seizures
  • Depression, suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Irregular heart rhythms, torsades de pointes, QT prolongation
  • Kidney or liver damage
  • Blood disorders
  • Arthritis, muscle pain, weakness

READER REACTIONS:

Here are some stories from visitors to our website. Add your own FQ experience below. If these antibiotics have worked well for you without side effects we would like to hear about that. If you have suffered, we would like to see your story as well. Please comment below.

"I have taken Cipro a number of times over the years and wondered why my tendons, especially the Achilles tendon, were so inflamed. Finally read the side effects and saw it can be a serious side effect to the point of bursting the Achilles tendon. I carry a note with my insurance card in my wallet warning not to give me any of this family of antibiotics." C.G.


"It's been eight months and I've been to two specialists trying to determine if I have arthritis. They say I do not. I took Cipro and Levaquin within a one month period and it has been eight months since then, and I have pain and stiffness EVERY DAY. What started out as plantar fasciitis and wrist tendinitis then moved into my hips and elbows and is now in my upper back and shoulders.

 "I ran a low grade fever for 6 months after taking these drugs. The symptoms started within two days of taking the last dose of Levaquin. I have not even addressed the fatigue, irritability and mood changes I experienced during the first three months after taking the drug. I was healthy, active and exercised regularly. Now I don't know what to do--stretching generally aggravates my pain. How can the FDA allow this drug to be prescribed?" Augsdi


"In 2000 I had an adverse reaction to Cipro: inflammation of most of my connective tissue to the point of needing help to get up out of bed or get dressed. I was unable to lift much and could not sit for more than 15 minutes due to the pain. My doctors could not believe it was the Cipro. It was 5 years before I was able to hike and ride my bike again." Jo


"The quinolone drugs, Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox, etc. are extremely strong and dangerous. When they go awry the adverse effects are serious, long term and often permanent.

 "The awareness in the medical community of these dangers is extremely poor and often the concerns of patients suffering from adverse effects of these drugs are dismissed as 'not possible,' despite studies and literature citing these very effects i.e. neuropathy, tendon ruptures, neuromuscular damage, cartilage damage and others.

 "I struggle to heal from 5 days of Cipro given a year ago and have met hundreds of people now who are going through similar struggles due to quinolone antibiotics. These drugs, though tolerated by many, should only be dispensed when there is no safer alternative due to the severity and permanence of adverse effects." Tao

 

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Thank you very much for posting this! People are being hurt by Fluoroquinolone antibiotics every day. Because symptoms are often delayed, and because all medical professionals seem to deny the possibility that these drugs can wreck the havoc that they can, many people suffer from adverse effects of fluoroquinolones and don't even know it.

Your article may enlighten some and I thank you for it! Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome/Floxing includes damage to connective tissue (tendons, ligaments, cartilage, fascia, etc.) throughout the body, damage to the nervous systems (central, peripheral and autonomic), and more. The damage done by fluoroquinolone antibiotics can destroy a person’s quality of life or even kill them. Please visit www.floxiehope.com for stories of hope and healing.

I was prescribed Cipro for a UTI 5 years ago at age 53. It was a 10 day Rx. Within a few days after starting the Rx I started getting migrating pains in my joints and muscles. The bottom of my feet started to burn and tingle. I couldn't stand having anything on my feet or they would feel like they were on fire. My leg muscles got so weak I couldn't stand for any length of time. There were other things too, I felt just awful.

I called the prescribing physician, who told me these were normal side effects and would disappear once I finished the Rx. Well, it didn't. It only got worse. Over the ensuing weeks I suddenly developed arthritis in both of my hands, wrists, knees and feet. My knees crackle badly now when I bend them and feel like I have sand in them. I have to wear ortho shoes. Never had one bit of arthritis before I took this drug. My doctor would never acknowledge that Cipro may have been a factor in the sudden development of all of these problems. I went to a rheumatologist who thinks I probably have mild RA now and put me on prescription anti-inflammatories. They help.

I also saw a neurologist. He ran a bunch of neuro tests which were all normal. He was the only one who acknowledged that Cipro could have played a factor. Now it's five years later. Some of the issues have improved. The arthritis has not improved. I'm stuck with it now for life. Needless to say, had I known about the potential dangers of this drug I NEVER would have taken it.

Thanks to this article, I know now why I have such nerve pain in my feet and legs...I was put on Levaquin over a year ago, and suffered much pain walking...did not take the whole prescription, but enough to have done the damage, which is still giving me much pain in my feet and legs...and I see now that this affliction will most likely be with me permanently...have told my doctor right away about this pain, she said that it sounded like tendonitis, but did not admit to me that it was mostly likely from the Levaquin she prescribed...

I had an urinary infection around April, I took Cipro and a few days later, I was having problems walking, then I was ok; now a few months later I am having problems with my left foot and sprain my ankle sitting on my chair.

All the more reason to avoid the doctor and his prescription pad! The drug reps sure aren't going to tell the doctors and I predict that a lot of doctors will blow off patients who ask about such effects. The thought that ONE DOSE taken for a UTI can have an effect that lasts for years is chilling. Home remedies do not do this, nor do supplements like D Mannose and Craberry capsules and extra Vitamin D.

My husband was given Cipro for infection and was soon seeing flashing lights off and on. He went to the eye doctor and was told his retina might be detaching, and he should wait 6 weeks, and if it had gone away he would be all right.

He has had no trouble with his eyes since then. When another doctor tried to give him Cipro he refused of course, but the doctor looked very skeptical.

OMG! Hallelujah! An article that I can finally bring to my doctors which they just might read!

I have been suffering for over 16 years. No doctor believed it has stayed in my system for so long. I have every side effect you mentioned. Then unfortunately after staying away from this class of drugs for 16 years, my surgeon felt that the Floxin solution she put in my head during a nerve decompression would not harm me, was quite wrong. I have been so very sick since then and I am much older now so it is harder to convince doctors that it is not my age.

Every bone, muscle, tendon and nerve hurts. My panic attacks came back full force and my eyes are so blurry. Brain fog, memory problems and trying to finish a sentence is disturbing as well. My stomach problems are worse than ever.

Thanks for the article. Us "Floxies" appreciate it!

Sherry

It takes the FDA too long to take notice of dangerous drugs! Four years ago, my 70 y/o husband took only two of five prescribed tablets of levaquin for bronchitis. After only two tablets, he experienced severe pain in both calves and became motionless at the bottom of the stairs in our home. I suddenly remembered the 80 y/o husband of a friend who had just severed his Achilles tendon after long term use of cipro in the treatment of prostatitis; his recovery was excruciating. Fortunately, my husband recovered after enduring several months of pain.

There actually was a new black box warning on the danger of ruptured tendons which went unnoticed by both our geriatrician and pharmacist. Our doctor said he had never had a bad experience with levaquin which he mentioned to a fellow racket ball player. Interestingly, his friend actually had experienced such a ruptured tendon. As the Graedons have stated, such a relationship to antibiotics often goes unnoticed.

This new black box warning of potential nerve damage is far more devastating and has ruined many, many lives; just do a Google search for some terrifying stories.

Levaquin originally was developed to be used as a last line of defense against dangerous and stubborn bacteria instead of as a first drug of choice by too many doctors. Some people just have a sensitivity to these dangerous antibiotics. My husband could tolerate cipro some time ago but not the levaquin. It's really a game of Russian roulette with potentially devastating possibilities!

Doctors are likely to ignore patients complaints about the adverse reactions of the drugs they are taking. This can lead to disability and death. It is always a good idea for people to do their own research about the side effects of any drugs that a doctor prescribes, because the doctors don't.

I had taken cipro several times for a UTI without a problem. Then 18 months ago I took it and after 2 days of taking it i was unable to walk on my left leg/foot, (I found the symptoms online and immediately stopped the cipro).

I had to crawl to bed and used 2 canes to go to the internist the next day. He sent me to an orthopedist who saw immediately knew it was the Cipro side effect. Luckily my symptoms subsided in a few days but I am now overly sensitive to antibiotics and will NEVER take that class of drug again.

These comments are frightening and make me wonder about the safety of taking ciprofloxacin. I have successfully used that prescription, five times or more, for diverticulitis. No side effects at all. Hopefully, my doctor is aware of this and will prescribe a different antibiotic in the future. You just never know!

Because this was a one time experience my recognition is hazy; probably due to old age. About 4 or 5 years ago, I went to a primary care doctor for something I can't even remember. She prescribed Cipro, I believe was for 10 days. A few days after stopping Cipro, my right arm elbow area was really hurting. I had previously went on the Internet to check Cipro, as I have allergic reaction to the mycin antibiotics, and didn't know if Cipro was a mycin. I read it can cause tendonitis.

When I went for my follow-up appointment, the doctor I saw then didn't think it was tendonitis, but possibly arthritis. He offered to refer me to a rheumatologist. As I already had an appointment with my rheumatologist, I declined. My rheumatologist hadn't heard of a possible link between Cipro and tendonitis, so he said he doubted it, even though I told him I didn't do anything that would cause a tennis elbow injury. He said it was very common even doing simple tasks.

He gave me a steroid injection and my elbow has been fine since. Even so, I added it to my list of drugs not to give me. I am making a copy of the above statement by the FDA, and give one to my rheumatologist in 2 weeks during my appointment. I also will give one to the doctors I see on a regular basis, even though, none have prescribed Cipro or any "floxacin" drugs. I've always thought Cipro caused my elbow tendonitis, regardless of doctors' opinions. Thank you, The People's Pharmacy!

The only antibiotic that has worked for my frequent UTI has been cipro. I have never had a bad reaction but I will be observant in the future. Thanks for the heads up.

I took levaquin 3 years ago for an infection in my leg when I first was diagnosed with lymphedema, and had cellulitis. After 3 weeks of taking it, I had severe shortness of breath, ringing in my ears, pain walking and difficulty walking. The pain has never left, only gotten worse. I can only walk or stand for a few minutes at a time before having to sit. I have terrible insomnia, and with all the medical problems, have had trouble with being in a bad mood, as anyone would with all this pain. The doctor said he never heard of any problems with this medication, and acted totally surprised that I thought it came from it. He wanted to send me to a rheumatologist, as he said it wasn't the meds, but maybe arthritis. But, you don't just suddenly get arthritis!!

I have come across so many people who have had a physical or mental issues after taking Floxin. I was awake and so hyper after taking it one day, including finding myself outside walking around in the middle of the night and not knowing how I got there.

I took it one day and would never take any of the FQs again. Invariably when a culture and sensitivity test is done for a urinary tract or other common infection, one of the FQs comes up as the drug that will be effective against it. I think that the problem with that test is that all the new drugs are in the "system" and therefore come up as the drug of choice, when one of the old drugs may very well work.

Luckily my Dr. was willing to accept that I had had a problem with Floxin and would always put out the extra effort to find some other drug to try. If you suspect a drug is causing a problem I believe it is imperative to stop it and call your Dr. immediately.

I was prescribed Cipro for a UTI. After the very first pill(at night) I developed such pain in my right leg that I couldn't walk or even straighten my leg. The next morning I immediately went to my doctor who agreed it was most likely the Cipro and never to take it again.

For JBA: Have you ever tried 3 D-Mannose capsules and a cranberry capsule taken together? They seem to work synergistically for me to clear up a UTI. If your infection is already resistant to other antibiotics it might be worth a try to use something other than an antibiotic. The reaction I have had to Cipro is that it totally liqufies my bowel contents. Metamucil helped some, but I would never take it again.

In June 2012, I was hospitalized with Pneumonia. I was given and took for one week, Avelox, one of the fluoroquinolones (FQs)mentioned in this article. In about4 months, around October, I got knee pain and effusion (water) in my right knee. I stopped walking (which I used to do daily). The knee pain prevents my climbing stairs in the normal way. An MRI showed meniscus tears and significant loss of knee cartilage. I'm wondering if this medication could have caused this problem, (with a delay of a few months). I would appreciate any information on this possibility, and if anything can be done about it.
Comment submitted to The Peoples Pharmacy 10-10-13

In June 2012, I was hospitalized with Pneumonia. I was given and took for one week, Avelox, one of the fluoroquinolones (FQs)mentioned in this article. In about4 months, around October, I got knee pain and effusion (water) in my right knee. I stopped walking (which I used to do daily). The knee pain prevents my climbing stairs in the normal way. An MRI showed meniscus tears and significant loss of knee cartilage. I'm wondering if this medication could have caused this problem, (with a delay of a few months). I would appreciate any information on this possibility, and if anything can be done about it.
Comment submitted to The Peoples Pharmacy 10-10-13

Thank you for this site on the internet. I was a clinical medical technologist {ASCP}, licensed by the state of California, where I worked in Los Gatos-Saratoga Community Hospital from 1967 to 1988; Hematology was my specialty. I was a detective of disease, aiding physcians in making the correct diagnosis pf the patient. I do know that my work helped many receive a correct diagnosis.

I loved my job, but my husband, a teacher, died suddenly in 1987 and I went into a deep depression trying to cope with great loss of my best friend. The loneliness is a killer, grief unbearable, but with help from family, friends, psychiatrist and mental health workers I managed to cope.

I received many different medicines, anti-depressants, anti-spagmotics, etc, etc. I was diagnosed with Parkinson's in Oklahoma several years ago while visiting my daughter, a nurse, after my behavior was abnormal and was taken to psychratric ward in Elk City, OK. The psychologist evaluated me and called in a neurologist to concur with her diagnosis of Parkinson's.

I was taken off the antidepressents I was taken, prescribed my psychiatrist in MA, and started Cymbalta and two drugs used to treat Parkinson's. I returned to MA in better shape, able to function better, my handwriting began to improve, tremors lessened, gait was returning to normal. My doctor in MA sent me to the MA Medical School to be certain I was following the right course for my condition.

On my second visit to the Department where Parkinson's, and other like disorders are evaluated and treated, I was told I did not have Parkinson's, was told the meds I had been taking had reacted with my blood and caused symptoms of Parkinson's,

I am now 82+ taking a blood pressure drug and suffer from osteoarthritis. I have a very good rheumatologist watching over me. No more antidepressants for me. Sincerely, Mary C. W.

why then do doctors prescribe this for diverticulitis attacks?

I have taken Cipro, Levaquin and Avelox numerous times over many years. And now I am a neurological patient for treatment of neuropathy.

At first I could not understand why my feet felt like "fuzzy feet." I Googled "fuzzy feet" and that started my research into it. My investigation took me thru twists and turns, finally to information on my new neurologist's website that a cause can be quinolone antibiotics, including Cipro, Levaquin, and Avelox.

I suffer from neuropathy confirmed by my doctor in both feet. It is slowly advancing from my feet to my calf. Where will it stop? This is scary.

At first I cried uncontrollably because I realized this is a life sentence--there is no cure for it, just treating the symptoms. My insurance deductible is $2400 (up from last year $1200) and my out of pocket is $4700+ (up from last year $2500). This is another life sentence. Having neuropathy and having insurance I cannot afford is a double whammy.

Thank you, Big Pharma, for my life sentence. No money in the world can give me back my health.

I am in my eighties and have had many urinary infections in my lifetime. I was given Cipro each time. When I was 65 years old, I developed Peripheral Neuropathy symptoms. My Osteopath Physician prescribed Methyl B12 injections. My burning and tingling feet and hands symptoms subsided.

Recently, the Internal Medicine assigned to me by the Retirement Community in which my husband and I live, said there was no need to take these expensive injections--that most people simply take one injection a month of the Cyano B-12 type injection. I tried that. My PN symptoms reappeared strongly--worse than I had ever experienced.

I switched back to the Methly injections twice per week and my PN symptoms subsided. My daughter--in her forties-- also had an experience with Cipro. She had taken it for urinary infections and soon after developed C-dif, a terrible and very serious disease--can be deadly. She was hospitalized for a long stay and finally got past it. I still have urinary infections and now take a sulfur drug for them. I am told this drug can suddenly stop working. My current well known and well respected urologist told me there were only two drugs for urinary infections, the two I have mentioned. I hope he is wrong! What is a person to do?

See my comment of October re D-Mannose and Cranberry capsules. Honestly, it works! I have had UTIs over a 40-year period and these pills together keep it at bay. If you forget and feel any discomfort or get cloudiness or odor to your urine, take the pills twice a day. No pain, no dangerous side effects. The doctor is only interested in DRUGS but supplements work fine.

Cipro changed my life! Two years ago on day 6 of taking a high dose of Cipro I could now longer walk, had roaming pain and burning. Six months later I could walk without the fear of falling. Now 2 years later my legs will not support myself if I try to stoop lower than the height of a chair. If I do light exercise for more a week I again have trouble walking.

If I use my hand gardening for more than a short time I lose control of my hands - if I tried I could not pick up a feather after weeding. Yes Cipro changed my life. Doctors tell me nothing other than to give it time. It feels permanent ....how do you know and what can you do?

As a medical professional, I appreciate articles like this because they help me to know what side effects my patients may have. A physician should never indiscriminately prescribe ANY antibiotic, however many serious medical problems such as Pneumonia, Diverticulitis, Complicated Urinary Tract Infections, and a host of others are best treated with the fluroquinolone antibiotics.

As medical professionals, we are searching for the most effective drug (if one is needed). Many antibiotics that have fewer side effects, such as amoxicillin or azithromycin, are ineffective or less effective than a fluroquinolone for these medical problems.

Personally, I will continue to prescribe Ciprofloxacin, Avelox and Levofloxacin to my patients when scientific evidence supports their use. I will, however, remember this article and warn my patients of the potential side effects so that they are informed as well.

Thank you, People's Pharmacy!

I wonder if Cipro even works for a kidney infection. I've been taking it for a week. I could not tolerate the dose of 500mg twice daily, so cut the pills in half and took 2x daily. After a week of this, the pain hasn't subsided at all. I'm taking Hydrocodone for pain, and I worry that I'll get dependent on these painkillers.

Is there a safe, effective alternative for Cipro for kidney infections?

Please tell me that there is, because I absolutely cannot stand this pain for another day!
I'd appreciate any and all suggestions!

I refused a RX for Cipro two weeks ago. Clearly, the benefits of this agent do not outweigh the risks for me.

It might be interesting to note that the US Armed Forces antibiotic drug of choice for deployed military is CIPRO. Their choice of a potent antibiotic for a patient population who are very physically active, thus at risk for the very serious side effects of CIPRO, are obviously not being considered or, if considered, not of major concern to the military.

The problems associated with use of CIPRO are worth considering when a patient who has been deployed presents with problems that could be the result of side effects associated with CIPRO. Clinicians treating members of the military should be alert when treating these patients. At the very least, previous antibiotic use should be questioned and noted.

My son experienced long nose bleeds while taking Cipro. They stopped 3days after he quit taking the drug. He did not take all the medication.

I cannot believe that after reading the above information and the following tragic stories of the damage done by these antibiotics - PERMANENT damage - that you "will continue to prescribe Ciprofloxacin, Avelox and Levofloxacin to my patients when scientific evidence supports their use." You plan to warn your "patients of the potential side effects so that they are informed as well." Do you really believe that is enough... that they can possibly understand the life sentence these drugs will bring down on them?

You are their doctor. They trust you. They have no way of understanding the seriousness of this nor that the damage cannot be fixed whether they recognize it or not and stop the medication.

I was given Levaquin a few weeks ago for a roaring bout of bronchitis. In addition, my physician gave me prednisone... as the bronchitis aggravated my asthma. By day 10, I had horrible cramping in my right calf. I used some Aleve, and daily epsom salts baths, and some massage.

I had been warned by the pharmacist about the tendon rupture possibility, so stretched my calves VERY carefully. Even so, have been hobbling around the hospital and home with difficulty. If I sit for any amount of time, like driving the 90 minutes to the airport to pick up family, I can barely get out of the car.

I saw the NP at the office today for this problem, and she suggested tonic water to alleviate the cramping. I had a couple of glasses prior to work, and felt a bit of relief... will see how it goes.

Have had to suspend any exercise (was doing Kosama, a pretty high intensity program), but did pull my rebounder out and have been gingerly bouncing on it, hoping to get the benefit of rebounder and stretch together. Massage helped quite a bit, if only for a short time.

I won't be taking Levaquin, or the Cipro the hospital usually prophylaxes us with when we are exposed to meningitis or whooping cough. Hopefully this cramping will calm down, but what I am reading here doesn't give much hope! Anyone find a cure yet?

I was on Cipro for 3 months due to a infection I had in my stomach. I was also on Flagyl oral and Ampacillin through a pic line. During that time I started noticing pain in my joints and weakness in my hands and legs. I finished my medications in march and was fine. In July I started getting sick again.

I had a weird pain in my throat and then it went to my head. It felt like knife stabbing pain in my head. Then it turned in to burning pain in my head, ear and throat and left breast. Numbness and tingling in head, face, lips, tongue, right side of back. Weakness in left arm. Pain in joints and twitching in body.

I saw my GP and had a bunch of test done, MRI on head and spine, CT scans on head, spinal tap, blood work, test for lyme disease, x-rays, and I have been to many specialist. Everything came back normal. so the doctors are puzzled about what is wrong with me. All my symptoms are sounding like MS but nothing is showing up.

I am getting worse so I am researching myself to figure out what is wrong with me. It's so scary not knowing. So my question is, is it possible that all the antibiotics that I was on could of caused some kind of damage? Please if there is anyone out there that is going through the same thing or knows anything about this please respond!!!!

Dear DNB,
I'm sorry I don't have a definitive answer. You certainly have my sympathy. I think you need to see a specialist. I'm struck by the fact that it's YOU doing all of the research. That's fine, but you need answers from the medical community. Please go back to your GP and tell him/her that you're not satisfied and need to know what is causing your symptoms. Urge them to keep looking.

I took CIPRO for about two weeks for a kidney infection and had a hell of a time, the pills seemed to make the pain worse, and I had to take Vicodin. It did cure the infection and I've been symptom-free for about a month.

But back to you: all of the reading I've done points to some possibility of short term, temporary nerve damage in a proportion of patients using Cipro. You were on this antibiotic for a long time and it may take time for the symptoms to abate. Why don't you consult a nutritionist and/or naturopathic doctor as well, to see if you need a radical diet realignment?

Is your doctor prescribing probiotics or any other nutritive treatment to counteract the long effects of Cipro? If not, he or she should also be addressing that area. Good luck! Please come back with an update.
Trish

Jana, I also stopped taking Cipro with five days left on my treatment course....with full awareness that doctors strongly urge continuing the treatment. It may have been stupid of me, but I had to trust the strong warnings my body was sending me...the Cipro was making me feel so terrible and causing so much pain I absolutely could not stand it. Thankfully, the infection has gone away. I hope your son's nose bleeds have stopped.
Trish

TS

Thank you so much for commenting. Its nice to know that someone out there cares. I asked my doctor about Cipro possibly causing nerve pain but he didn't think it would and he said it would be best to ask an infection specialist dr. So he booked me in to see that dr. And I am taking probiotic vitamins. Is there any other vitamins I should be taking? From all of the research that I have been doing its sounding like this is MS.:( I have two little kids and I am so scared that I have this disease:( Anyways I really appreciate the response. If there is anyone out there going through the same thing as me or even similar please let me know if you have any answers or know what I could do!! Thanks DNB

DNB, thanks for writing back. I really can't stress enough that comments from readers like me -- we do care! -- may be useful but I hope that you continue to get help from the trained medical community, be that a physician, naturopath, nutritionist, nurse practitioner. It's good that he's booked you with a specialist. Please ask him also if he could recommend a nutritionist who could help you. It's good that you're taking probiotic vitamins. I hope you will update us.

GW and others who've had problems with Cipro, have your symptoms ceased yet? Please let us know.

I was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy approximately 15 years ago, although I was not diabetic, and am still suffering with it today, with it being last described as 'moderately severe', severe enough to justify being classified as 'disabled'. A number of tests were done to try to determine the cause but all came back negative, so it was called 'idiopathic'.

Prior to the onset of the neuropathy, I had been given Levaquin on a number of occasions for sinusitis, bronchitis, etc., as well as Cipro. Now, my everyday routine calls for doses of Neurontin, morphine sulphate and methadone to control the pain, and have been on these drugs for many years; without them, the pain is almost unbearable. Now, as a result of having to take all the narcotics for pain, I have other side effects from them. So now I see that it all may have come from taking Levaquin or Cipro. Wonderful!!! The gift that keeps on giving.

I took norfolcine dec 18 finished my course on dec 24 and haven't felt right since! 3 years ago I took depo provera and went in the tanning beds and had a bad reaction then lasted bout a month mostly itching, tingling and light senvity. Developed some photosenvity, but it cleared up with in 6 months ) I have saw 3 different doctors since I took this reaction and none of them can give me a answer if it's going to be prenmeant or not and all want me to see an allergy specialist but what's that gonna do for me ! I have been on presoadone for 7 days and just finished my medrol taper ! And alls the medrol did was take down some of the swelling in my face and itchyness ! I am terrified I'm only 27. I have bad headaches, eyes a bit funny, some itchyness, look tired all the time, really bad shakey ness, feel burnt all over a lil not as bad though but my main conceren are hands, legs and feet ! My hands have numbing tingles in them shake like a leaf @ times, have trouble moving them and pain in my fingers. I have trouble walking weak legs. But my feet conceren me the most my ankles feel swollen, can only stand for minutes @ time until I have pain, I feel like I'm walking on my toes, I have numbing tingles all over them feels like my toes are cutting of the circulation. It feel like I have never damage and arthritis in my feet and hands but worse. I really hope this wears of but I Dodnt think it will, there Hasent been any change in about 5 weeks and it's already ruining my life !

Reading all of these heartfelt comments and pleas for answers, I'm DISGUSTED beyond words that this antibiotic is still on the market.

The FDA is always slow to act, if they act at all. Sadly and dangerously, clinicians are slow to believe that what patients are saying, or how they are reacting to a medication may actually be valid.

Physicians are not scientists. Too many know very little about the science of the medications they prescribe. They actually believe the pharmaceutical reps are sharing valid information with them. They don't understand the benefit/risk presentations reps are trained to present. Clinical trials? Journal studies? “Employ” the thought leaders in any specialty and have them involved in the promotion of your product! This is public knowledge. It’s been in the media, finally! Look it up - the info is available on line if you take the time to search.

Finally, some clinicians are going public and sharing what they know. Unfortunately, many patients could have served as a “canary in the coal mine” had their complaints been heeded instead of ignored. Statins are another example of clinicians not paying attention to patients. It has taken years for physicians to actually realize and admit the fact that statins can have serious and ongoing side effects.

It's not so easy to pay attention, enter data into the computer and write a script in the fifteen minutes allocated to each patient's visit. There are countless, caring and frustrated physicians who do realize the art of medicine has been lost and the assembly line of medicine has replaced with managed care, corporate control and loss of autonomy.

The pharmaceutical lobby is POWERFUL!! Our legislators listen to them because they are being paid to listen. They are rewarded handsomely for listening and acting on behalf of this very powerful and dangerous lobby.

Pharmaceutical companies know long before the public becomes aware of the dangers of certain prescription drugs or medical devices. They are willing to risk exposure as long as they’ve made their millions. Market share is what drives drug and device promotion-not safety or concern for patients.

Regarding your leg cramps, search Mustard for Leg Cramps on this site and you will be amazed. It works for me. Mine are a side effect of statins. I take a spoonful before bedtime.

Do not be discouraged if joint pain is a problem which you feel is directly related to one of these floxin antibiotics. Starting in late 2008, I began visiting different doctors about terrible joint pain I'd been experiencing which was getting worse. It began as a sore right foot, then right hip, then left hip, then a knee, then a hand... I finally suffered pain in all over the place -- waking hours and sleeping. Like many of you was told repeatedly that I did not have arthritis. Luckily after about 4 1/2 years the pain and terrible stiffness it vanished over a period of about a month - Alas though, about 1 1/2 years after the pain/stiffness disappeared, I began having problems w/my left arm, hand and leg. Makes lots hard to do including walking over 15', holding things w/ arm/hand, typing...

Hopefully that too will disappear before I die. At least it is not painful-- doctors tend to blame my age (63). I planned to visit a neurologist in a week or so and in preparation for that, tried to recall when all this started (also have a vision problem). (I was very busy in years past and just hopped all would resolve w/out treatment for the most part.) I suddenly today realized it all began after the several courses of antibiotics I took over about 6 weeks in late 2007-- which seemed, at the time, to be the right thing to do. My vision problem began right away-- the pain/stiffness did not begin for months though. So, Googled 'antibiotics nerve problems' and was dumbfounded to find this and other web sites and the 'black box' warning info... That's all. MY POINT HERE WAS ORIGINALLY TO SAY--TAKE HEART, THE ARTHRITIS LIKE PAIN... DID FINALLY GO AWAY. Sorry so lengthy-- got carried away.

This is unbelievable I gave been suffering for 2 years with muscle, tendon and joint pain. Started in elbow, then shoulder, wrist and now Achilles tendon. I kept telling my Dr. I felt like I was in a shrunk body and that my muscles, tendons and my left hip. My joints really hurt as well causing me to use ice packs to ease pain.

I came to recently find out from a friend that CIPRO had side effects that could be causing these issues over 2 years I have taken CIPRO 10 times due to an intestinal issue. I only pray this is not permanent damage. I am just shocked that the FDA would approve this.

It's about 9 months since I first commented. My diagnosis is "idiopathic neuropathy." Idiopathic because, it's hard to believe, doctors just do not seem to know that antibiotics can do such damage, and attribute it to idiopathic meaning "just don't know the cause".

What does it take and how long does it take for patients to be acknowledged about their ails due to drugs? I am now being treated for neuropathy by my foot doctor, who knows more than the 2 neurologists I tried and felt the large amounts of money spent with them and getting no relief. My foot dr. has given me a Vitamin B/alpha lipoic acid/benfotiamine combo and it helps some but will it cure me of this?

At least it's affordable, unlike what the neurologist prescribed, a compounded lotion with costs $500. Who has the money for that? Not I. This is ironic, using affordable antibiotics to get better but ending up with something much worse that costs unaffordable money for relief and not even to cure.

I was also put on cipro for almost 14 days back in January for diverticulitis. (Also another antibiotic) and since then I have been having a winging sensation all around the gut area. It has got worse over time to the point now I feel the tingling not only in my gut but on the sides and back area. Has anyone else had these same symptoms? I haven't had the leg pain. I do have hip pain though especially in my left hip to the point of it hurting just to reach for something. What, if anything could I take to help ease this discomfort?

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