Millions of people take FQ (fluoroquinolone) antibiotics every year. Number one is ciprofloxacin (Cipro) and number two is levofloxacin (Levaquin). You can tell if you have received this class of antibiotics if your medicine ends in FLOXACIN, such as moxifloxacin (Avelox) or norfloxacin (Noroxin). Most people assume that antibiotics are safe drugs. Except for a little digestive upset or diarrhea they assume side effects will be mild and temporary. Such may not be the case with FQ antibiotics. One reader shared a story about abdominal aortic aneurysm and levofloxacin.

Could Levofloxacin Be Linked to Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm?

Q. My husband had a procedure to remove a cyst and was prescribed Levaquin. Two years later he had an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) rupture at home.

This 10 cm aneurysm appeared “out of nowhere” according to his regular doctor, as there had been no sign of it in earlier scans. Could the Levaquin have contributed?

A. An aneurysm is a bulging or ballooning of a major blood vessel. The aorta is the main blood vessel running from your heart to your lower body. It passes through your chest and into your abdomen. The aorta is roughly the diameter of a garden hose.

abdominal aneurysm aorta vector, artery and kidney

This major blood vessel is under constant pressure from blood pumping from the heart to your extremities. If the wall of the aorta becomes weakened and ruptures, you will bleed out in short order.

It is impossible to tell whether your husband’s AAA was caused by the fluoroquinolone (FQ) antibiotic. Swedish researchers have reported an association between FQs and abdominal aortic aneurysms within 60 days of treatment (BMJ, March 8, 2018).  Whether the risk extends beyond two months remains unclear.

Another Case of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm and Levaquin:

A few years ago we heard from another woman who reported a somewhat similar situation. This time it was her father who suffered an abdominal aortic aneurysm after receiving Levaquin. In his case the rupture of the aorta occurred within six weeks.

Did Levaquin Antibiotic (Levofloxacin) Cause Lethal Aortic Rupture?

A man reported an aneurysm after taking Cipro and Levaquin:

“I also had a descending aortic abdominal aneurysm. I have taken Cipro and Levaquin frequently for lung problems. I had terrible pain between my shoulder blades. It was agony. They had to go up through each of my femoral arteries to basically put a bandage on it.

“I will still have to have more surgery in the future. The device in my aorta can move or just wear out in 5 to 10 years. I also had to have a pacemaker put in. It’s been a nightmare.”

Amy in California shared this experience:

“These toxic antibiotics have destroyed my abdominal arteries. They can target any artery; the aorta just takes the most pressure from the circulatory system. Fluoroquinolones have caused multiple aneurysms and a life-threatening rupture.

“The FDA finally has given our poisoning a name: FQAD – FluoroQuinolone-Associated Disability. Thousands and thousands have been harmed. These drugs should only be used in life and death situations!”

Other Serious FQ Side Effects:

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm is not the only worrisome complication of fluoroquinolone antibiotics. Another side effect is nerve damage (neuropathy). It can be incredibly debilitating. Symptoms can include pain, burning, tingling, numbness, weakness and changes in sensation to light touch or temperature.

Other worrisome adverse reactions are tendon problems, tendinitis and tendon rupture. Some people develop psychological side effects including agitation, irritability, hallucinations and psychosis. Super infections, including C. diff diarrhea, can be life threatening.

We recognize that many people tolerate FQ antibiotics without problems. But the FDA has made it quite clear that:

“Because fluoroquinolones, including CIPRO, have been associated with serious adverse reactions, reserve CIPRO for use in patients who have no alternative treatment options for the following indications:

  • Acute exacerbation of chronic bronchitis
  • Acute uncomplicated cystitis
  • Acute sinusitis”

In other words, the FDA is telling physicians to reserve these drugs for situations when there are no other options.

The People’s Pharmacy and the FDA:

When we read an article about a serious drug side effect that may not be well known, we contact the Food and Drug Administration. This is especially true if readers of our syndicated newspaper column or visitors to this website alert us to similar problems. That was the case with drugs like ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin and abdominal aortic aneurysm.

We contacted the number one person in charge of overseeing adverse drug reactions at the FDA. We pointed out that Swedish researchers reported an increased rate of abdominal aortic aneurysms linked to fluoroquinolone use.

We suggested that in light of the Swedish research:

“Perhaps now would be a good opportunity to update the public about abdominal aortic aneurysm and aortic dissection associated with fluoroquinolones.”

Here is the response from the FDA’s Division of Drug Information. It was hardly satisfying:

“We are aware of the literature on fluoroquinolones and aortic aneurysm and dissection.  The FDA will update the public should our review of the safety evidence leads to regulatory action or changes to existing public communications.

“If in the future you have additional questions, please feel free to contact us again at druginfo@fda.hhs.gov.”

Anyone who wishes to submit a report to the Food and Drug Administration about fluoroquinolone antibiotics or any other medicines may do so at:

www.fda.gov/medwatch

or call 1-800-FDA-1088

Share your own FQ antibiotic story below in the comment section.

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  1. Donna
    west coast
    Reply

    My Dad was given Levaquin for a bladder infection when he was 94. Normally an extremely optimistic and alert person with all his critical faculties intact, he started having hallucinations and thoughts of suicide. When I flew to his side across the country, he was barely recognizable. I read up on the side effects of Levaquin and hallucinations was one of them, so I called his doctor who immediately told me to stop him from taking any more. He said to flush him with as much water as possible. Once my father had stopped the Levaquin and drank gallons of water for two weeks, all his symptoms disappeared.

  2. SARAH
    CALIFORNIA
    Reply

    Thank you for spreading the word on these hideous drugs!
    When I had a neurophysiologist test my nervous system he told me that my body was responding like an over-dosed chemotherapy patient and that a bit more would have confined me to a wheel chair. These drugs are a horror story. There are many other antibiotic options to take.

    Be wise and internet research anything ever prescribed to you, do not trust the doctor or pharmacist to warn you. There are so many side effects, here is what happened to me: nerve damage, liver issues, legs jerking at night, painful, sharp needle pains all over body and face, cracking of multiple joints, inability to walk more than a few yards or hold a cup of water with one hand, rigid back/hip, extreme pain in ankles, arms, feet and wrists, 3 day migraines due to chemical sensitivities, loss of bowel motility, hormone/thyroid issues, extremely bad skin sagging, utter despair/depression. I am almost 5 years out and still having issues with strength and exercise intolerance (13th relapse with ankles/feet), skin damage, migraines, non-fixable cortisol levels, severe hip and back pain and the inability to properly digest. This is a lonely journey with little help, thank God for the support groups. This has truly altered my life, career and my bank account. Don’t walk, RUN from this drug. Please join our Facebook support group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/floxies/. Please see our group for the in-depth science end of it: https://www.facebook.com/Fluoroquinolone-Toxicity-Study-NFP-144478016244899/?ref=bookmarks

  3. Fran
    Pennsylvania
    Reply

    I was prescribed Levofloxacin for eight weeks to treat a prostate infection. During that time period, I had a ruptured tendon in my foot. I had to wear a special boot to bed every night for about three months to heal the tendon. It was very painful. I will never take that drug again. I have it on my medication list as an allergy. Ruptured tendons were listed on the sheet that came with the medication.

  4. Leanne S.
    Portland oregon
    Reply

    I took both Cipro and Levofloxacin.
    Within a month I had so much arch and ankle pain I could barely walk. I could not sleep.
    I had an MRI of my foot and ankle.
    My tendons on my right foot are shredded.
    They will never heal.
    I would need surgery for repair. After which I can’t put any weight on my foot for 2 months. I can’t do that. I am a caretaker of a handicapped husband.
    Two of my doctors agree it can be from the antibiotic.
    This medication needs a black box warning.
    The pharmacist offered a short verbal warning about the aorta. But said the drug company says it’s so rare they are trying to get that warning off the drug.
    So he says don’t worry about it.

  5. Veronika
    UK
    Reply

    Yes,the fluoroquinolones cause aneurysm ,after I took Norfloxacin and Avelox I developed aneurysm inside my left kidney,this drugs are terrible should not be on the market !

  6. James
    South Carolina
    Reply

    Before Dec 2018 I was an avid mountain-biker and outdoor enthusiast. I rarely ever go to the Dr for medications, but had a sinus cold and wanted to see my Dr about it so I could get better and regain some fun time outdoors. She gave me an Rx for Levaquin and simply said “This will knock it out.” and she sent me on my way to the pharmacy. The pharmacy gave me my meds and sent me on my way.

    Aside from the usual 40 page book full of small text warnings that come with every Rx that no one ever really reads, I was given no counseling from the Prescribing Physician as I believe is required by the FDA. I had no knowledge of the dangers of this toxic medication, nor did I know that the FDA had already warned that Doctors should not prescribe FQ’s to patients with uncomplicated sinus issues that could be treated with other less risky medications. I simply trusted my Dr to heal me safely.

    Four days into my 5 day prescription I could not walk or stand. My feet felt like someone had sliced my Achilles tendons away from my heels. My feet, ankles, and lower legs were swollen like sausages, and I felt like I could no longer lift my left arm to full height due to a sudden onset of pain in the shoulder joint that was never present before. But my sinus issued had cleared up at least.

    It is now October of 2018 and these “side effects” still persist and new side effects appear almost monthly. I can still not stand or walk for more than 5 minutes without disabling pain, I have neuropathy around both lower legs, ankles and the tops of both feet. the shoulder pain still prevents me from raising my left arm, the systemic collagen depletion in my body has rendered all of the padded areas of my feet and hands so sensitive, that when I open a jar of pickles the padding in the palm of my hand hand feels bruised afterwards. I used to be healthy and active, and because my Dr tried to kill me with good intentions and ignorance concerning this class of toxic drugs, my quality of life is now ruined. All I am able to do now is sit at home and watch TV. When I do manage to go outside and attempt to take a walk I have to stop and sit down every 20 feet. I can’t even go grocery shopping with my family due to the concrete floors and the disabling pain caused by walking or standing. The only thing standing between me and a disability claim at this point is the fact that I am still able to work from my home office, where I do not have to wear uncomfortable shoes or make a long commute to an office location or a long walk from the office parking lot to the cube farm. If I had to go that route I would be unable to maintain a job and would have no other choice but to apply for disability.

    Active mountain-biker to disabled in 4 days from an “antibiotic”.

    All along Doctors I speak to dismiss my symptoms as a sudden onset of Plantar Faciitis in both feet and just symptoms of “getting older”. I swear they are trying to cover this up as well as kill us slowly with their “good intentions” and willful ignorance. As a patient I am shocked that I am able to very easily find valid information directly from the FDA’s own website that my Doctors are in complete denial about. Thanks for “practicing” on us as if we are your own personal lab rats. My faith and trust in the medical and pharmaceutical industry is now gone, along with my collagen and connective tissue.

  7. Catherine
    Florida
    Reply

    I have issues with all quinoline drugs. They are in my allergy lists not to take

  8. jim
    Fuquay-Varina, NC
    Reply

    i was prescribed levofloxacin for an infection, had a ct lung scan 8 weeks later and an ascending aortic aneurysm (6cm) was discovered. A little while later i found myself at Duke having open heart surgery.

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