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Antibiotics (Quinolones) Linked to Aortic Aneurysm

People taking an antibiotic such as Avelox, Cipro or Levaquin have twice the risk of a rare but very dangerous condition called aortic aneurysm.

Fluoroquinolone antibiotics were introduced in the late 1980s. Drugs like ciprofloxacin (Cipro) and levofloxacin (Levaquin) became household names and mainstays in treating common infections in the respiratory and urinary tract.

Side Effects of Fluoroquinolones:

It has taken the FDA decades to discover some of the more serious side effects of such drugs, however. Even now, the possible neurological effects of these medications are largely unrecognized.

Nerve Damage:

In 2013 the FDA warned doctors about the possibility of irreversible nerve damage from fluoroqinolones like ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin or norfloxacin. Symptoms include pain, burning, tingling, numbness and weakness.

Tendon Rupture:

Tendon rupture is another complication of such medicines. Achilles tendon rupture is seven times more likely in people taking one of these antibiotics.

Retinal Detachment:

Retinal detachment was another adverse reaction linked to fluoroquinolones. It wasn’t discovered until 2012.

Aortic Aneurysm:

Now an article in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that such drugs may also be associated with aortic aneurysm or dissection. This is a potentially fatal condition in which the main artery exiting the heart becomes weak and balloons out (a condition called aortic aneurysm) and can tear apart (known medically as aortic dissection). Taking a fluouroquinolone antibiotic doubles the risk of experiencing one of these rare events.

JAMA Internal Medicine, online, Oct. 5, 2015

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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