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Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics Can Cause Peripheral Neuropathy, Ruptured Tendons, Cardiovascular Disease (and Flagyl/Metronidazole)

I wrote about my nasty experience with nerve damage from Flagyl (Metronidazole), and how when I asked “any risks”, my doctor lied to me with a resounding “NO”.

Fortunately, I have mostly recovered over a period of 11 months (usual prognosis for recovery is 12-18 months so that’s good), but I still suffer pain in my left arm regularly, as well as some lingering effects in my toes.

But now it turns out that my “head in the sand” theory about medical doctor ignorance has solid basis in fact—devastating side effects are in fact possible with a wide variety of antibiotics, and this has long been a blind spot with the medical profession, conveniently not reported and thus ignored.

The issues are not just with Flagyl, but with another entire class of antibiotics causing nerve damage, tendon damage, cardiovascular damage, etc. I would say this: use an antibiotic only when absolutely necessary.

FDA Panel Seeks Tougher Antibiotic Labels

Mounting evidence of previously unknown, and sometimes permanent, side effects prompted review

Food and Drug Administration advisory panel overwhelmingly called for heightened label warnings on widely prescribed antibiotics called fluoroquinolones because of unusual but sometimes devastating side effects.

...

Most fluoroquinolones now are sold as generic drugs, but the well-known brand names include Bayer AG’s Cipro, generically called ciprofloxacin; and Johnson & Johnson’s Levaquin, or levofloxacin. This class of powerful antibiotics has been available for nearly three decades.

...

These cases included weakness, numbness, pain, discomfort, burning and tingling. That office also reported the case of a man who had a hypersensitivity reaction while taking Levaquin. After getting a second treatment with the drug, he was admitted to the intensive care unit and died within two weeks, according to FDA documents.

...

In a more recent review, FDA staff reported that this class of drugs carries a risk of cardiovascular disease, and of tendon rupture and peripheral neuropathy.

“Over the life-cycle of these drugs, several adverse reactions have been reported and most of them were not evident in the preapproval safety databases,” the FDA reviewers wrote.

WIND: note the “previously unknown” phrase, which translates to “we are incompetent and once in a while we finally fix things that hurt people”.

My own experience with metronidazone suggests to me that doctors learn about a drug in medical school, hard code the “known” issues into their brains, and then lock down their knowledge (what exactly would cause them to do otherwise?!). Combine that with a touch of arrogance (“another hypochondriac patient imagining things”), decreasing remuneration and so on. Bad combination. How else to explain my doctor emphatically answering “NO” to my “any risks” question? A google search turns up all sort of issues with Flagyl/metronidazole. How the hell does a doctor prescribe double the usual dose for double the usual time and get away with being so ignorant?

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