The antibiotic class known as the Fluoroquinolones can cause nervous system conditions known as Peripheral Neuropathies, conditions of chronic and often permanent nerve damage. Usually, these peripheral neuropathies show up as burning, tingling, numbness and pain in the lower legs. Sometimes, they can ‘creep’ further up the legs over time, or show up in the fingers and hands, leading to the name ‘Peripheral Neuropathy’, meaning nerve damage in the ‘periphery’, or far ends of the body. It’s a devastating side effect of these drugs that will later get one of the most serious warnings a drug can get- even while doctors continue to prescribe these drugs, often ‘indiscriminately1.
The Fluoroquinolones are a commonly prescribed antibiotics, the most popularly prescribed are include Cipro (ciprofloxacin), Levaquin (levofloxacin) and Avelox (moxifloxacin). You can see a full List of Fluoroquinolone and Quinolone Antibiotics here. Although fluoroquinolones can be lifesaving in certain circumstances, there are serious adverse effects associated with this class of antibiotics.
Bad Things Can Happen When You Take Fluoroquinolones
Many adverse effects of Fluoroquinolones have been reported, with tendon rupture being one of the most recognized, partly because of the Black Box Warning added to these medications by the FDA, notifying doctors and patients of the risk of tendon injury and rupture. But that is only the tip of the iceberg of a constellation of symptoms that can occur from taking these drugs. If this is your first exposure to the dangers of these drugs, please see the Introduction to Fluoroquinolones to get a ‘primer’ on the serious problems that can occur when someone takes these drugs.
Peripheral neuropathies are another serious side effect of the Fluoroquinolones that have been reported in the medical literature since 1990 23. Continuing research conducted in the past few years has established beyond any doubt that the use of Fluoroquinolones almost doubles the risk of getting this damaging nerve condition4, leading the FDA to issue a Black Box Warning on the drug packaging for this problem too.
However, this has not stopped the rise in the numbers of prescriptions for these drugs, and with tens of millions receiving the drugs every year, more and more people are inevitably suffering from the long-term neurologic damage these drugs can inflict.
What the Heck are Peripheral Neuropathies
And Why You Should Care?
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition where there is damage or destruction of the peripheral nerves which carry messages to and from the brain and spinal cord and from these structures to the rest of the body. It usually lower legs and, more rarely the upper legs and arms, and the symptoms include:
Organ or gland dysfunction
Poor sexual function
Poor bowel control
Change in sensation to light touch, pain or temperature
Change in position sense of the body
According to national institute of health (NIH), 20 million Americans (almost 1 in every 15) are affected by peripheral neuropathy and may be a part of the constellation of symptoms that people with Benign Fasciculation Syndrome often get. Certainly, not all of these cases are caused by the Fluoroquinolones, and there are a variety of causes, such as:
Other drugs such as chemotherapy, Flagyl, and Linezolid5
There are also cases where the cause of peripheral neuropathy has never been identified, or they get identified as the autoimmune disease called Guillian-Barre Syndrome. Even though Guillian-Barre is known to be caused by the Fluoroquinolones, most doctors will still not make the connection between them, leaving people wondering how they could have contracted this serious disease 6. Since millions of people receive Fluoroquinolones every year, and doctors are known to be unfamiliar with the adverse effects of these drugs, it ‘begs the question’ of how many of these cases of Peripheral neuropathy from unknown causes are caused by the Fluoroquinolones.
Fluoroquinolones, including levofloxacin, have rarely been
associated with sensory and motor polyneuropathy,
perhaps because of the fact that physicians sometimes
have difficulty in associating this adverse
reaction with fluoroquinolone therapy. Hereditary Neuropathy Unmasked by Levaquin
Peripheral Neuropathies Can Last Forever
Peripheral neuropathy may occur either during treatment with Fluoroquinolones or months afterwards; and it may last months, years, or even be permanent. Fluoroquinolones cause peripheral neuropathy in various ways, including:
Excessive stimulation of the nerves by a neurotransmitter cascade
Yes, these things are as bad as they sound, and these same mechanisms are responsible for many of the other Fluoroquinolone Toxicity symptoms that can mimic so many other problems. Fluoroquinolone therapy is also known to affect the central nervous system, which may bring up serious adverse effects such as dizziness, headache, seizures, psychosis, and even Guillain Barré Syndrome; a rare auto-immune disorder where a person’s own immune system attacks the nerve cells, damaging them and causing muscle weakness and occasionally paralysis.
Most of these symptoms are vague and don’t match any known diseases or syndromes. Many times, those complaining of neuropathic pain have ‘normal’ nerve conduction tests, leading many doctors to dismiss these symptoms as being psychosomatic, or that they are being exaggerated to get disability or sympathy. But the numbers of people experiencing these vague symptoms has led new research to classify this vague set of symptoms as Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome, giving more legitimacy to the problem, so that awareness will be greater, and solutions might be found.
What Predisposes Someone to Getting Neurologic Damage?
These effects of Fluoroquinolones on the nervous system are not well known despite the multitude of studies showing these problems really do exist. While doctors are warned that the elderly, debilitated, and those with magnesium deficiency and other problems are more prone to these damaging side effects, in reality, those who get these serious side effects do not necessarily have these risk factors. Some of the most vocal of the injured, those who have started websites or provide testimony in Congress, are athletic younger people whose lives were shattered after just a few doses of these drugs.
It has also been documented that such effects are usually severe and enduring, causing pain, impairment of functioning, and even long-term disability. Yet Half of All Antibiotic Prescriptions are Unnecessary, and doctors often do not recognize, and even deny the existence of these painful problems, despite the black box warning, often leaving patients feeling isolated and abandoned.
It may be that those who are most likely to be injured are somehow more susceptible to their damaging effects because of ‘latent’ disease states 8, or particular genetic susceptibilities such as the MTHFR Gene, a common gene that leads to the improper processing of B vitamins which can lead to neuropathy by causing Vitamin B12 deficiency. But unfortunately, those who get injured are simply not studied enough to make any conclusive determinations about why they were injured while so many others were not.
If you are suffering from any of these peripheral neuropathies and believe that it might have been caused by the Fluoroquinolones, we suggest that you follow the protocol in the Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Solution book. Even if your peripheral neuropathy was NOT caused by the Fluoroquinolones, the protocol includes solutions to all of the main causes of peripheral neuropathy, and will walk you through how to improve you symptoms by resolving the underlying causes of your symptoms. We highly recommend giving it a try. With a money-back guarantee, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by the information you’ll learn.