Risk Factors for Fluoroquinolone Damage
What Risk Factors for Fluoroquinolone Toxicity should you be concerned about? If you take Levaquin, Cipro, Avelox, or any of the other Fluoroquinolone drugs, can you predict whether you will be someone who is going to be injured or receive damage from this class of drugs? Doctors check risk factors against these drugs to attempt to predict if you’ll be injured by some specific drugs, but is this really an effective way to determine someone’s risk? We’ll take a deep dive into this question.
But first, if you’re unfamiliar with the fact that the most commonly prescribed antibiotics in the United States can lead to serious health problems and even permanent disability, please read our page on the Introduction to Fluoroquinolones so that you can better understand why this site exists and the risks to anyone who chooses to take these drugs.
What are the Risk Factors for Fluoroquinolone Toxicity?
According to the medical profession, the ‘standard’ risk factors for Fluoroquinolone toxicity are just a few. They are:
- Being elderly (over 60)
- Magnesium Deficiency
- Previous tendon injuries
- Myasthenia Gravis
And that is about it. However, few of the people that get injured from these antibiotics had ANY of the risk factors. In fact, in one study, the US Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, found that only 24% of patients with Peripheral Neuropathy had the ‘doctor identified’ risk factors that would predispose them to Fluoroquinolone toxicity.
“Overall, this review did not identify any predictable
risk factors for peripheral neuropathy.” 1
Magnesium Deficiency as a Major Risk Factor
This study is misleading, though, since it’s impossible to know if people actually had magnesium deficiency because the Magnesium Bloood Tests used to detect magnesium deficiency don’t actually test magnesium deficiency!
You heard that right. EVEN IF doctors did a magnesium level before they gave these antibiotics, which they almost never do, they still wouldn’t know if you have magnesium deficiency because the blood test can’t tell you if you actually have magnesium deficiency!
Unfortunately, magnesium deficiency is extremely common, and so many people are magnesium deficient that some researchers call magnesium deficiency an ‘epidemic’, putting anyone who takes the Fluoroquinolone drugs at unknowing risk of injury.
While this study was specifically for peripheral neuropathy, we find that the normal doctor-stated risk factors simply do not have any validity with the Fluoroquinolones. Young, healthy people get FQ toxicity, and Even Athletes Might Be At Risk for Fluoroquinolone Toxicity.
In fact, another study showed that of all of the cases of tendon rupture associated with the Fluoroquinolones were in young people, “More than 69% of total cases of Achilles tendon rupture were men with a mean age of 48 years”2. This while the medical literature is claiming that only people over 60 are at risk! But that is both factually incorrect as well as meaningless, since doctors rarely, if ever, decide to forego giving a Fluoroquinolone drug to someone over 60 regardless of risk factors.
In our experience and from what other studies on the incidence of side effects have shown, we feel that medical science needs to look into new risk factors for Fluoroquinolone toxicity and ensure adequate interviews and testing are done before giving the Fluoroquinolones to anyone, including useful magnesium testing. We outline what we believe some of the more important risk factors for Fluoroquinolone toxicity are below in addition to the ones above.
Real Risk Factors for Fluoroquinolone Injury
Should tall people be given the Fluoroquinolone drugs? While this might sound like an April Fool’s joke, it’s actually a distinct possibility that tall people might be more predisposed to getting peripheral neuropathy, according to John’s Hopkins University.
3 Since Peripheral Neuropathy is an unquestionable possibility after taking these drugs, it might be worthwhile to question whether very tall people should be given these drugs.
It seems that the ‘energy centers’ of the cells, tiny organelles called mitochondria, have to ‘work their way’ down from the tops of the nerves to the bottoms of the nerves, so that the taller someone is, the older their mitochondria are by the time they reach the feet. Who would have thought? In any case, because these mitochondria in the lower extremities are older, hitting them with the mitochondrial disrupting Fluoroquinolones just adds insult to injury, causing further damage to these already decaying organelles that are responsible for the energy production in the cells.
This isn’t the only health problem that tall people are predisposed to. They are also at higher risk for a condition called ‘spontaneous pneumothorax’ where one or both of the lungs suddenly collapses, requiring an emergency hospital visit.
Since there have been other reports of spontaneous pneumothorax in fluoroquinolone users 4,5, it would be prudent to make being tall an official risk factor for having problems with the Fluoroquinolones, especially when in conjunction with the next risk factor of hypermobility.
Going along with the theme of being tall as a risk factor for Fluoroquinolone toxicity is hypermobility. Do you remember those kids that grossed you out in the schoolyard with being able to do things like twisting their limbs in all sorts of crazy positions? That’s hypermobility and, surprising to many with this condition, it’s actually diagnostic for having a connective tissue disorder. These people are often taller than average as well.
While the mild connective tissue disorders that cause hypermobility may not cause problems for people in their everyday life, it can definitely cause problems when they take the Fluoroquinolone antibiotics since these drugs attack vulnerable connective tissue, which can cause any variety of damage from Tendonitis to deadly Aortic Aneurysms.
The MTHFR Gene Is a Risk Factor for Fluoroquinolones
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While most people have never heard of this genetic mutation, it seems that it is becoming more and more ‘mainstream’ to have heard about this issue since the advent of the 23andMe genetic tests. The fact is that it’s quite prevalent in the population at large, and studies are being done to see if having it is a risk factor for other health problems.
When this genetic mutation is ‘turned on’, it prevents the body from turning B vitamins in food and supplements into their ‘active’ forms in the cells, and prevents some forms of detoxification in the body. This creates a weird situation where people can have symptoms of both too much and too little B vitamins at the same time.
In the end, it’s important to understand that this inability to convert the B Vitamins into their active forms creates an intracellular nutritional deficiency and less effective detoxification, predisposing people who take the Fluoroquinolones to worse cellular damage than would otherwise have occurred with adequately nourished cells.
Taking Specific Medications
There are many medications that can make you more susceptible to damage from the Fluoroquinolone antibiotics. The major two classes of drugs that can interact with the FQ’s to cause severe issues are:
- Steroidal antiinflammatories such as cortisone and prednose
- NSAID drugs like Ibuprofen
These two classes of drugs predispose people who take the Fluoroquinolones to worse damage and injury than they normally would otherwise. It is absolutely in all of the drug literature that these two classes of drugs can ‘potentiate’ problems from the Fluoroquinolones6, yet it is extremely common for one or even both of these drugs to be given at the same time as a Fluoroquinolone, despite the known interactions of increased risk of damage.
Celecoxib does not induce convulsions nor does it affect GABAA receptor binding activity in the presence of new quinolones in mice
Some NSAID’s… induced convulsions in combination with the majority of the new quinolones tested. γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA)A receptor blockade-mediated neuronal excitation is assumed to be involved in these toxic convulsions.
It’s incredibly negligent that doctors are engaging in this type of dangerous polypharmacy that puts people at such high risk of injury. And don’t count on the pharmacist catching such irresponsible prescribing, the pharmacies in the US don’t seem interested that these combinations of drugs are dangerous drug interactions. The vast majority of people taking these drug combinations report that pharmacists simply fill your prescription and send you on your way without any warnings of what taking these drugs together can do to your body.
Being an Athlete
These drugs don’t seem to discriminate for those that have the supposed ‘risk factors’ that doctors claim are important, and they will prey on anyone; even seemingly healthy people such as athletes. While healthy athletes would seem to be the last people who would be injured by these drugs, unfortunately that is not the case, and there are some good reasons why they are at extra risk.
Athletes tend to be at extra risk because of at many different factors:
- Magnesium Deficiency
- Oxidative stress
- Connective tissue damage
- Iron Deficiency is a risk factor for Fluoroquinolone damage
We go over the specifics of these and why they are damaging on the Are Athletes at Extra Risk of Fluoroquinolone Toxicity page.
Being a Woman
Lastly, just being a woman seems to put one at extra risk for damage by these drugs. While the reason for this isn’t at all clear, we do know that women are impacted by chronic illness and autoimmune disease at far higher rates than men. 7
In the case of the Fluoroquinolones, part of this difference could be that they bind to and reduce the circulating amount of iron in the bloodstream, as we mention on the Iron and Fluoroquinolones page. 8 Since women have less iron to begin with, this effect would naturally negatively effect those who are borderline low to begin with, and that is usually women.
These are serious concerns for those who might be taking these drugs, yet they are seldom, if ever, discussed in the medical world despite the evidence from studies and from citizen collected science being in abundance for doctors and researchers who are interested to find. But that’s just it, they aren’t interested and it’s the public who suffers.
Please let me know what you think in the comments below.
As we always recommend, please understand all of Drug Side Effects of any pharmaceutical drug you have to take. And if you do have to take antibiotics, be sure that you absolutely need them, preferably by getting a test called a Culture and Sensitivity.
If you absolutely do need antibiotics, get an alternative to the fluoroquinolone drugs whenever possible. But if you must take a fluoroquinolone and you end up suffering from any of the symptoms of Fluoroquinolone Toxicity, we highly recommend following the protocol in the Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Solution book. With a money-back guarantee, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by the information you’ll learn.
Research Used in This Article
- FDA Pharmicovigilance Report 2013 on the fluoroquinolone antibiotics ↩
- Musculoskeletal Complications of Fluoroquinolones: Guidelines and Precautions for Usage in the Athletic Population ↩
- Feet First? Old Mitochondria Might Be Responsible For Neuropathy In The Extremities ↩
- Spontaneous pneumothorax: a rare complication of ciprofloxacin in a child ↩
- Use of Fluoroquinolones Is Associated with Increased Risk for Nontraumatic Spontaneous Pneumothorax-A Population-based Study in a National Representative Cohort ↩
- Celecoxib does not induce convulsions nor does it affect GABAA receptor binding activity in the presence of new quinolones in mice ↩
- Sex differences in Autoimmune Disease ↩
- Nonantibiotic Effects of Fluoroquinolones in Mammalian Cells ↩
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