Not all Antibiotics are Created Equally
Most people are aware of the fact that many antibiotics (especially penicillin and sulfa antibiotics) can cause allergic reactions – some of which are serious and potentially deadly. Many people are also aware of diarrhea, upset stomach and even c-difficile as potential side-effects of antibiotics. But most people aren’t aware that the side-effects of some antibiotics include destruction of cartilage and tendons throughout the body, seizures, hallucinations, depression, peripheral neuropathy, urticaria and many other severe reactions for which there are few treatments; and when they occur simultaneously make up a multi-symptom, chronic illness. Not all antibiotics can cause a multi-symptom, difficult to treat, chronic syndrome that includes the frightening side-effects listed (and more). Unfortunately, and frighteningly, some can though. The kind of antibiotics that can hurt children (and adults) by causing those symptoms are fluoroquinolone antibiotics – Cipro/Ciprofloxacin, Levaquin/Levofloxacin, Avelox/Moxifloxacin and Floxin/Ofloxacin.
The 43 page warning label for Cipro goes over some of the adverse effects of fluoroquinolones noted – but it fails to mention that many of the side-effects listed can happen simultaneously, that they don’t go away after administration of the drug has stopped, or that the drug can convert an acute health problem – an infection, into a chronic multi-symptom illness – fluoroquinolone toxicity syndrome – an illness that can last months, years, or a lifetime.
To put it as simply as possible, fluoroquinolone toxicity syndrome involves damage to connective tissue (tendons, ligaments, cartilage, fascia, etc.) throughout the body, damage to the nervous systems (central, peripheral and autonomic), and more. An article going over the basics of fluoroquinolone toxicity can be found HERE, links and resources, including 100+ peer-reviewed journal articles about fluoroquinolone toxicity can be found HERE, and stories of pain and suffering experienced by those who are going through fluoroquinolone toxicity can be found HERE.
If you look through the stories of pain and suffering linked to above, you will note that these drugs brought strong, healthy adults to their knees. Some of the people hurt by fluoroquinolones are in their 20s and 30s, many of them are athletes. If these drugs can leave an athletic 25 year old unable to walk or think, can you imagine what it might do to a small child?
Fluoroquinolones are Given to Children – Despite Contraindications
“Fluoroquinolones have demonstrated adverse effects on cartilage development in juvenile animals through the inflammation and destruction of weight-bearing joints. These arthropathies were often irreversible, and their potential occurrence in children limited the use of fluoroquinolones in this population. In one pediatric study, ciprofloxacin had a 3.3% (9.3% vs. 6.0%) absolute risk increase in musculoskeletal events within 6 weeks of treatment compared with control agents used to treat complicated UTIs or pyelonephritis. Adefurin and colleagues found a 57% increased relative risk of arthropathy in children given ciprofloxacin (21% overall) versus those in a non-fluoroquinolone comparator arm. In contrast to animal models, neither dose nor duration had an effect on the rate or severity of arthropathy. A 2007 study by Noel and colleagues determined the incidence of musculoskeletal events (primarily arthralgias) to be greater in children treated with levofloxacin compared with nonfluoroquinolone-treated children at 2 months (2.1% vs. 0.9%; P = .04) and 12 months (3.4% vs. 1.8%; P = .03). These results and the severity of the effects should be weighed heavily when initiation of fluoroquinolones is being contemplated in pediatric patients.” (source)
To summarize, fluoroquinolones can cause irreversible musculoskeletal harm and in doing so, they can put an end to your child’s days of running, jumping, playing soccer, skiing, dancing, etc. Think about that for a second – a drug – an antibiotic no less – can cause permanent damage to the musculoskeletal system of a child.
In addition to the horrible musculoskeletal adverse effects of fluoroquinolones, they also have multiple mental side-effects. Just a small sample of the mental side-effects of fluoroquinolones listed on the FDA warning label for cipro/ciprofloxacin are, “dizziness, confusion, tremors, hallucinations, depression, and, rarely, psychotic reactions have progressed to suicidal ideations/thoughts and self-injurious behavior such as attempted or completed suicide.” No loving parent would want their child to experience any of those things.
If Cipro Can Tear Down a 32 Year Old, Imagine What it Can Do to a 3 Year Old
FDA warning labels are official and credible, but people tend to assume that what is listed on the warning label won’t happen to them or their children. So, to make things a bit more personal, I’ll tell you what happened to me when I was a strong and healthy (other than a urinary tract infection) 32 year old. After taking Cipro, I could barely walk. My feet and hands were swollen to the point that it hurt to use them. My legs became weak and my muscles simply didn’t work. I lost my flexibility and balance. My tendons were inflamed and painful. I was exhausted and if felt as if I had a constant flu. I had hives/urticaria all over my body. I was anxious, depressed and scared. I lost cognitive skills – my memory, reading comprehension, concentration, motivation and ability to connect with other people in a conversation. This went on, to varying degrees (I got worse for a period of time, then I slowly got better – with some bumps in the road) for 18 long and frightening months.
I dealt with the ordeal of having my body and mind fall apart quite badly, despite having 32 years of coping skills built up. Children haven’t built up the capacity to deal with pain, fear, depression, anxiety, loss of motivation, loss of physical capacity, etc. I can only imagine how frightening it would be for a child to go through even a portion of what I went through and, believe it or not, my reaction was not as severe as many.
Under-recognition of Adverse Effects: Delayed Reactions,Tolerance Thresholds and More
Adverse reactions to fluoroquinolones are often delayed (they can occur weeks or months after administration of the drug has stopped) and there is a tolerance threshold for them (meaning that people can tolerate fluoroquinolones up to their personal threshold and only fall ill after their threshold is crossed). Because of these features of fluoroquinolone toxicity, and because of the absurdity of a prescription antibiotic causing a multi-symptom chronic illness, adverse effects of fluoroquinolones are under-recognized. No one really knows how common adverse reactions are. People say that adverse reactions are rare; but if delayed effects, tolerance thresholds, multiple exposures and even individual genetic profiles aren’t being taken into consideration, how would they know? And how is a parent (or doctor) supposed to know how much of a risk these drugs pose to a child? These variables are too hard to know enough about, so I suggest that every parent reading this err on the side of caution and avoid Cipro/Ciprofloxacin, Levaquin/Levofloxacin, Avelox/Moxifloxacin and Floxin/Ofloxacin in all situations that are not life-threatening.
If you have a child who has a mysterious multi-symptom illness (which can, admittedly, have many causes), I suggest that you look through his or her medical records. Despite the official contraindication in the pediatric population, children are given fluoroquinolones all the time. They often come as ear and eye drops, in addition to pills and IVs.
Protecting Your Children
Please be careful with your babies. Know that there are some dangerous drugs out there. One category of dangerous drugs is fluoroquinolone antibiotics – again, Cipro/Ciprofloxacin, Levaquin/Levofloxacin, Avelox/Moxifloxacin and Floxin/Ofloxacin (they have different names in different countries and ear and eye drops also often have different names – please ask a pharmacist if a drug is a fluoroquinolone before taking it). Iatrogenic multi-symptom chronic illness is not something that you want inflicted on your child and, as absurd as it may be, multi-symptom chronic illness can be the result of taking a fluoroquinolone antibiotic.
As someone who has experienced fluoroquinolone toxicity, I cannot begin to express the horror of thinking of a child going through what I experienced. It was as if a bomb had gone off in my body and mind. Everything fell apart at once. It was terrifying. The thought of a child going through what I went through is even more terrifying though. I hope that Moms and Dads who read this heed my warning and keep their children far, far away from these drugs. They are too harsh and too dangerous for children.
I wish all parents the best of luck in keeping their babies safe. Staying away from fluoroquinolone antibiotics is one thing that can be done. There are safer antibiotics available. Please use them, and keep your children away from fluoroquinolones if at all possible.
Information about Fluoroquinolone Toxicity
Information about the author, and adverse reactions to fluoroquinolone antibiotics (Cipro/ciprofloxacin, Levaquin/levofloxacin, Avelox/moxifloxacin and Floxin/ofloxacin) can be found on Lisa Bloomquist’s site, www.floxiehope.com.
Participate in Research
Hormones Matter is conducting research on the side effects and adverse events associated with the fluoroquinolone antibiotics, Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox and others: The Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics Side Effects Study. The study is anonymous, takes 20-30 minutes to complete and is open to anyone who has used a fluoroquinolone antibiotic. Please complete the study and help us understand the scope of fluoroquinolone reactions.
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