Throughout the year on social media, certain posts reach viral status. Just recently, a post re-emerged after laying dormant for several months. It was originally published in March 2017 and is making the rounds again. The Mountains and Mustard Seeds blog post entitled "This Antibiotic Will Ruin You" has been shared on Facebook 2.1 million times and views climb north of 12 million. The story has been picked up by news sites and health blogs across the internet. So, what's the story on Fluoroquinolone antibiotics? What's the truth?
What is a Fluoroquinolone Antibiotic?
These antibiotic medications are considered broad-spectrum, which means they're used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infection. Some brand names that you might have heard of from television ads or from your doctor or pharmacy include Cipro and Levaquin. These are fluoroquinolone antibiotics. These and other fluoroquinolone antibiotics have treated many infections successfully, bringing patients a return to health without any problems.
FDA Warnings and Updates
If the medication works well, what is the problem? Like every drug on the market in the U.S., the FDA takes adverse reports and studies seriously. Just as we reported about Essure's new box label and distribution guidelines, it's our goal to bring the truth to the conversation about fluoroquinolone antibiotics.
A 2016 FDA Safety Announcement states:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved changes to the labels of fluoroquinolone antibacterial drugs for systemic use (i.e., taken by mouth or by injection). These medicines are associated with disabling and potentially permanent side effects of the tendons, muscles, joints, nerves, and central nervous system that can occur together in the same patient. As a result, we revised the Boxed Warning, FDA’s strongest warning, to address these serious safety issues. We also added a new warning and updated other parts of the drug label, including the patient Medication Guide...
Where these drugs used to be widely used to treat urinary tract infections, skin infections, sinus infections, and more, they're now only recommended by the FDA for certain conditions. In fact, the warning to physicians is that fluoroquinolones should not be prescribed when other treatments are possible because the risk outweighs the benefit. Particularly, other treatments are recommended for common infections such as sinusitis, bronchitis, and UTIs. If you have any of these ailments and your physician mentions an antibiotic, make sure to ask what kind of antibiotic, and whether its the best option.
Take Warnings and Labels Seriously
The FDA, drug manufacturers, pharmacies, and doctors do their job until the medication makes it to your hands. Then the job is yours. Read all information given with your medication by your doctor and your pharmacist as well as the information provided by the manufacturer. If you are unaware of adverse reactions, you may not seek medical help until serious damage has occurred. If your doctor prescribes a fluoroquinolone to treat your infection, he or she has determined the benefits outweigh the risks. That does not mean you will avoid serious side effects, so it's especially important that you stay vigilant and look for symptoms that range from tendon rupture and tendinitis as indicated in the blogger's story, to extreme side effects such as depression.
Do not get caught up in trendy or viral opinions that may affect your health and medical treatment. It's always best to consult a licensed physician or pharmacist, as well as do your own research where your health is concerned.