This week we are going to talk about antibiotics, and in particular warn you about a class that can be toxic.
Antibiotics can certainly save lives, and it can also make your life miserable because of side effects.
In my opinion, the overuse of antibiotics in the medical profession is a problem. Overuse can lead to resistance, which means they may not work when you need them to.
At the same time, I do believe that antibiotics are a big reason people are living longer. Because of antibiotics, infections don’t kill as many people as they used to. This makes them a great thing.
Today, I want to warn you about a particular class of antibiotics that I think should only be used as a last resort.
Back in the 80’s, they added a fluoride molecule to the previous class called Quinolones. What this did was basically super charge them.
Fluoroquinolones work by making that molecule more soluble in oil rich tissue, so it can penetrate the nervous system and blood brain barrier.
Fluoroquinolones are commonly known as Cipro, Levaquin, and Avalox. And there are some serious side effects that are associated with taking these medications.
They are well known to cause tendon rupture, especially Achilles tendons. So I especially try to avoid these in athletes, or in people who work out quite a bit. This can happen right after starting one, or long after you finish taking it.
Tendon damage may be just the tip of the iceberg though.
The thing is, it’s not just tendons that can rupture. It can affect all connective tissues, including arteries which can form aneurysms and rupture. That can be deadly.
Let me explain how this class of antibiotics works.
It can wreck your DNA. It causes your bacterial DNA to become unstranded or unraveled, which is how it kills the bacteria.
The problem is that it gets into your mitochondria (the part of your cells that provides energy). It can unwind your mitochondria as well.
This is a bad thing.
It can also cause neurological problems as well as tendon damage. This is known as being “Floxed”. Its rare, but I’ve seen patients that this has happened to.
Note that these side effects are not common, and I use these antibiotics. I just reserve them as a last resort.
Here are some other minor side effects:
- Can cause hypoglycemia
When To Use Them
Fluoroquinolones are a broad spectrum antibiotic. It usually kills about 99% of the bacteria. It’s an effective antibiotic.
Because it kills 99% of the bacteria, it can also be rough on your GI Tract. I always tell people to make sure you’re taking a probiotic, but especially take them while you’re on an antibiotic.
I’ve tempered the use of them the last few years in my practice.I only will prescribe them when necessary. They should be a third line therapy, not a first or second line therapy.
The main point is to be very cautious when you’re prescribed this class of antibiotic.
Don’t immediately go to Cipro for bladder infections, or Levaquin for bronchitis or pneumonia.
These need to be reserved for patients who have no alternative treatments available.