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Levaquin, also known as levofloxacin, is a popular antibiotic that’s often prescribed to treat bacterial infections of the skin, sinuses, kidneys or bladder. It’s also frequently used to treat bacterial infections caused by bronchitis or pneumonia. While the drug has been commonly prescribed for years and successfully treats most infections, it hasn’t been until recent years that all of its side effects have been made publicly known by the manufacturers. In particular, some of the side effects of Levaquin can be extremely dangerous and may lead to permanent tendon, nerve and skin damage.
What is Levaquin and why is it potentially dangerous?
Levaquin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that is prescribed for many purposes. Most commonly it is prescribed for bacterial infections either on the skin or having to do with the kidneys, liver, prostate or sinuses. It can also treat bronchitis and pneumonia as well as any possible exposure to anthrax.
It belongs to the class of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones. Antibiotics in this category kill bacteria by interfering with the DNA inside human cells. While such interference can swiftly kill bacteria and rid the body of an infection, it can also cause adverse side effects.
The most common side effects of Levaquin affect at least 3% of all patients and include minor symptoms such as nausea, headache, constipation and dizziness.
Rarely, Levaquin can also cause serious side effects. Some of the most serious side effects include:
- Peripheral neuropathy and other types of nerve damage
- Tendon injuries including tendon ruptures
- Skin/membrane blistering and peeling (symptoms often found in Stevens-Johnson Syndrome)
- Heart rhythm disorders similar to QT interval prolongation (commonly referred to as “Long QT syndrome”)
- Allergic reaction and hypersensitivity
- Central nervous system conditions including convulsions, toxic psychoses, increased intracranial pressure, light-headedness, hallucinations, confusion, insomnia, suicidal thoughts/actions and other behavioral changes
- Liver toxicity
- Blood sugar level changes
- Sensitivity to light
- Increased production of drug-resistant bacteria
What are the early symptoms?
There are numerous early symptoms of the serious side effects listed above. While taking Levaquin, you should stop using it and call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Signs of tendon rupture in any joints (sudden pain, swelling, tenderness, stiffness, bruising or snapping/popping noises). Note: This is most common in the Achilles tendon area of the heel.
- Nerve pain, numbness or increased sensitivity (to either temperature or touch)
- Headache when accompanied by chest pain and severe dizziness, fainting or rapid heartbeats
- Sudden weakness when accompanied by fever, chills, sore throat, mouth sores or increased tendency to bruise or bleed
- Seizures or increased cranial pressure (this can often include severe headaches, dizziness, a ringing sensation in the ears, nausea, pain or vision problems)
- Nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, tired feeling, loss of appetite, dark urine or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
- Muscle weakness/impaired breathing
- Watery/bloody diarrhea
- Depression, confusion, hallucinations, paranoia, body tremors, unusual anxiety or restlessness, insomnia or unusual thoughts or behaviors