Levaquin side-effects
June 8, 2008 2:29 PM   Subscribe

How worried should I be about the side effects of this medicine?

I went to a walk-in clinic yesterday where the doctor prescribed me 7 doses of Levaquin, an anti-biotic. Today I came across this site which is a little unnerving.

from the page:
"I was prescribed Levaquin for a sinus infection. I took it for 9 days. I could not sleep but worse than that I got pain in my knees."

"My heart was racing, my eyes wouldnt stay closed, my ears were ringing all night. I am NOT taking this medication any more, and personally i would recomend the FDA take this pill off the market."

I don't have any drug allergies that I know of. It was a short consultation and the doctor didn't really educate me about the drug.. I'm a bit of a hypochondriac and have a hard time staying rational when reading about malaise.

Do most drugs have negative reviews like this?
Will I be fine? So far I haven't noticed anything abnormal, but I've only taken one dose.

posted by mrunderhill to Health & Fitness (17 answers total)
i've taken it before and was fine. antibiotics tend to kill off the good bacteria in your gut, so you may find your stomach a little upset, but it'll go away when you finish the course. so the main thing to worry about is staying hydrated. also, take all the pills, even if you feel better after a couple of days.
posted by thinkingwoman at 2:37 PM on June 8, 2008

thanks, good to hear about a good experience with levaquin.
posted by mrunderhill at 2:41 PM on June 8, 2008

Most people who post online about medication are those who have a bad time with it. No one goes online and posts about how their sinus medication worked exactly like the doctor said it would. You're far more likely to hear the worst case scenario when researching drugs online.

I take Cipro when I need an antibiotic because I'm mildly allergic to penicillin. There's all kinds of 'dangerous' side effects to Cipro, but the only effects I've had are the end of whatever bug I've got and the ability to play in Anthrax with no worries.

As thinking woman said, you're probably going to have some stomach upset. That's a side effect of all Antibiotics because they do not differentiate between good bacteria and bad. So, stop by your health food store & pick up some probiotics which will introduce good bacteria back into your system.
posted by aristan at 2:48 PM on June 8, 2008

Upset stomach was the only side effect I had while I was on levaquin, like the others said.
posted by vincele at 2:49 PM on June 8, 2008

Keep in mind too that those reports are to a place asking people if they've experienced side-effects. You won't read about the X zillion number of people who took the drug but experienced no side-effects, because those people have nothing to report. If you're worried that you might not be able to distinguish a "bad" effect from a "normal" one (like - upset stomach: normal for many people taking antibiotics; rash - can indicate allergic reaction, consult your doc; etc.), you can talk to your local pharmacist, who probably has a pamphlet s/he can give you, and can also answer your questions. And yes, finish the full course.
posted by rtha at 2:51 PM on June 8, 2008

Most people who post online about medication are those who have a bad time with it. No one goes online and posts about how their sinus medication worked exactly like the doctor said it would.

This is 100% true. Considering all the health issues Ive had since the dawn of medical web forums and newsgroups, its pretty easy to look back and realize I was just scaring myself with worst-case scenarios. Sounds like you're getting good at that too. Most likely you are hearing about the worst 1%. There's always a chance youre going to have problems, but you shouldnt use the web as a metric for this.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:54 PM on June 8, 2008

Levaquin is a great medication. Don't worry about anecdotal reports like this. First of all you have no idea if what that person posted is even true. Secondly, even if it is true you have no idea if Levaquin caused those effects. Thirdly, even if it is true and Levaquin caused it, it was almost certainly an atypical reaction.

This is what clinical trials are for and what a random anonymous stranger posting on the internet is not for.
posted by Justinian at 3:03 PM on June 8, 2008

All medicine has side effects. I tend to suffer from side effects more often than most and the best thing to do is read the information that came with the medication and call the doctor as indicated. If you didn't get an info packet, go to the manufacturers website and it will be there.
posted by fshgrl at 3:13 PM on June 8, 2008

Thanks guys. I am reassured :)
posted by mrunderhill at 3:17 PM on June 8, 2008

Levaquin, among a host of other meds, can cause photosensitivity reaction. So wear sunscreen and try to stay out of the sun if you have had a photosensitivity reaction in the past. The first time I took Levaquin I had a terrible photosensitivity reaction. It wasn't pretty.
posted by LoriFLA at 3:30 PM on June 8, 2008

Levaquin was created specifically to address poor penetration of antibiotics into the sinus cavities. I've had it many times for chronic sinusitis, and it's worked great for me.
posted by answergrape at 3:52 PM on June 8, 2008

I've had Levaquin a bunch of times-- once for a month straight, for the Sinus Infection That Would Not Die-- with no problems.

OTOH, a friend of mine had it in rather higher doses and experienced tendon rupture syndrome, which is associated with fluoroquinolone use.

Your doctor makes the best treatment call he or she can, acting on the information given and your presentation. It's up to you to do your own research and determine how comfortable you are with the level of risk involved in the treatment, whatever it is.

Also, don't forget that your pharmacist is a good source of information if you have concerns over side effects/ drug interactions/ etc.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 4:48 PM on June 8, 2008

I was prescribed levofloxacin for a respiratory infection which had already survived a Z-Pack, and managed to get myself all worked up reading the same horror stories. Nothing bad happened beyond mild stomach upset, and I felt good as new in about 36 hours (don't worry, I finished the script anyway).
posted by pullayup at 5:25 PM on June 8, 2008

Some people get crazily preachy about their very individual experience on a particular drug. For example, many people have used Effexor successfully, but any time it gets brought up, even here on Metafilter, you'll see a bunch of edge-cases come in screeching that it's a hell-drug that causes total nightmare withdrawal and OMG it must be taken off the market. Often people who've had negative experiences forget that side effects can vary greatly by individual and that what works for them might not work for others and vice-versa. In other words: try not to worry. Read the official statistics for the drug's side effects and you'll find the serious ones are rare and possibly even unrelated to the drug itself (but reported because they were experienced during the drug trials, even if the origin of the problem was unclear.)
posted by loiseau at 8:31 PM on June 8, 2008

My boyfriend developed tendonitis a few weeks ago, while taking Levaquin. The thing about my boyfriend is that he refers to himself as being in "the 1%." He's taken many different medications in his life and he frequently suffers from unusual side effects. We didn't even know the tendon thing was a possible side effect until he complained about his foot to the doctor, so it wasn't a psychosomatic thing.

I am not trying to be crazily preachy, to quote loiseau, but I did want to offer it as a data point. That said, even after his experience I would have no qualms personally about taking Levaquin if my doctor felt that I needed it.
posted by cabingirl at 9:15 PM on June 8, 2008

All, repeat all, meds carry side effects. Levaquin has a bit more of a side effect profile than other antibiotics, but it is also one of the most effective antibiotics around. I do believe that the tendon issue is more common than reported, and I believe this is so because only the severe cases which cause rupture etc. are reported. I know many people (yes, this is hardly scientific) who have experienced sore tendons after taking this, and of course I was one. I thought I was just being a hypochondriac at first, after having read about all the possible side effects. However, after three days the pain became intense and I stopped the drug. I could not walk more than a hundred yards for about a month and minor pain persisted for a year. Three days of Levaquin, though, cured a sinus infection that three other antibiotics barely affected. If you have any tendon pain call your doctor. Don't let this scare you either, as I believe that if you experience this side effect yet stop taking the drug everything will be fine.
posted by caddis at 5:06 AM on June 9, 2008

I'm the friend of Fairytale who had the rupture (at least I think I am) - it was my achilles tendon, partial tear in the center of the tendon, and my podiatrist told me it was the Levoquin issue.

See, earlier that year, I'd had a severe torso pain, went to the hospital at 4 AM, and five hours later they told me I needed my gall bladder removed. They put me on it after I got out of surgery, and I was taking it for a couple weeks afterwards. It was a high dose, as the result of, well, having an organ removed.

So I would be careful.

Also, if you get that kind of pain, see your doctor immediately. ESPECIALLY if you already have a podiatrist. The pain hit me on wake-up on Saturday, I went in Monday, he looked, felt, and nodded. Then he explained the situation, dropped some novocaine in there, did some massage stuff (manipulating it back into place), then gave me a cast to immobilize the tendon while it healed. It took two weeks to heal up (I moved in that timeframe, too, with the softcast on), and I haven't had a problem since with it. The problem is painful, but treatable if you go early.
posted by mephron at 9:38 AM on June 24, 2008

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