On March 3, 2014, after returning from 3 days of winter mountaineering on Mount Washington with a reoccurring fever and no other symptoms, I was prescribed Levofloxacin for suspected pneumonia. Levofloxacin is a powerful broad spectrum antibiotic in the Fluoroquinolone class of antibiotics. I was given no warning of the potential, long-term serious side effects, that are well documented, in medical literature prompting 2 black box warnings from the the FDA, because my doctors were not aware. I thought I was being prescribed a “simple” antibiotic.
After taking the second pill I felt like I had swallowed razor blades. After the third pill my arms started to feel very weak and I called my family practice and was told to continue the antibiotics. After the ninth pill my arms went numb and I was instructed to stop the antibiotics and take ibuprofen and come to the office the next morning. I did as I was instructed and that night I woke to severe burning in my elbows that was terrifying. I later learned that ibuprofen is contraindicated with fluoroquinolone antibiotics. From there my health began to decline. I slowly lost my ability to walk and move without severe pain. My vision and hearing were both affected, my heart was affected, and I developed crushing fatigue. All of my tendons and nerves were damaged from the action of this potent antibiotic known to disrupt DNA synthesis.
I learned that the medical world had no support or help for me, and the millions of others suffering these side effects, because there is no researched based interventions to treat the damage from this class of antibiotics. My doctors could provide no prognosis for me. There is evidence and research to document the serious life changing side effects but no treatment is available. I had never felt so alone.
That is why I am dedicated to advocacy for greater awareness of the under recognized and very serious side effects associated with this class of antibiotics. We need to understand the damage they are doing to human health, limit their use to life threatening medical conditions only, and begin supporting research to develop treatment for the long-term side effects including the DNA and mitochondrial damage that can occur.