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  • Writer's pictureThe Gaudie

Adverse side-effects: a result of taking common antibiotic

Commonly prescribed type of antibiotics, fluoroquinolones, has recently been discovered to cause heart problems, among other adverse side effects.

Photo coutesy of Pixabay (Pexels)

by Nidhiyaa Anagananthan

Oral fluoroquinolones are a broad range of antibiotics including Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox, etc., normally prescribed for conditions including rheumatic fever, strep throat, and endocarditis. Fluoroquinolones are the third most commonly prescribed drug in the United States. However, there have a been multiple complaints of their adverse side effects since the early 1980s.

A recent study conducted by the University of British Colombia revealed that oral fluoroquinolone drugs may lead to adverse side effects including aortic aneurysm and cardiac arrhythmias. They are widely prescribed due to their capabilities of high oral absorption and tackling a wider range of bacterial infections, including those in respiratory and urinary tracts. However, in light of recent findings, further warnings have been issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on all fluoroquinolones.

A recent study conducted by University of British Colombia revealed that oral fluroquinolone drugs may lead to adverse side effects including aortic aneurysm and cardiac arrhythmias.

The study conducted an analysis using the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Adverse Events (FAERS) database on reported cases of valvular regurgitation based on fluoroquinolones and non-fluoroquinolones administrations. 12,502 antibiotic users were compared against 1259,020 healthy controls and other types of antibiotic users. The findings revealed an alarming 240 percent higher risk of valve regurgitation for fluoroquinolones than amoxicillin, an alternative for the drug.

The exposure to fluoroquinolones less than 2 months prior showed higher risks, but the risks declined with time. Those who had taken the drug past a two-month period ceased showing any risks.  This is not the first study, however, conducted on adverse side effects of this particular class of antibiotics. Previous studies have reported cases of nerve damage called peripheral neuropathy, which is linked to impairment in nerves that send information to and from the brain.

 “This adds to the long list of rare but serious events that happen with fluoroquinolones,” said the lead author, Dr. Mahyar Etminan, Associate professor of Ophthalmology at the University of British Columbia. “These drugs should be reserved for situations where nothing else can be used and the benefits outweigh the risks.”

 The consequences of prescribing fluoroquinolones have been the focus of various research, but they are still widely prescribed. The cheap cost and effectiveness of the antibiotics make it easier for doctors to prescribe and patients to consume. However, surely and slowly, hospitals are starting to choose more appropriate treatments overprescribing any unnecessary antibiotics.

 Stewardship programs may be the key to controlling drug prescription and to increase patient outcomes. While they have been around for decades, recent findings have initiated a higher level of care. The only remaining step may be to create awareness among patients so that they will be able to advocate for themselves. 


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