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Antibiotic caused relapse - argh

So… Really just need to vent. Been functioning at about 80% on verapamil. Added in 200 mg of gabapentin a few weeks ago and was thinking I might be feeling a tad better with no SEs from the new med. Got a new job teaching this fall that’s been REALLY stressful, but doesn’t seem to have escalated the VM. Well, then I got sick the week before Thanksgiving. Strep/Sinus Infection/Bronchitis/Bacterial infection. Took 2 weeks of Augmentin and 6 days of prednisone and still wasn’t better (fever, etc came back). 4 weeks into being sick, my GP prescribed a second antibiotic. Levaquin. I didn’t like the black box warning so I asked for something “less risky.” She actually told me it was “not risky at all.” So against my better judgement I took it for 5 days instead of fighting for something else. About 1/2 way through, my visual vertigo ramped up, my brain fog ramped up, and the chronic tingling in my toes increased. Of course, I just chalked it up to being sick for 5 weeks. Well, here I am now, a week after having stopped taking the levaquin, and my head’s still messed up! And the more I read about levaquin the more I’m convinced that’s what’s responsible for my current issues. Anyone have any similar issues with a med like this ramping up their VM? I don’t know how I’m going to function at work when I go back in a week if this doesn’t tone back down again… To say nothing of needing to be able to function well before then in order to grade (literally) hundreds of papers that I’m behind on. And do report cards! ARGH.

im really sorry to hear this thats awful. how long have u been on the verapamil for? who prescribes that for you? can u call that dr. and ask them about levaquin and what effect that can have on your balance? i really hope things turn around for you soon!

what did the black box warning say on the levaquin? did it come with a leaflet inside that talks about the side effects etc.? did it say anything about vestibular effects?

try not to read stuff online on random sites about levaquin- you could literally google any drug and then put balance in the search and something scary would come up. just saying because i have done this and i literally scare the crap out of myself!

As an anecdote, Levaquin may have directly transformed my lightheadedness into a constant unidirectional tilting sensation. From what I gather, there is a possibility that it either directly damaged my right ear or disrupted the natural healing process of existing damage. It is not a nice drug in other respects as well; it made me feel like I had 10 cups of espresso the entire next day after just one pill (discontinued immediately after that one pill!). :shock:

Based on that stimulant effect I could see it easily ramping up anxiety in persons already susceptible to it.

Levaquin, without a doubt, increased that horrible rocking/dysequilibrium sensation. Last spring, I took one dose, and a couple hours later, I felt like I was on a boat in high seas. I was quite surprised by this reaction and promptly stopped taking the prescription…

sarahd - the warnings on Levaquin are pretty serious (it can produce all sorts of long-term problems that don’t even show up for weeks or months after you’ve taken the med). And the number of folks who’ve had issues is quite significant. Honestly, if I hadn’t felt as lousy as I did, I’d have insisted on something from another class of antibiotics. These are notoriously dangerous. (Several have already been pulled off the market.) As for the Verapamil, I’m on 80 mg 3x/day. I’ve been on it for 2 years now. It takes the edge off things, but hasn’t fixed me. My neuro has already said she’s running out of ideas so I don’t know if she’d know how to fix the ramped up vertigo from the levaquin. (As with so many other meds, it does list vertigo as a potential SE. It’s so hard to tell, though, what sets it off, that when things ramped up for me I wasn’t sure it was the levaquin. I’m pretty convinced now, though, as I’ve not had it ramp up like this and not back down.)

whitepines - sorry to hear about your levaquin experience! i have to say, for the first week or so after taking it, I could be laying back on the sofa and yet feel like I was plunging forward. all around a horrible drug.

KennedyLane - how long did it take for you to get back to your baseline? (Wondering if I have any hope of being back to “normal” by Monday - when school starts back and when it’ll have been 2 weeks off the levaquin - or if I really did myself in by taking all 5 pills…)

Erika,

I felt better and back to baseline the next day after stopping the AB… Hope you feel better soon…

I just looked into problems associated with this class of drugs, which I was given for over a month before the start of my problems, and a lot of it matches perfectly with my symptoms. I also have been getting tendonitis and feel like if I exercise, nowithstanding the vertigo, I might break. I am always feeling little tears with seemingly normal movements, and my joints are popping all the time. Anxiety and sleep problems I never had before. Vision problems. I thought it was just from inactivity and stress due to the vertigo, but now I am seeing this in a new light.

The discussion of toxicity from this drug talks a lot about Gaba receptors being blocked, which is also something often discussed on this forum as well. I was told this drug was “safe” and when I returned to the DR with these new symptoms, he said there is no way the infection I had would cause any of the problems I now have. But I didn’t know to ask about the drug I was prescribed and he didn’t offer that as a possibility.

I understand it may be that a MAV constitution makes one susceptible to this reaction to the medication, but so many people are migraine-susceptible! Anyhow, from what I have read so far online, it seems like the remedy is very similar to steps we are taking here – recommendations of magnesium, antiinflammatory and calming agents and a lot of time, rest and hope.

I’ve been on that class of antibiotics a number of times (penicillins are out for me, so those tend to be the next choice). The really majorly serious side effects are very rare, and a lot of meds are just as scary when you look at the side effects. That said, Levaquin, Cipro, etc. always make me more dizzy when I am on them, but it eases once I quit. Someone has to be that 1 in a million chance, but depending on your infection the risks of letting it go untreated are probably worse. It’s a choice you have to make and if you aren’t comfortable with that class, insist on something else.

P.S. I can’t stand it when doctors say “not risky at all” or “no side effects”. Come on, people. ANYTHING has the potential for side effects.

If you’ve had Cipro before, your risk of having the supposedly rare side effects goes up.
Or maybe you are already having one of the neurological side effects.
Anyhow, unless you’ve been exposed to Anthrax, which is what Cipro is for, you don’t necessarily need it. And Levaquin is even stronger, so I don’t know what on earth anyone was thinking when they made that. Your choice is not to go untreated, but to have another treatment. With all the new governmental warnings out this year, we should all be wary of this class of drugs. There are alternatives, even if you are allergic to penicillin, and the one we always seem to forget is not to use antibiotics prophylactically. Unfortunately, if any of us ever really do get exposed to anthrax, there might not be anything that works against it anymore.

I hear ya, antibiotic resistance is a huge issue. Part of me not responding to other antibiotics is thanks to recurrent “sinus infections” (hello, misdiagnosed migraines!) as a child. I think the medical field is getting better about not handing out antibiotics like candy, but there is still room for improvement. I cringe when I hear antibiotics were given because the patient insisted on them. I won’t even go to the doctor for things like colds/flus unless it has been dragging on for a month and getting progressively worse. I’d rather save my copay for some honey tea and an on demand movie, thank you very much :slight_smile:

DFL, I gave penicillin a try again after it was no problem. I developed a rash as a baby, but now I’m fine. Just something to think about.
As for doctors giving patients heavy meds because the latter asked for them – that’s outrageous and they should not be practising medicine. Have they no integrity?!

Cipro and Levaquin are fluoroquinolones. They have fluoride added to them to make them stronger. Subsequent fluoride exposure might also be adding to neurological symptoms.

I found it rather ironic that the same doctor that told me that Levaquin was perfectly safe, later told me that when I first messaged her about having leg pain was concerned about a ruptured tendon due to the Levaquin! (Turned out that the pain was a blood clot the entire length of my calf thanks to the birth control pills - grrr - but still… if that was her first thought, then I’m thinking she knew the Levaquin was less than “perfectly safe” to take.)

And to answer my own initial question - yes, the relapse did slowly wear off. I think after about 3 weeks or so, I was back to my baseline of vertigo issues.

erika sorry to hear about the blood clot that is terrible! glad to hear your vertigo is back to baseline again. antibiotics are something i think most people have no idea about but can have really scary side effects…it makes it hard to trust drs. for sure- pharmacists often know more about these drugs then our drs. do.

Yeah, I was really “lucky” in regards to the blood clot. Apparently I was walking around with that for weeks. At the beginning of Dec. when I was sick as a dog (bronchitis, sinusitis, laryngitis) - during my first round of antibiotics and prednisone, my ankle swelled up and had a rash on it. I thought it was a reaction to the meds. My doc (who I messaged about it) wasn’t sure what it was. Someone at work said “that could be a blood clot” - and of course, I scoffed and blew her off. It went away after a couple days. Well, 3 weeks later when my calf muscle had been sore for several days (again messaged my doc), she expressed concern that it could be a clot and said to come get it checked asap. Yeah. I was sent straight to the hospital. Turns out the clot is the length of my calf, plus I had clots in my lungs. Veeeery fortunate they didn’t kill me. So much for addressing my largely hormonally triggered VM with hormones (i.e. birth control pills). Ugh.

As for the doctor/pharmacist thing - I definitely agree. I think I spend more time talking to my pharmacist about my prescriptions than my doc these days…

so scary about that blood clot glad u are ok! so do u now have to go off the bc pills permanently?

Yup. Permanently off them. My VM has ramped up a tad because of it, though haven’t noticed things being too terrible yet. (Though any ramp-up could be due to stress, as things at work are currently very stressful - with no sight in end.)

I’ve been sick as fuck from another antibiotic, and as it was not packaged with the info sheet I looked it up online. Then when I stepped in to the pharmacy and asked why they had left it out and not sent it in response ot messages, she asked whether I’d like her to print one out for me. Yes, I said, and left with at least that, which duplicated what I’d found online. As I was leaving, though, she warned that I should avoid calcium and even dairy within an hour of taking it. This is nowhere in the official documentation, but the pharmacist at a different store confirmed it. Shee-it. Four ore days, though–not that it’s helping at all–and I’ll be off it. Maybe I’ll stop being queasy, headachey, and a greater risk for confusion/losing it/spacing out.

I took cipro and flagyl when I’m pretty sure I didn’t need to and my VM has flared up bad. Did anyone come out of this?