Fluoroquinolones: Risk of permanent nerve damage

The FDA has required the product labelling for all fluoroquinolone antibacterial drugs be updated to better describe the serious side effect of peripheral neuropathy. This serious nerve damage potentially caused by fluoroquinolones may occur soon after these drugs are taken and may be permanent.
Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy vary, depending on which types of nerves are affected. Signs and symptoms may include:
  • Gradual onset of numbness and tingling in feet or hands, which may spread upward into legs and arms
  • Sharp, jabbing, burning, or electric-like pain
  • Sensitivity to touch, even light touch
  • Lack of coordination, muscle weakness or paralysis if motor nerves are affected
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, heat intolerance, bowel or bladder changes if autonomic nerves are affected
The risk of peripheral neuropathy occurs only with fluoroquinolones that are taken by mouth or by injection.  Approved fluoroquinolone drugs include levofloxacin (Levaquin), ciprofloxacin (Cipro), moxifloxacin (Avelox), norfloxacin (Noroxin), ofloxacin (Floxin), and gemifloxacin (Factive).  The topical formulations of fluoroquinolones, applied to the ears or eyes, are not known to be associated with this risk.
For the complete MedWatch announcement, click here.

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