Antibiotics are drugs taken to fight bacterial attacks. These medications help treat as well as prevent bacterial attacks. Some of these antibiotics are broad-spectrum drugs; these can work against a sizeable number of bacterial strands. Drugs such as levofloxacin are categorized under quinolone antibiotics. Such drugs are commonly used when other medications yield limited or no results. Levofloxacin can disrupt the DNA of bacteria and can stop further spread of infections. But, what are the likely side effects of this drug? Does it trigger harmful side effects? It is helpful to know the possible risks of this category of antibiotics before starting a course.
Levofloxacin inhibits the growth of bacteria and helps control the progression of microbial activities as well as infections. This medication is used as an effective drug to in the treatment of respiratory ailments such as pneumonia, sinusitis and bacterial attacks or infections in your urinary tract. It is mainly administered when the microbe has turned resistant to other antibiotics. As mentioned, levofloxacin is categorized under a family of drugs known as quinolone antibiotics – mainly used for several types of infections caused by bacteria. You need to know that this drug has serious limitations if used for treating viral infections. So, if you use this drug to treat common symptom of a viral attack – such as runny nose, flu, cold, etc. – this medication is unlikely to yield the desired outcomes. In essence, levofloxacin plays a critical role in stopping further multiplication of drug-resistant strands of bacteria.
Side effects of levofloxacin
Common side effects of levofloxacin include drowsiness, headache, nausea, abdominal discomforts, diarrhea, etc. You may also experience sleep related disorders such as insomnia as well as difficulties while passing stools (constipation). These side effects may go away after a few days – i.e., as soon as your body gets used to the doses. However, if the side effects persist for long, you are advised to talk to your treating doctor without further delay.
Serious side effects
In general, this drug is unlikely to trigger any major adverse effects. But, if you experience signs such as discharge of urine in varied quantities (or any other symptoms of a likely renal disorder), decrease in appetite (frequent urges to throw up or vomit, persistent episodes of vomiting, discoloration of eyes, abdominal discomforts and any such symptoms that are linked to a likely liver condition), abnormal bleeding or formation of bruises, etc., you are advised to take medical help immediately. A few other serious side effects include darkening of urine, persistent pain in stomach, an impaired sense of taste, etc.
Acute side effects of levofloxacin
If you have any allergies or hypersensitivity to quinolone antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, etc., you are advised to tell your treating physician as well as your pharmacist about such conditions. In some cases, soon after discontinuing this medication you may notice cramping of abdominal muscles, gasping for breath or persistent spells of diarrhea. In such instances, you need to inform your physician about these discomforts.
Though it is a very uncommon occurrence, this drug may at times trigger infections in the intestine and can lead to a spell of diarrhea. This condition is associated with a drug-resistant microbe of the Clostridium family (specifically, a microbial strand known as Clostridium difficle). As a related symptom of this microbial attack or infection, you may also find traces of mucus in stools. In such instances, intake of opioids or drugs to stop diarrhea can be counterproductive; in fact, such medicines are known to only aggravate your abdominal condition.
Acute side effects of levofloxacin may also include an acute spell of drowsiness or being lightheaded, arrhythmia (i.e., changes in the rate of your heartbeat), pain in the chest or other signs linked to a tear in the aorta (an arterial blood vessel), etc. In case of a possible damage of aorta, you are likely to experience other signs also – these include gasping, similar type of respiratory problems as well as acute episodes of pain in back or stomach.
Long-term dosages of levofloxacin
Intake of levofloxacin over a longer term or repeatedly may trigger the risk of yeast formation. You may also experience thrush in oral parts. Such long term use of this medication can also result in discoloration of some parts of your face – especially, oral parts like tongue, abnormal discharges from vagina, etc.
Extremely serious or very acute side effects
Such types of reactions or side effects are very uncommon and rare. Side effects of extremely serious nature may include rashes on skin, acute respiratory problems, extremely serious spell of drowsiness, inflammation of your facial parts, swelling of oral parts such as throat or tongue, itchiness, etc.
Though very uncommon, a few people have experienced a marked change in potassium levels in blood, change in eyesight, pain in joints, expansion of arteries, etc.
You need to remember that the aforesaid reactions and side effects do not form a full listing. So, if you experience signs or symptoms that are not listed above, it is highly recommended to talk to a qualified medical practitioner without further delay.
What to do when you experience acute or very serious side effects?
The first thing you can do is to get in touch with your treating doctor. If you are living in the US, you can call the helpline number or the contact-coordinates of food and drug administration (FDA). You can also take needful medical attention from a local poison control center. If you are a Canadian resident, you can reach Health Canada through their helpline numbers. It is also a good practice to get in touch with a poison control center located closer home or in the province where you live.
Safety measures needed prior to the intake of levofloxacin
This is a prescription medicine whose dosages may vary based on your clinical condition as well as your treating doctor’s medication plan. Its usual dosage is once per day, taken with or without food. You are advised to take this drug at the same timeslot all through your treatment plan. Such timely administration is known to enhance the efficacy of this drug. Also, you are advised to take the drug even after your symptoms have ceased to show up. It is a good practice to consume it till the entire prescribed quantity is over. If you discontinue taking the drug in between your medication plan, you run the risk of a likely relapse of infections. However, intake of levofloxacin when there is no need for it can make it ineffective when taken later to fight infections.
General safety measures associated with the intake of levofloxacin
You are advised to talk to your pharmacist about the safety measures to be taken while consuming levofloxacin. You are advised to take your pharmacist’s inputs prior to starting your medication plan as well as during each visit to the pharmacy for refilling purpose. In case of younger adults or teens, the dosage is based on their bodyweight. It is a good practice to take other drugs 2 to 3 hours before or after taking levofloxacin; especially, if you are taking antacids that contain aluminium, calcium-fortified food products, supplements of zinc or iron, etc. As levofloxacin can trigger dizziness, you are advised not to take cannabis or alcohol. It is not a good practice to operate heavy equipment or machinery, drive and in general, perform activities that may require high levels of mental agility. You are likely to become extra-sensitive to sunlight. A few people have reported developing signs such as itchiness, discoloration of skin or frequent spells of itchiness. Hence, your doctor may advise you to have a restricted exposure to sun. As an extended precaution, it is a good practice to use sunscreen-creams or have needful protection when you are staying outdoors.
Prior clinical conditions and intake of levofloxacin
If you have a clinical history of renal ailments, neurological disorders (such as neuropathy of the peripheral genre), convulsions or epileptic fits, high or low blood sugar, internal blockages in blood vessels, etc. you need to keep your treating physician informed of it. It is highly recommended to tell your doctor if you have mood swings or mental health conditions such as depression, suicidal thoughts, etc. Conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure level), joint problems, tendon-related conditions, epilepsy, etc. also need to be informed to your medical team as well as the pharmacist.
This drug is likely to trigger an elongated QT; a condition which can affect the rhythm of heartbeat. If such prolongation occurs, it may (though very uncommonly) lead to passing out, drowsiness, etc. As these can be potentially fatal signs, you are advised to take needful medical attention as soon as possible. It hence becomes essential to tell your pharmacist if you have conditions such as arrhythmia, prior episodes of cardiac failures or heart arrests, etc. As levofloxacin may alter the levels of magnesium or potassium, risks of prolonged QT can become high. These risks may stand aggravated if you take water pills or diuretic medications. Prior conditions such as severe vomiting, diarrhea or excessive sweating may also enhance the risk rate.
Safety measures for those living with diabetes
In very rare instances, levofloxacin may alter your blood sugar levels. If you are living with diabetes, it is highly recommended to check sugar levels in a routine manner. If you suffer from low levels of blood sugar, you are advised to watch out signs such as excessive sweating, tremors, blurring of eyesight, staying hungry most of the time, etc. You doctor may advise you to carry glucose pills as a quick remedy to treat low levels of blood sugar. Your treating doctor may make you take alternative antibacterial medicines or may prescribe suitable diabetic drugs if these problems are encountered repeatedly.
In general, if you have missed a dose of levofloxacin, take the dose as soon as you remember it. But, if the next dose has already come closer, avoid taking a dual-dose as it can lead to a likely overdose. The risks associated with an overdose of levofloxacin include severe breathing problems, extreme levels of dizziness, episodes of drowsiness, passing out, etc. If you are a resident of US, you are advised to call 911 immediately.
In sum, the most common side effects of levofloxacin are dizziness, nausea, other abdominal discomforts, headache, diarrhea, etc. These side effects may go off after some days; but, if they persist, talk to your treating doctor or pharmacist.