The antibiotic commonly sold under the names Cipro, Levaquin, and Avelox is only intended for serious infections when other medications are likely to fail. It comes with potentially serious side effects including the risk of joint, tendon, and muscle damage and is meant for cases in which the benefit of this strong antibiotic outweighs the risk of the side effects. Despite the intended use and known risks, fluoroquinolone is often prescribed as a first antibiotic for less serious infections.
The Food and Drug Administration recently completed a comprehensive review of this overused medication and found 67 cases of hypoglycemic coma in fluoroquinolone users. The majority of the patients had risk factors for hypoglycemia such as diabetes, being older, having renal insufficiency, and the use of hypoglycemic medications to reduce blood sugar levels.
Due to this, the FDA will require an additional subsection of the labeling to indicate a risk of coma with hypoglycemia.
If you are taking medication for diabetes, make sure to inform any doctor who may be considering prescribing you antibiotics, especially if you are seeing an unfamiliar physician or are being seen in an urgent care center or hospital where they may not be aware of all of your medications or medical history.
The FDA also suggests that you inform your physician if you develop low blood sugar or any potential symptoms of low blood sugar while taking fluoroquinolone. The symptoms of low blood sugar may include feeling shaky or dizzy, confusion, headaches, unusual hunger, irritability, a fast pulse, pale skin, trembling, sweating, anxiety, or weakness.
More serious symptoms include confusion, blurred vision, seizures, loss of consciousness, and the inability to complete regular tasks. If you have any serious symptoms, contact 911 or go to your local emergency room. Low blood sugar is potentially life-threatening and fluoroquinolone may increase the risk of dangerous effects.
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