Life in the Fog: How Levaquin and Other Fluoroquinolones Can Affect Your Brain

September 29, 2014  |  Dangerous Drugs & Devices, FLQ, Pharmaceuticals

Define irony: Trying to write a guest blog about brain fog and not being able to think of what to say.

It took me 27 minutes just to even write that sentence.

One of the many adverse reactions to fluoroquinolone antibiotics- Levaquin, Cipro, Avelox, and more- is brain fog. There are many ways to define brain fog but it basically boils down to this: it feels like your brain doesn’t work.

A few examples of brain fog include:

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  • Inability to recall words you use every day
  • Forgetfulness/memory loss
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Inability to focus on multiple things at once

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While most people would think of these as a minor inconvenience, people with brain fog have difficulty socializing, being around people, or communicating with others. Often, people with brain fog have difficulty remembering what was said five minutes ago, easily lose focus, and forget or transpose numbers such as PIN numbers, telephone numbers or even birth dates.

In my position as President/Executive Director of Quinolone Vigilance Foundation, and as a person adversely affected by fluoroquinolones, I am often communicating through e-mail, telephone calls, and in face-to-face meetings. Just a few days ago I was on a professional conference call and I couldn’t remember how to spell my own name, or recall my cell phone number. Some days are clearer than others, but most days the things that usually come naturally become very difficult to do and say.

The impact of brain fog can range from mild to severe.

Why does it happen? The exact mechanism is not known yet, but we do know that fluoroquinolone antibiotics cross the blood-brain barrier, unlike other classes of antibiotics, and it can severely affect the Central Nervous System.

Fluoroquinolones are a class of antibiotics which are synthetic broad-spectrum and are meant to treat life-threatening infections. However, they are often wrongly given as a first line of defense for minor infections, and often as a preventative measure when no infection exists. Unlike side effects, which typically cease or fade after a patient stops taking a drug, adverse reactions to fluoroquinolones can continue for weeks, months, or even years, and can often permanently disable.

Antibiotics are supposed to help us feel better. Imagine taking a pill and not being able to recall important events such as birthdays, forgetting how to write a check, or how to form a complete sentence. It sounds like the plot of a movie: taking a pill and losing blocks of time and reason. Except this happens in real life.

Because of Levaquin-induced brain fog, it took 3½ days to write a blog about brain fog.

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