This week marks the first anniversary of my being FQd. During the first week of June, 1999, I took 3 Levaquin (I believe 500mg each) and one Cipro. I've gone back over my posts to the Quinolone group and listed all the symptoms that I've mentioned over the past year, and then provided a current status. This may be of interest only to me, but it might provide some longitudinal insight to one case of ADR to FQs.
1. Rotator cuff tendonitis (doctor diagnosed), arm parasthesias, ulnar nerve problems, hypersensitive skin, and index finger stiffness. The tendonitis appeared early on, in the first month, and lingered for a long time. Even today, my left shoulder is a little stiff. The tingling and pain in my fingers lasted for months, then slowly faded. The hypersensitivity was an occasional effect that disappeared fairly soon -- perhaps by September. The sore index finger still comes and goes.The ulnar nerve problems appeared at about six months, and gradually improved. The sensation in my left little finger is somewhat reduced, and I am prone to some pain in the outside edge of my left elbow. This does not seem to be getting worse or better. My right arm is now completely normal, with no symptoms of either tendonitis or ulnar nerve problems.
I am a southern California boy (of 43) who moved to Redmond, a suburb of Seattle, in November, 1997. The winter of 1998-99 was the darkest and rainiest in the area's history. Natives were complaining of seasonal depression and threatening to move. In the winter of 1999 I suffered from a period of anxiety (which I had never before experienced) and minor panic attacks. By the time of the FQ incident in June I had been free of anxiety symptoms for a month or so (the sun came out). I mention this because anxiety and depression frequently go together and I cannot be sure that what happened in June and July were necessarily a result of the FQ. (Having said that, I am personally absolutely convinced that my ensuing bout of depression was COMPLETELY triggered by the FQs.)
Starting in mid-June, about 2 weeks after being FQ'd, I started having classic symptoms of severe depression: I was weepy, had trouble staying asleep, was laying awake in the dark, had trouble caring about anything, lost 15 pounds (not a bad thing, in my case), and lost interest in life. This lasted about six weeks and resolved itself. I took Zoloft briefly -- it made me an insomniac -- and took SAM-e for about 4 months. I have had no recurrence of either anxiety or depression since.
3. Leg pain, joint pain, muscle twitching (fasciculations)
Aside from the depression, this was the worst effect of the FQs. The pain in my calves was unrelenting and lasted for about six months. I had joint pains for nearly that long. At times I felt like a zombie, with nothing moving right, and everything sore. The pain is now gone, and my legs seem fine.
The fasiculations in my legs were likewise unrelenting, and went on for at least 8 months. I thought that it would never get better. The twitching mostly stopped 2-3 months ago, although I now get twitching muscles almost every time I do even mild leg exercising (like brisk walking or bicycle riding).
4. Visual field distortions, eye problems
This is an example of a probable ADR that may or may not have been caused by the FQs. I felt mild irritation in my left eye that went on for months. I also had shimmering in my field of vision that was worse under fluorescent lights and in sunlight. I had two separate bouts of extreme light sensitivity -- one in June and July, 1999, and again for a shorter period in December 1999. An ophthalmologist and an optometrist examined me and found nothing.
In January, 2000, I visited another ophthalmologist who discovered that I had a plugged duct in my eyelid. After clearing the plug -- a not altogether pleasant experience -- my eye felt less irritated. The irritation has not recurred, and the clog seems to have been the cause. Perhaps inflammation from the FQs contributed to the clog, but it seems inconclusive. It's hard to believe it was a coincidence, but it is also hard to believe the FQs were the direct cause. He diagnosed the shimmering and light sensitivity as migraine auras. I have never had migraine problems, and have never had a migraine headache. This might not be an ADR, but it did happen right after the FQ episode. Anyone else have FQ-related migraines? Unlike some other people, my visual acuity was unaffected.
5. Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
This bothered me a lot during the same period I was suffering from vision problems. I assume they were related. I recently noticed that I hadn't had tinnitus for a long time. I cannot say when it stopped.
6. Foggy brain, slow thought, "disconnected" feeling
This lasted longer than the depression, which was pretty much gone by mid-August. I can't really say when it went away, but it seems to have just slowly gotten better. I would say that I have been mentally back up to nearly 100% (I am, after all, over 40 and not nearly as quick as my 11- and 8-year-old sons!) for about three months.
Eating chicken caused *frequent* relapses until someone here mentioned the linkage between poultry and FQs. Someone else (you people are great) suggested taking calcium with poultry and, voila!, no more problems, although I rarely eat poultry anymore. I keep Tums everywhere I eat and I can now eat chicken without getting FQ'd. The calcium trick sure worked for me.
8. Neck pain
This was a separate, and really nasty, source of pain, that started in June and lasted for months. Some days it was debilitating, but most of the time it wasn't as bad as the leg pain. It's gone now, but it is my first sign of a relapse. (You know about the relapses, right? They are mini-versions of the first FQ attack. Mine usually last from 3-7 days, and at least some of them seem to have been triggered by eating chicken.)
This group has been a source of information and never-ending support.
Thanks to all of you.
Last Updated 7/21/04