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Fluoroquinolones are antibiotic drugs used in the treatment of many infections caused by bacteria in the human body. Among other infections, these drugs are used to treat urinary tract infections, joint and bone infections, and respiratory infections, such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, and bronchitis. These drugs directly act on the DNA of bacteria, killing them. Bacterial DNA is essential in the multiplication of bacteria inside the body.
Like most potent drugs, these drugs usually require a doctor's prescription. Some examples of fluoroquinolones are ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, and ofloxacin. They usually come in tablet or injectable form. Their recommended dosage usually depends on the kind of infection and the type of fluoroquinolones being prescribed.
Many types of fluoroquinolone drugs have been removed from the market because of their potentially harmful side effects. One example is gatifloxacin, which was found to cause frequent hyperglycemia, high blood sugar, and hypoglycemia, low blood sugar, in patients. Grepafloxacin was also recalled from the market for causing heart problems in patients; trovafloxacin often had toxic effects on the liver.
Many fluoroquinolones that are still available can also have mild to very serious side effects. Patients are usually advised to watch out for rashes, swelling of the face and neck, tingling of the toes or fingers, and shortness of breath, which could indicate an allergy to the drug. When these conditions develop during the use of fluoroquinolones, patients should immediately call their doctor.
Other effects of the drug can include a lowered level of alertness and drowsiness, and patients are advised not to operate machines or drive while they are on medication. The drug can also cause weakening of the tendons in the body, so it is recommended that patients rest and limit their activities. Common milder side effects include headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nervousness.
Fluoroquinolones can have interactions with other drugs. These interactions usually cause changes in the effectiveness of either drug in the body. Drugs to be avoided include antacids that contain magnesium, calcium, and aluminum; vitamin and food supplements containing zinc and iron; bronchodilator drugs; and caffeine.
Like all drugs, use of fluoroquinolones should be used as prescribed. Improper use of drugs may cause some strains of bacteria to become resistant to treatment. This can make management of infections complicated and difficult to cure.