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My doctor prescribed Levaquin for treating bronchitis. After taking the medication for two days, my blood sugar levels were very low. Are fluoroquinolone medications safe for diabetics?

Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are often prescribed to treat urinary tract infections, pneumonia, bronchitis, and other common infections.

A recent study found that diabetic patients who take fluoroquinolone medications like Cipro and Levaquin are more likely to suffer from blood sugar abnormalities than diabetic patients prescribed other antibiotics. The authors of the study warn doctors to consider other antibiotics when treating infection in diabetic patients.

Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are linked to a variety of serious side effects, including heart arrhythmia, tendon rupture, joint damage, retinal detachment, peripheral neuropathy and psychosis. In previous studies, researchers found a link between the use of fluoroquinolone drugs and severe blood sugar fluctuations, including hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). The fluoroquinolone drug Tequin (gatifloxacin) was pulled from the market in 2006 because of a high risk of dysglycemia, a dangerous imbalance of sugar in the body. Any of these conditions can cause brain damage, coma or even death.

Diabetic patients must avoid sudden changes in blood sugar. But until recently it was not known if drugs like Cipro posed a special risk to diabetic patients.

A recent Taiwanese study looked at the effect of fluoroquinolone drugs on diabetics compared to other antibiotics. Researchers at the National Taiwan University in Taipei examined the health records of 78,000 diabetic patients. They specifically looked for patients who were prescribed antibiotics. If the patients were prescribed antibiotics, the researchers also looked to see if the patients were treated in a hospital or emergency room for dysglycemia within 30 days of the start of antibiotic therapy.

Patients involved in the study took three types of antibiotics:

  • Fluoroquinolones such as Levaquin and Cipro
  • Cephalosporins such as Keflex and Defadryl
  • Macrolides such as Zithromax and erythromycin


Diabetic patients who were prescribed oral fluoroquinolones were more than twice as likely to suffer from dysglycemia as diabetic patients taking cephalosporins and macrolides. The complete study is published in the August 15, 2013 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Dysglycemia is just one of the many serious side effects associated with fluoroquinolone drugs. If you or a loved one has suffered from peripheral neuropathy, retinal detachment, or a diabetic emergency while talking Cipro, Levaquin, or another antibiotic, discuss your case with the Cedar Rapids drug injury lawyers at Hupy and Abraham. You may be eligible for monetary compensation. To learn more about Iowa Cipro lawsuits, please call 888-807-2752.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham

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