According to the World Health Organization, “Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) threatens the effective prevention and treatment of an ever-increasing range of infections caused by bacteria, parasites, viruses and fungi. AMR is an increasingly serious threat to global public health that requires action across all government sectors and society. Without effective antibiotics, the success of major surgery and cancer chemotherapy would be compromised.”
Now, the FDA is warning against using a popular class of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones. They may cause sudden serious and potentially permanent nerve damage, called peripheral neuropathy.
Fluoroquinolones are antibiotics that are commonly used to treat a variety of illnesses such as respiratory and urinary tract infections. These medicines include ciprofloxacin, gemifloxacin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, norfloxacin, and ofloxacin. Their use is fairly prevalent, and in 2011 alone there were more than twenty-three million patients who were prescribed one of them (1).
Even though this drug works by killing or stopping the growth of bacteria that can cause illness, doctors are now saying that the costs outweigh the benefits when it comes to treating sinusitis and UTI infections, for which the drug is usually prescribed (2).
Peripheral neuropathy is damage to the nerves that send information to and from the brain and spinal cord, and the rest of the body. Damage interrupts this connection, and the symptoms depend on which nerves are affected. Most commonly, the damage takes place in the arms and legs and includes numbness, tingling, burning or shooting pain. There have even been reports of long-lasting nerve damage in patients leading to disability from taking this type of medication (1).
The side effects
The symptoms of fluoroquinolones typically begin very rapidly, within a few days of beginning treatment. The damage they cause might last for months or even be permanent even after having stopped using the drug. The risk of peripheral neuropathy appears to affect only those who take fluoroquinolones by mouth or by injection. You should contact your doctor immediately if you develop numbness, tingling, weakness, burning, shooting pains, or other symptoms while taking this drug (1).
But there are other side effects that can happen when you start taking this drug, and this includes tendon damage and rupture, joint and muscle pain, pins and needles tingling or pricking sensation, confusion, and hallucinations. You should contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these (2).
Treating sinus infection naturally
But what should you do if you have sinusitis or a UTI? Firstly, there are many natural remedies that work to relieve symptoms. For sinusitis, drink plenty of water, no-sugar-added juices, clear broth, and hot tea. These fluids will help to thin out mucus and help to drain it from irritated sinuses. Avoid drinking alcohol, caffeine, and surgery beverages.
Spicy foods such as cayenne pepper or horseradish can be mixed with apple cider vinegar and lemon juice to create a mucus-dissolving elixir. You can also try to break up the mucus with some steam inhalation (boil water and pour into a large bowl, then hover your face over the bowl, breathing in the steam). A neti pot will also help bring relief.
To help kill off the infection, there are a handful of natural antibiotics you can try, of which Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) and echinacea are the most commonly used and most thoroughly researched (6). Goldenseal has a high content of alkaloids, which are known to have antibiotic and immune-supporting properties, as well as the ability to prevent bacteria from “sticking” to healthy cells (6). Echinacea is a popular natural remedy for the common cold, and rightly so; studies have proven its immune-enhancing properties (7).
Treating UTI’s naturally
D-Mannose is an effective treatment for UTI’s and is similar in structure to glucose. It is a naturally occurring sugar that is found in a number of fruits including apples, blueberries, and cranberries. It is effective because it attaches to E. Coli bacteria, causing them to stick to each other and preventing them from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract, making it easier for the body to eliminate them. D-Mannose does not cause any adverse side effects, and cannot be metabolized the way that other sugars can. It can help relieve symptoms as quickly as the following day, and most symptoms are generally resolved after forty-eight hours of treatment. It can even prevent UTI’s from forming in the first place (4).
(1) WebMD. Some antibiotics linked to serious nerve damage http://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20130826/fda-strengthens-fluoroquinolone-warning Published: August 27, 2013. Accessed: February 1, 2017.
(2) FDA. FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA advises restricting fluoroquinolone antibiotic use for certain uncomplicated infections; warns about disabling side effects that can occur together http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm500143.htm Published: May 12, 2016. Accessed: February 1, 2017.
(3) Natural living ideas. 14 Powerful Natural Remedies for a Sinus Infection http://www.naturallivingideas.com/14-natural-sinus-infection-remedies/ Published: April 23, 2014. Accessed: February 1, 2017.
(4) Chris Kresser. Treat and prevent UTIs without drugs https://chriskresser.com/treat-and-prevent-utis-without-drugs/ Published: September 28, 2012. Accessed: February 1, 2017.
(5) Youtube. Southland Firefighter Says Popular Antibiotic Poisoned His Body (Fluoroquinolone Toxicity) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tExiSijba4M Published: April 3, 2015. Accessed: February 1, 2017.
(6) Michael T. Murrary, N.D. & Joseph Pizzorno, N.D. The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, 3rd edition. Toronto: Atria Paperback, 2012. 958-960. Print.
(7) Michael T. Murrary, N.D. & Joseph Pizzorno, N.D. The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, 3rd edition. Toronto: Atria Paperback, 2012. 439. Print.