Levofloxacin is a medication prescribed for patients with bacterial infections. It is a type of antibiotic called a fluoroquinolone, which may be used to both treat and sometimes prevent certain infections. A doctor may prescribe it to prevent traveler's diarrhea, as well as anthrax and plague in the event of a bioterror attack on a population. People with skin, urinary tract, or sinus infections may also use levofloxacin. This drug can treat pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, kidney, or prostate infections.
Adults will typically be prescribed a dose of 250 to 750 milligrams (mg) daily, while dosages for children are determined on an individual basis. Each dose should be taken with a full glass of water and patients should continue to stay well-hydrated throughout the day to help reduce potential side effects. Levofloxacin tablets may be taken with or without food; however, the liquid solution is best taken on an empty stomach. Patients must discuss their use of vitamins, supplements, and antacids with the prescribing physician prior to using this drug. Some products, such as antacids that contain aluminum or magnesium, may only be used at least two hours after or prior to a dose of this drug.
Levofloxacin may cause some side effects, some of which are relatively mild. These may include nausea, vomiting, and stomach discomfort. Constipation, heartburn, and headache may also occur, along with diarrhea and vaginal itching. Patients should consult their doctors if these side effects become bothersome.
More serious side effects should be addressed with emergency medical care. These can include swelling of the face, limbs, or feet, as well as bloody stools and severe diarrhea. A rapid heartbeat, problems swallowing or breathing, and fainting have also been reported. Some patients have experienced chest pain, jaundice, and flu-like symptoms, such as a fever. Rarely, hallucinations, paranoia, and thoughts of suicide have also occurred.
Patients should be aware of other potential complications that may result from the use of levofloxacin. This antibiotic has been known to elevate the risk of tendinitis or a tendon rupture, particularly in patients over the age of 60. Undergoing an organ transplant and taking steroid medications also increases this risk. Children should not usually be prescribed this medication, due to the risk of problems with the bones and joints. Usually, a child should only use levofloxacin to prevent a greater risk from exposure to anthrax.
Before taking levofloxacin, patients should disclose their other medical conditions, medications, and supplements. This antibiotic can harm a nursing infant; however, as of 2011, it is unknown whether it will harm an unborn baby. Patients may be unable to use this drug if they have diabetes, myasthenia gravis, or allergies to any antibiotics. Some medications may interact with it, including blood thinners, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and oral steroid drugs.