Although clear studies don’t exist on whether fluoroquinolone antibiotics specifically cause irreversible bell’s palsy, it is a very severe and rare reaction among the many other severe reactions. It still exists. It still happens.
A friend of mine, through all of this, has one of the worst reactions to a fluoroquinolone antibiotic I’ve seen, resulting in tremendous connective tissue (including muscle) damage in her face, affecting her voice box as well. She cannot speak or create facial expressions the way she used to. It’s very rare for this to happen and it is still very scary. Despite this, my friend (who I will not name or share pictures of to respect her anonymity) still remains tremendously positive with the support of her incredible partner and two dogs. She is never cruel and treats everyone with love and respect.
My very worst symptom from fluoroquinolone toxicity was neurotoxicity, as I’ve explained in earlier posts. It was accompanied by my second worst symptom, tendon and muscle damage. I lost 20 pounds in my first two weeks of getting floxed, but I also lost complete feeling in my entire body for months. I feared that I would never be the same.
My entire body includes my face. My face felt like a wave of numbness you experience at a dentist office right before they pull a tooth, but it was more than that. Because the numbness was so severe and lasted for so long, I also felt twitching around my mouth area.
Muscle twitching is another symptom of fluoroquinolone toxicity that is usually a clear sign of muscle damage from the drug. It results in little pops and twitches in various parts of your body, which I’ve actually had as long as I can remember, but I also took Cipro at age 5, so I’m not sure if it’s also from that.
So I had those twitches in my mouth and sometimes I felt a bit of weakness around its corners. I would smile in the mirror and check on my face. It felt like I couldn’t use it as well as I could before, but my face looked fine. Eventually, I stopped checking.
More recently, I’ve noticed that my smile is no longer symmetrical like it once was. I teach English online, so I’m always staring at my own face in the camera. Those twitches and numbness and damage from the fluoroquinolone affected my face in a teeny, tiny way. I have permanent slight bell’s palsy in my mouth.
I don’t like to talk about my lingering symptoms anymore because I like to move forward and focus on filming other people, on finishing the documentary, on staying positive and living my life. However, I can never say I’m 100% healed because I have this… but, look at this. It’s fine (to be fair, you can barely tell because my head is tilted in this photo). It’s literally this tiny little thing wrong with my face and it’s barely noticeable. Sure, I can get angry about it and wish over and over again that this didn’t happen to me, but what about my inspirational friend who has it a thousand times worse? What about others who have ripped tendons, had heart attacks, aortic aneurysms, or even died because of fluoroquinolone toxicity?
Just because there isn’t clear scientific evidence recognized by the FDA of bell’s palsy from fluoroquinolone antibiotics, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen to floxies. I mean, they just recognized a study from like, 2010, claiming that it causes aortic aneurysm. There is a scientific case involving a man who had the reaction from a different antibiotic called linezolid, also known as Zyvox. In the case, the man had a bell’s palsy reaction two times and both times, he recovered after a few months.
Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are very serious drugs and they should not be taken lightly or for minor infections.
Same, Same, but Different: Floxie Reactions
10 Things That Helped Me Heal the Most Post-Flox
Lingering Effects of Post-Traumatic Stress from Fluoroquinolone Toxicity