The antibiotic Levaquin is used to treat a variety of bacterial infections. Levaquin's generic name is levofloxacin, and it belongs to a class of drugs called fluoroquinolone antibiotics.

Levaquin is useful against bacterial infections that cause bronchitis and pneumonia, as well as sinus infections, bladder infections, and infections of the kidneys and prostrate. It is even used as a precautionary treatment for people exposed to anthrax, although this is a relatively rare occurrence in the United States.

Levaquin treats only bacterial infections. It will not work against the common cold, or flu. It is called a "wide-spectrum" antibiotic, meaning it will treat many different infections, including others not listed here, but only those caused by bacteria, not viruses. Your physician will know when and how to prescribe Levaquin.

Making Physicians Aware of Allergies

If you are being treated in an emergency room, or by a doctor who does not have your medical history, tell your attending physician if you have joint problems, myasthenia gravis, epilepsy, seizures or diabetes. Also mention if you have had hypokalemia, that is, low blood levels of potassium. Your doctor should be made aware of Long QT Syndrome in your personal or family history, as well.

If you have had an allergic reaction to levofloxacin in the past, or antibiotics that are similar in formula, such as lomefloxacin (Maxaquin), norfloxacin (Noroxin), or ciprofloxacin (Cipro), tell your doctor about this allergy before taking Levaquin. It is best to always make an attending physician aware of any allergy you have had in the past or present, and let the doctor decide if it relates to the medicine being prescribed in the current situation.

Levaquin can make your skin more susceptible to sunlight, including tanning beds and sun lamps, so you should limit your exposure to all of them while you are being treated with this antibiotic. Again, be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking other medications that make your skin more sensitive to the sun.\

Other Precautions While Taking Levaquin

You must tell your doctor if you are pregnant before using Levaquin, or if you become pregnant during a course of treatment. The FDA guidelines state that it is not known if Levaquin would harm an unborn baby. Also tell your doctor if you are nursing a baby before taking Levaquin, as this antibiotic may pass into breast milk.

Your prescription Levaquin should not be shared with anyone else, even if you think they have the same illness. In particular, do not give unauthorized Levaquin to a child.

If you are over age 60, you may be more susceptible to swelling or tearing of tendons in general while taking Levaquin, and of the Achilles' heel tendon in particular, especially if you are taking a steroid medication. If you have had a lung, heart or kidney transplant, tell your doctor immediately if you have swelling, stiffness or tenderness, with or without pain, in any joint while taking this medicine. Discontinue use of Levaquin and do not overuse the joint until you can see the doctor or get further instructions.

How Levaquin Should be Taken

Levaquin should be taken just the way your doctor prescribed it for you, and the way it is written on your prescription bottle. You should not take more than the amount prescribed or for a longer or shorter period of time than is recommended. You should not stop taking Levaquin until it is used up, even if you think you are over the illness and you feel better.

Levaquin in tablet form may be taken with or without food, with a full 8 ounce glass of water. The manufacturer recommends taking several glasses of fluid every day while completing a course of Levaquin.

In liquid form, Levaquin should be taken on an empty stomach one hour before meals or two hours after meals. The liquid medicine should be measured with a spoon made especially for measuring doses of medicine, and you should not rely on a regular table spoon to measure. Your doctor or pharmacist can give you a dosing-spoon or recommend one if you do not have one.

In Case of Missed Dosage

If you miss a dose of Levaquin, take it as soon as you remember it, unless it is very close to the time for the next dose. In that case, skip the missed dose and take the next dose on time, to prevent doubling the dose.

If you follow the instructions exactly and complete the course of antibiotics prescribed for you, you should be on your way to becoming well as soon as possible.