Monthly Archives: March 2020

Floxed in the time of COVID-19

The world has shifted. Most of us started the year as if 2020 was going to be a continuation of the norm of 2019, but the world shook, and all assumptions are now out the door.

We are dealing with a global pandemic. COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, has reached every state in the U.S. and most nations in the world. It has killed thousands of people, and it will almost certainly kill thousands more.

Governments have reacted to COVID-19 by declaring national (or local) emergencies, closing borders, stopping travel, shutting down places where people gather (including restaurants, bars, beaches, churches, etc.), closing schools, locking down nursing homes and retirement communities, telling people to stay home from work, and more. These actions have enormous consequences for our economy, and the reach of the ripple-effects are, and will be, far and wide.

I worry about my community—Durango, Colorado. I worry about the virus reaching Durango. As I write this, no cases have been confirmed in my community – but I’m sure that the day is coming when someone in the community will have, and spread, the virus. I worry about the pain, suffering, and death that will bring. I also worry about the effects of the reactions to COVID-19 on my community. I worry about all the people with young kids who can’t go to school for the next month who now must choose between their job(s) and leaving their kids at home alone. I worry about the people who can barely make ends meet while working full-time who are getting their hours cut because we won’t get tourists this year. I worry about the medical workers who must be exposed to sick people as part of their jobs.

I worry about the floxie community and my floxed friends as well. Floxies are susceptible to viruses just like anyone else, and they are also affected by economic fluctuations. Most of my floxed friends have been hurt economically by fluoroquinolones – losing jobs, money, marriages, relationships, and much more because of fluoroquinolone toxicity – and being further economically hurt by COVID-19 is likely to push some of them over the edge.

I worry about many things and many people.

All this fretting. I wish it was helpful, but, alas, it isn’t. But perhaps it may be helpful for someone reading this to hear that someone else cares and is worried about them. People care enough to worry – I do.

I don’t know any more about the ever-changing COVID-19 virus situation than anyone else. However, I do have a few thoughts on how it might affect those who have been floxed. As always, please keep in mind that I’m not a doctor and these are not opinions that are informed by any medical education, they are simply my opinions and thoughts. Here they are:

  1. If you are not on immunosuppressive drugs, I don’t think that COVID-19 will be any more dangerous for you than it is for anyone else. Yes, I know that fluoroquinolone toxicity makes your immune system go haywire, and that fluoroquinolone toxicity looks and feels a lot like various autoimmune diseases. But, I believe that what makes people with autoimmune diseases more susceptible to infections is the immunosuppressive drugs they are often on, not the autoimmune disease itself. HOWEVER, when COVID-19 (and ebola, and a lot of other viral infections) kills people, it is by over-reaction of the immune system in a process called a cytokine storm. So, if floxies have an over-reactive immune system they may be more likely to experience a cytokine storm. I haven’t seen any research saying that floxies are any more likely to experience a cytokine storm than anyone else though, and I assume that floxies are no more, or less, likely to be infected with or experience complications from COVID-19 than anyone else.
  2. Apparently, people who survived SARS and MERS often experience severe ongoing chronic fatigue after they recover. COVID-19 is related to both SARS and MERS, though whether or not there are ongoing fatigue-related effects of COVID-19 is still to-be-determined. A lot of floxies experience severe and intractable fatigue, and even though my fatigue wasn’t near as bad as that of many people, the thought of virus-induced chronic fatigue scares the crap out of me.
  3. NSAIDs can make COVID-19 infections worse. NSAIDs suck. Here are a couple articles about NSAIDs and COVID-19 as well as a couple posts about how NSAIDs are bad for floxies.
    1. The Guardian, “Anti-inflammatories may aggravate Covid-19, France advises
    2. Floxie Hope, “Why NSAIDs Suck for Floxies (and Probably Everyone Else Too)
    3. Floxie Hope, “NSAIDs and FQs Damage Mitochondria, Increase Oxidative Stress, and Cause Cell Death
  4. Chloroquine is being explored as a potential treatment for COVID-19. It is related to fluoroquinolones, but it is NOT a fluoroquinolone. It’s more of a cousin, or even second-cousin, drug. Is chloroquine contraindicated for people who have been floxed? Probably…. But I have not seen any studies showing that. Still, the precautionary principle should rule in most circumstances, and I wouldn’t touch it. In addition to its quin structure, problems with chloroquine include:
    1. It can cause retinal toxicity and blindness.
    2. Both chloroquine and ciprofloxacin are lysosomotropic drugs. People who are smarter than me should read “Lysosomal cell death at a glance” to figure out what that means.
    3. Chloroquine inhibits thiamine uptake, and depleted thiamine is related to many chronic illnesses (you can read about the connections between thiamine, mitochondrial health, and chronic illness on hormonesmatter.com).
    4. Both fluoroquinolones and chloroquine can lead to serious cardiac problems, including arrhythmia and cardiomyopathy, both of which can lead to death.
    5. Both fluoroquinolones and chloroquine can cause tinnitus, and tinnitus can be miserable.

As I said, I wouldn’t take it if it was avoidable. (I am not under the impression that people quarantined in a hospital have much liberty or choice over what drugs go into their bodies though, and I doubt I would be able to make that decision if faced with treating COVID-19 – hopefully I am being pessimistic on that front and body autonomy isn’t actually relinquished when in the hospital…. But I still hope to never be in the situation to find out.) Chloroquine is a serious and consequential drug that may be particularly consequential for people with a history of adverse reactions to fluoroquinolones, but, I want to caution against a total knee-jerk reaction against any drug or substance with “quin” in its name. For example, pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) is a mitochondrial support supplement that many floxies have tried without incident – and its name is even scarier than chloroquine. My approach to chloroquine is to avoid it until it is proven safe for floxies, and hope that it won’t be forced upon me. I’m not a doctor and my approach may not work for others, but it’s my two cents for anyone who wants my thoughts on the matter.

We are still at the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I have no clue what the future will hold. I hope that the pain and suffering brought on by this disease is minimized as much as possible. I hope that the floxed community emerges from this difficult time without too many additional scars.

Hugs,

Lisa

*****