Levaquin and Metronidazole for Diverticulitis

male colon
3D rendition of a male colon. (Image: Eraxion/iStock/Getty Images)

With aging, the large intestine or colon may develop small pockets known as diverticulae -- or a single diverticulum, if you develop just one pocket. Doctors call this medical condition diverticulosis. Most people with diverticulosis never develop symptoms. Occasionally, however, one or more of these pockets become inflamed, leading to a potentially serious disease called diverticulitis. Diverticulitis can cause a broad range of symptoms, including abdominal pain, usually on the left side, fatigue, weakness or malaise and low-grade fever. Diverticulitis requires immediate diagnosis and treatment from a specialist, usually a colon and rectal surgeon. Antibiotics help eliminate the bacteria that cause the inflammation of diverticulitis.

Antibiotics kill bacteria that cause infection. If you don't treat diverticulitis promptly with antibiotics, the infection may escalate and you may develop more severe abdominal pain along with a high fever and a variety of othAdvanced bactereemia can lead to sepsis which can lead to shock, unconsciousness and organ failure. An infected diverticulum can perforate, or burst, spilling pus or stool into the abdominal cavity. Left untreated, these complications may become irreversible and lead to death.

Levaquin is a brand name of the drug levofloxacin, and is a member of a class of antibiotics effective against some of the bacteria involved in diverticulitis. Levaquin has several side effects, including tendon inflammation and rupture; take this drug only if prescribed by your doctor. Other antibiotics in this class of antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin, may be used in place of Levaquin. You must take these antibiotics for between 10 days to two or three weeks to fully treat the infection and prevent complications. Often, your doctor also may prescribe metronidazole, an antibiotic effective against different bacteria, for broader antibiotic coverage. Metronidazole also has side effects; do not drink alcohol while taking this drug.

If you've had diverticulitis once, you have an increased risk for repeated episodes. If the episodes occur often enough, your doctor may recommend an elective resection, or removal, of the diseased portion of colon. Severe diverticulitis requires hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics. You might need emergency surgery if perforation occurs or if the disease process does not resolve with antibiotic treatment.

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