4 out of 4 stars
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Have you ever taken an antibiotic known as a fluoroquinolone? This would be Levaquin or most antibiotics ending in -floxacin. A few examples are ciprofloxacin, moxifloxacin, or gemifloxacin. If you have, did you have any adverse side effects? If not, you may be one of the lucky ones. Perilous Pills by Marilyn Beardsley Heise discusses this class of drugs, tells of their potential side effects, and gives the story of some who were injured by taking fluoroquinolones. It also gives tips on how to better protect yourself.
You might ask why the author decided to write on this subject. The author herself experienced adverse side effects after taking Levaquin for a minor sinus infection. She decided that others needed to be aware of this drug and its hazards.
Though I had heard of "floxies" and being "floxed" (as victims of this drug call themselves), I had never researched the subject in-depth. To me, the most shocking information was that fluoroquinolones may alter DNA. A mathematician named Joe King had his DNA analyzed, and they found "that fluoroquinolones and some metabolites were . . . attached abnormally to my DNA."
What I most appreciated about this book was the amount of research the author put into it. This subject isn't taken lightly or entered into willy-nilly. At the end of the book, the selected bibliography is pages upon pages. Within the book itself, there are numbers to click on after the author gives a piece of information. Once clicked, a box pops up that tells you the exact source for the material. If anyone would like to research the topic further, Ms. Heise has made it easy.
Also helpful are the tips the author provides. For example, she suggests reading the leaflet that comes with all prescriptions about any potential side effects. In addition, she suggests not taking any prescription medication that has been out for less than five years.
There were only a few small issues I came across. First, the information did become a bit repetitive. For example, she mentions several times that seniors take the most medications. Second, I found a few errors in the text. They were mostly minor typographical errors like a closing quotation without an opening one or capitalization errors. There were, though, less than ten.
All in all, Perilous Pills is informative and written well. The problems were minor and didn't detract from the enormous amount of work the author put into this. Thus, I rate it 4 out of 4 stars. Anyone who has taken or is considering taking antibiotics should read the book as well as everyone in the healthcare field. If you just can't stomach non-fiction, you probably won't be able to make it through this book; however, it is a short read (it has only 112 pages without the bibliography). I, for one, feel better informed after reading this book.
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