Docs are increasingly offering the antibiotic drug azithromycin hoping it can help with COVID-19. It’s a desperate attempt to save patients battling a potentially deadly coronavirus infection.
And why not? It’s cheap, easy to get, has been around for ages, and most docs think it’s relatively safe.
And SOMETHING has got to be better than doing NOTHING, they reason.
Well, my friend, I’m here today with a reality check. And if you’re a regular Healthier Talk reader, you may have ALREADY spotted the problem with this reasoning.
If you survive the virus, it WON’T be thanks to the drug. Antibiotics are for bacterial infections, not viruses.
But that’s not all. After the COVID-19 is gone, you could be left with something else caused by the drug. A condition that, in some ways, may be WORSE than the coronavirus itself.
In other words, in this case, “something” is definitely not better than “nothing.”
The TRUE risk of azithromycin in seniors
The new study looked at what happens when azithromycin is taken with QT-prolonging drugs.
QT-prolonging drugs affect the electrical impulses of your heart. And they’re some of the most common pills taken by seniors including:
- blood pressure meds
- certain painkillers
- muscle relaxants
- some antidepressants
There’s also one more in that mix. The anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine is often given experimentally to coronavirus patients despite only mixed results in studies.
And that, my friend, is when your REAL problems can begin.
When these meds are combined… when you take azithromycin with ANY of those QT-prolonging drugs… your risk of a heart “event” skyrockets by a staggering 40 percent. Those events can include everything from fainting to heart palpitations to cardiac arrest.
Make sure the med fits first
The study didn’t point to any risks from the azithromycin alone. But past studies have already provided us with a list of those.
Previous research has uncovered plenty of reasons to be cautious about azithromycin. That includes a study over the summer that found the drug may be linked to DOUBLE the risk of death from a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular events.
What’s more, that study found azithromycin can trigger these problems in as little as five days. This is, not coincidentally, the number of days in the azithromycin “Z-Pak” that’s been a standard for years for bacterial sinusitis, pharyngitis, pneumonia, and more.
In fact, far too many docs are guilty of prescribing it when they aren’t quite sure what’s going on. And since many common illnesses and infections go away on their own within five days anyway, it can appear as if the arbitrary prescription helped.
These random prescriptions are part of why azithromycin has gained an undeserved reputation over the years as something of a “miracle med” that’ll cure anything. But it’s NOT.
So whether you have the coronavirus or not, you should think twice before agreeing to a Z-Pak. There are certainly cases when you may need the med. But talk to your doc about whether azithromycin is really the right choice in your specific case. And go over all of your options before you make your decision.