Statistics Prove It! I Am Special! Augmentin Warning!

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Well-known member
Mar 23, 2007
Cary, NC
For the past three+ weeks, I have been going through a bout of Hepatitis (liver inflammation) severe enough that it was feared that my liver might be on the verge of failure.

I had an MRI, including contrasting dye, of my liver and its surroundings.  Fortunately, everything showed as normal.

However, my blood liver panels continued to have many values so elevated that I was hospitalized for a couple of days with the intention of having a liver needle biopsy to assess the damage and look for anything that might be treatable or operable.

Fortunately, while I was in the hospital, my clotting factor (produced by the liver) returned to "good" and some other severely elevated values began to stabilize or abate.  That, couple with the fact that I felt good and was able to be physically active, led my GI (gastro doc) to cancel the biopsy, send me home and resort to "wait and see".  Things are continuing to improve.

So what caused this hepatitis?  Initially it was thought the culprit was my long term use of Simvastatin (cholesterol lowering drug) which I have been taking for 10 years, the most recent dosage 80mg/day.

That diagnosis/suspicion was discarded when they found I had recently completed a 10 day course of the antibiotic Augmentin.  While the percentage of people who react this way to Augmentin is very small (see, I told you I am special) it is significant enough that the NIH has an ongoing study gathering information on this relationship.

In fact, I have been taken into that study and my care has been taken over by the Medical School Hospital at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  With my symptoms on the wane and my liver panels improving, the only care at this point is a continued monitoring of my blood work to see how long it takes my liver to return to normal, which is the expected outcome.

While the statin was dismissed as a direct cause of this hepatitis, I am off any and all statins until my liver returns to normal.

The Point of All This:  If you have any existing liver problems, are a long term user of statins or, if you just want to play it safe, refuse any treatment that includes Augmentin or its generics.  There are lots of other antibiotics out there without this particular side effect!

Good things that came out of this?  I lost ten pounds.  Now that I am off of the statin, I get to eat grapefruit everyday.

Sorry to hear of your ordeal, Don, but am glad you're recovering just fine.

I suspect Paul is right. I was on statins for a while, and had some odd muscle pains at times, especially after riding my bike. So I dropped the statins and the doc suggested red yeast rice (a non-prescription pill available many places). I tried that for a while, but had only minor improvements in pain. So I dropped it, too. Doc still would like me on statins because my HDL is low (LDL and total are just fine). But without any of that the muscle pain I had is gone, along with the risks from taking the statins.

I don't know how much effect it had, but around the time I stopped the statins, DW started cooking with a lot of olive oil (veg oils/Crisco, etc.  before), which I've heard (with no real proof that I know of) helps control cholesterol.
Hello Don, I am gaining on 83 years of age.About ten/twelve years I was told by my second cadriologist that I should take lovastatin. I knew first hand about the muscel pain and damage a statin can have. So, I researched and came upon pomgranite juice. I take a table spoon of concentrate in a glass of water every day with my lunch.

The next blood work report that the cardiologist looked at he said, " keep on taking your lovastatin". All my subsequent blood work has shown my cholesterol levels to be normal.

It works for me.

It's not statins but the last few weeks I have felt bad, sick at my stomach, problems with my hypoglycemia, just couldn't figure out what was wrong.  We need to find a new doc here but I started wondering about my arthrotec for arthritus.  I started reading the literature online and wouldn't you know.  Nausea, dizziness, headache, weakness, can have elevated blood sugar.  So about 3 days ago I quit taking it, I've taken it for years and I can tell you I feel so much better.

I think sometimes over time that these meds build up or something.  I may hurt but I feel better then I did on that stuff.

I've taken Augmentin too and it always causes me to have yeast issues so I no longer.  Lots of meds I can't take.  I'm glad you found your problem.  There are miracle drugs but I'm afraid there are just as many that are not good for us.

Be careful and continue doing great.
  I stopped taken simvastin (Zocor) the beginning of December; was on it since April. I told my cardiologist the muscle and joint pain was horrendous. I was told to use CO Q-10 200mg a day. It is suppose to replenish the enzymes that the statins reduce in the liver. Don't know if it helps; but don't hurt as much.
  Some of the time the side-effects of the meds outweigh the benefits.
This Statin problem is near to my heart. Have been trying to find answers for over 10 years.  I am now severely suffering from muscle damage in legs and arms. Quit taking  them with Doctors agreement, but the damage had been done.  Absolutely no further help from the Doc. They won't talk about it or even discuss it.

  My cholesterol level was never anywhere near too high, just a bit above the recommended levels. They love to prescribe the stuff.  Never again for me.

Lots of info on the web,  see here for some of it  >>>

  The Statin manufacturers made a lot of money when the level recommended spec's where lowered some years ago.

My rant....
My doctor is working with me to get me off of Simvastatin.  We reduced the dosage from 40mg/day to 20mg/day with no adverse effect on my cholesterol levels, and am now on 10mg/day.  If my levels stay low this spring, we'll go without any meds for the summer and check again in the fall.  I do believe that drinking good scotch helps control cholesterol :D
In 1987 my doctors tried to put me on statins - and most other doctors since!  My dad died at age 56 of heart disease and they were sure I would too.  I told them I was not my father who smoked at least three packs a day, was overweight, and drank whole milk (saturated fat) for his ulcer before the days of skim milk.  After researching statins and learning about liver damage etc. I told them thanks, but no thanks and determined to control my cholesterol with diet and exercise.  Over the years my total cholesterol has tended to vary from 235 to 275.

In 1993 I was a human subject for a Stanford study on diet and exercise to control cholesterol.  I was put into the very low fat diet cohort.  My diet was about 20 percent fat and my cholesterol skyrocketed to around 290 with the HDL and LDL totally out of whack.  That wasn't supposed to happen and I became something of a curiosity to the nutritionists and doctors running the study.  After the study ended,  I continued eating in a similar manner but increased the dietary fat to about 30 percent.  My cholesterol stayed in the 230-250 range and my doctors have adjusted to the fact that I'm not going to die at 56 because I'm long past that!

It wasn't until a couple of years later that they learned more about the different types of fat.  As I read more about the "good" vs. "bad" fats I changed the types of fat I ate.  Specifically I reduced saturated fats but increased things like nuts, olives/olive oil, avocados, and salmon which we now know are in the "good fats" category.  The good news is that after adding these items to my diet the HDLs increased and the LDLs decreased.  Today my total cholesterol is still around 230-250 but everything is in balance and my total cholesterol-to-HDL ratio puts me into the low risk category.  More recently I've also eliminated trans fats which they didn't know about 20+ years ago.  That has helped too.  So my advice to those of you with low HDL is to start eating a handful of nuts every day, choose olives and olive oil for salads, and add avocados and salmon to your meals.

As to statins, I was appalled about a year ago when the Institute of Medicine came out with new guidelines that said ALL people should be given statins!  I absolutely do not agree and think that more people should use the diet and exercise approach and fewer people should be on statins which can be quite dangerous, especially when taken over a long period of time.  By the way, my original doctor told me that there's a rule of thumb they use, for every five pounds of weight you lose, your cholesterol will drop "x" amount.  Unfortunately I don't recall the exact numbers but I had gained 35 pounds in six months on chemo and that's when my cholesterol went haywire.  I lost the first 25 pounds as soon as I could and my cholesterol dropped some but still not enough to satisfy the doctors which was when statins were first discussed.

Oh, and Ned, I prefer a nice glass of white wine to Scotch, but it helps too!  ;D

My initial purpose in starting this thread was to warn people of the potential dangers of Augmentin or amoxicillin plus clavulanate potassium.  See details here:

Since most of the responses dealt with the side effects of statins and since I have since learned more bout Augmentin, I'm making this additional post.

In mid-January I had an inner ear inflection coming on and went to my doctor for help.  She prescribed a 10 day course of treatment with Augmentin, a widely prescribed antibiotic composed of amoxicillin plus clavulanate potassium.  Within three days of the completion to antibiotic treatment, I began to experience symptoms of liver failure.

By January 31, my blood test/liver panel values were so high that my gastroenterologist put me in the hospital intending to do a liver biopsy (a previous MRI with contrasting dye had been clean) to evaluate the extent of the damage.  He also contacted the liver center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Medical School Hospital (also the a transplantation center) because my liver panel readings were so high.

In the process of describing my symptoms and what treatments he had done to the UNC doctor, the UNC doctor asked ?Has he been taking Augmentin??.  When the answer was yes and that I had stopped taking it ten days ago, the UNC doctor suggested that we skip the biopsy for now and just monitor my liver panels for improvement. Good call.  Almost immediately, my liver panel values began to improve and continue to do so.

My care has been transferred to UNC where they can follow my recovery as my liver ?rebuilds?.  I?m also enrolled in a National Institutes of Health research study of Augmentin induced liver failure. The study has been going on for 10 years and I am the 1400th case being added to the data base.

There is no ?treatment?.  The patient is taken off Augmentin and, most of the time, over a period of a few months the liver returns to normal function and that?s where we are now.

The odds: the 1400 cases of Augmentin induced hepatitis or liver failure which the NIH study has unearthed in the last 10 years may only be the tip of the iceberg, but even so, when compared with the millions of doses of Augmentin prescribed annually, your risk is minimal.  However, if you have had previous hepatitis or liver problems, or if you take other medications that might cause liver problems (think Statins), or if you have penicillin allergies, be sure to tell your doctor and (I would) ask for something other than Augmentin.

Progress report: most of my liver panel values have vastly improved (though they are still 7-10 times above "normal") and the symptoms have mostly disappeared.  The doctors tell me that my liver should return to normal within 2-3 months.  We'll rerun the blood tests every 2 weeks to monitor the improvement.

Thanks to all of you who sent prayers or good thoughts my way!

Don, thanks for the update and happy to hear of your excellent recovery progress.
Why get me started, I agree with Carson. In fact I believe that the 80mg of lipitor for 6 years was a major cause of my needing a lung transplant. Several links have been estblished between statins and interstitial lung disease. Some people can handle statins and some cannot.
Don, Keep us posted in a few weeks as it seems many of us are on the very same medications.
Met with my doctor at the UNC-Chapel Hill Liver Center  this week and learned that three of the 4 most important levels in my most recent liver panel  were back in the normal range.  The fourth was very nearly normal.  Whew!

Nothing further to do except to get another test done June 15 to be sure the normality continues.

We have the green light to ?hit the road? which we will do as soon as the Spring flowers complete their annual show!

Thank you again for all your thoughts and prayers!
Just as another caution.  The antibiotic azithromycin can have severe side effects with certain heart conditons. New study just out.
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