Multiple Sclerosis Community
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Avatar universal

Antibiotic and MS

Hi there,
My friend had a cyst after Christmas on her back that was causing her pain. Instead of cutting or draining the cyst, the Urgent Care gave her an antibiotic to remove the cyst. Soon after (a week or so), she began feeling numbness and tingliness in her hands. It spread to her stomach. It became unbearable so she went the ER.
They did an MRI a week later and today she was diagnosed with MS.

Something seems off here to me... She has never had these symptoms of MS until after that antibiotic.
She has had a cyst in that area in the past and they did surgically remove it. I feel like it was caused by the antibiotic. I just don't understand.... Does anyone have an opinion on this or know of a similar situation?
19 Responses
667078 tn?1316004535
I did not know I had MS symptoms until my doctor found the MS. He had to at least have a positive MRI with MS lesions and be diagnosed by a neurologist. Usually the ER sends you to a neurologist that diagnoses MS.

It would be rare but may be had the MS genetics and the antibiotic triggered it. She had to all ready have the gene for MS.

1382889 tn?1505074793
First, I don't think the antibiotic was given to your friend to "remove" the cyst, it was probably given to help with an infection caused by the cyst. Infections can cause some of us with MS to have flares or MS symptoms b/c our body's immune system is reacting to the infection (MS involves our immune system attacking our central nervous system). So it's possible her infection is really what caused her symptoms to occur.

I have heard of some classes of antibiotics causing numbness in rare circumstances BUT never heard that using an antibiotic was a high risk activity that might contribute to getting MS.  

MS usually takes a while to diagnose and it complicated to diagnose. If she was diagnosed with the help of an MRI, there most likely was evidence of past and current lesions. Past lesions means old disease activity (older than 30-40 days).  It is possible to have lesions with no symptoms.  

So just b/c she hadn't experienced numbness before doesn't mean she hasn't had MS for a while, just no symptoms, or none that she recognized.  MS symptoms are varied.

It is thought that people can develop MS from environmental triggers that effect the immune system (like a virus) and that some people may also be predisposed (genetic) to developing MS.   I have never heard of an antibiotic being a possible trigger. Maybe others here can add to the discussion on that subject.

Had she never had an antibiotic before?  If your friend thinks there is a link, I would encourage you to encourage her to discuss this with her doctor. Perhaps he/she could better address her concerns.

1382889 tn?1505074793
A post script...

I read a few years ago about some newer antibiotics causing numbness like symptoms in some people.  But having numbness from an antibiotic is very different than an antibiotic "causing MS".

Numbness is a symptom not exclusive to MS.  

5112396 tn?1378021583
No. The MS diagnosis and the use of the antibiotic exist as two unique, separate incidents. Things that happen close together in a time period can seem like they're related, but that fact alone does not prove that they are. If she developed those symptoms, her MS has likely been percolating for a lot longer than one week.

The pithy phrase I always repeat to myself when I find I'm jumping to conclusions is "Correlation does not imply causation". In other words, things may well seem connected, but that doesn't mean they caused each other. It's a principle of the scientific method.

The even fancier version is "post hoc ergo propter hoc" logical fallacy. "The fallacy lies in coming to a conclusion based solely on the order of events, rather than taking into account other factors that might rule out the connection."
1831849 tn?1383231992
Hi Brooke - I'm sorry your friend is having a tough time.

As has been pointed out, it is unlikely that the cyst or antibiotic use has anything to do with MS. MS can often be a tricky diagnosis and coincidental issues, like the cyst, just serve to muddy the waters.

As difficult as it can be te get an MS diagnosis, it's not always that way. From my first PCP visit to the final verdict was about 8 weeks for me. In thise 8 weeks I saw a regular neurologist and 2 MS specialists. I also rang every bell that could be rung, MS wise. I had old, inactive lesions and new active ones. All my blood work ruled out MS mimics. My LP results showed oligoclonal bands unique to my cerebral spinal fluid. Last and most importantly, my clinical exams were comical. I would not have passed a field spbriety test :-)

My case is among the speediest I've seen. It is surprising that your friend got a diagnosis in about a week. DO you know what kind of doctor mae the diagnosis?

1831849 tn?1383231992
PS- Urgent care facilities should be avoided if at all possible. I go to a 'local one when I have a bladder infection and need antibiotics. I have had a few and know the sysmptoms. It's not worth traveling into the city to see my regular doc. The last time I went the doctor told me Men don't get bladder infections. I asked him how many men with MS he had seen :-) Asnwer = 1, me !

During my last relapse I was getting 5 days of IV steroids at home. I needed to have the "port" changed after day 3. I went to the local Doc in the Box. THe doc seemed to be mystified. He took the top part off without clamping the bottom part. I looked like Dan Akroyd imitating Julia Child :-)


Avatar universal
Thanks for your comment. I agree- a week is really quick to make such a serious diagnosis. That's what concerned me... Putting a label on her when it could be a side affect or something from an antibiotic (the body can react to drugs in crazy ways) She is going to be studied for the next 5 days.
They did the lumbar test today and have more to do this week. I'm glad they are doing more tests!
Avatar universal
I see what you're saying. Thank you for your response!
Avatar universal
Yeah I suppose I could have worded that differently. Basically I just wanted to know if anyone had an experience similar or knows of an allergic reaction that can trigger MS-like symptoms. They are doing more tests this week on her.
Avatar universal
Yes I see what you're saying. I was just wondering if there were any similar cases where they were linked or even MS-like symptoms were linked to a side effect of an antibiotic. It could be coincidence, but what type of friend would I be if I didn't ask around. If a group of people has the flu-like symptoms and they all drank from the same new well... Is it really the flu or an effect from drinking the water. I think its good to ask these sorts of questions. For curiosity and for possibly giving someone helpful information. Thanks for responding!
Avatar universal
To your first comment lol.... Thank you for your thorough response! I appreciate your insight. That's exactly what I was hoping was that maybe someone did have information about different triggers or rare side effects of antibiotics that mimic MS. No known relatives have MS, but like you said there are environmental triggers.

Right- that raised concern for me too. They hadn't done many tests. Only 1 MRI. But now I'm glad to know they will be doing many tests this week to really figure out whats going on. Perhaps my worry was because of the hasty diagnosis when everything I've read online says MS is diagnosed over time with tests (plural), studies, and more information about the individual.

I don't know if she's had that specific antibiotic before... I just know last time she had a cyst in that same area, it was surgically removed.
I have been on Augmentin for six days and my legs when lying down feel like popcorn popping under my skin
Avatar universal
I'm a 17 year old female and have been experiencing pretty sketchy symptoms similar to your friend's. In November 2014 I had about a week long episode of numbness all around my body. It didn't occur on one side of the body or in the same place every time and always went away and then returned. I visited the ER- they didn't do much- just lots of bloodwork which all came out fine (including B12.) Visited primary care doctor too and they did lots of bloodwork ruling out HIV, syphillis. These sensations completely went away for two months and came back about a week and a half ago. The sensations almost feel like tightness on my skin and sometimes only occur in patches. One moment it will be on my left arm and then a couple hours later it would occur on my face. Only a few times did I experience weakness in a limb- but none of them corresponding- always seemed random. I just got back from the neurologist today and he noticed that one of my pupils is only slightly bigger in one eye. He also noted that I have indistinct optic discs in my eyes (whatever that means?) but he was pretty clear that he wasn't concerned. He mentioned my reflexes were a little bit brisk (legs specifically I think) and told me he would do an MRI to respect my concerns but didn't think it was totally necessary. He ordered me to set up an appt with the eye doctor and told me he really didn't think it was anything serious.
I had a fairly rocky summer in terms of health- got pneumonia, pink eye a few times, 3 courses of antibiotics etc...
My twin sister has IBD and my dad had ankylosing spondylitis (both autoimmune diseases) so I'm very concerned! Had *serious* problems with anxiety ever since this summer- have tried researching whether this could all be due to that. Any thoughts?? Please!!! I'm driving myself crazy and pretty much have diagnosed myself with a million things.
Also- not having problems with vertigo, vision, balance/coordination, speech etc. The neuro I saw today said everything was clear except for the eyes and slightly brisk reflexes, which he said could all just be nothing. I also have mild scoliosis and a swollen lymph node right below my jaw line. I have pretty bad sinus problems (allergic rhinitus) so I was told that could be why it is swollen. PLEASE help! Thanks
Avatar universal
Hi there. It would be best to start your own thread, which would leave this one for Brooke, and would most likely get you more responses and opinions. However, I will comment here.

The fact that your symptoms move around and range from patches to large areas is a strong indicator that this is not MS. Because MS is a disease involving distinct lesions in distinct places in the central nervous system means that these lesions cause symptoms in distinct places as well. Such places do not heal over from hour to hour or day to day. Damage has been done that repairs itself relatively slowly if at all, and new damage causing similar sensations but in different places does not regularly occur. So as I read your post I was thinking that MS is very unlikely to be the answer.

Then, though, I read further that you have severe health anxiety because of a family history of autoimmune diseases, and I was all the more convinced I was right. If you have checked out well in health examinations be glad--anxiety is much more easily treated, so I hope you'll pursue this.

Best of luck,
Avatar universal
Thank you soooo much for replying your response gave me just about the only wave of positive thoughts I've had all day!

Still all very puzzling but that definitely sets me at ease a bit more. Thanks for your help once again!!!!
Avatar universal
Hi all,

I've posted on this board before but under a different name...can't remember that login.

Anyway I developed MS symptoms (dizziness , visual disturbances, tingling, fatigur, muscle weakness) after an antiobiotic which also caused Candida. I thought I had MS for about a year but had a negative MRI and spinal tsp. However, going on a Candida diet made a significant difference on my symptoms. I thought it was just a coincidence but read that there are 2 research articles linking candida to MS and how a Candida diet can significantly help with MS symptoms.

After reading that I'm worried again and wondered what you all thought.
987762 tn?1331031553
Please be aware of where you are getting your information from, there is no reputable MS organisation in the world that supports this theory, if it was true they would be promoting the candida connection and diet to all MSers over the world.

Antibiotic's do not cause MS, though adverse reactions to medications can cause symptoms that 'mimic' similar symptoms of those associated with MS, but they are totally not the same causation! Which is one reason why a candida diet does not significantly help or produce any improvement to symptoms that are caused by brain and or spinal cord lesions (MS).

If your prior symptoms have returned then it's advisable to seek medical attention but if your 'only' worried because of reading about candida being linked to MS then i don't think you need to be concerned......

Avatar universal
Thanks supermum. I had mainly put MS to bed so i will try not to freak myself out about this. Thank you!!
Avatar universal
Thanks supermum. I had mainly put MS to bed so i will try not to freak myself out about this. Thank you!!
Avatar universal
I am currently suffering from MS like symptoms from a delayed allergic reaction to Macrobid. Symptoms include peripheral neuropathy in my hands that come and go, as well as attacks of severe itching/burning sensations all over my body that move around and disappear by it's own will. Also, my skin sometimes gets red patches that come and go, along with burning sensations. It really sucks.

I also got severe peripheral neuropathy in my hands and feet after a course of Cipro a few years back. It was hell for a month or so, but it resolved itself.

So yes, antibiotics can definitely cause MS like symptoms. I never want to take them again.
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