Our first concern about fluoroquinolone antibiotics occurred in July of 1994 when we received the following question from a reader of our newspaper column:
“I often have side effects from medicines, but have never experienced anything like Floxin. I took it for a severe sinus infection followed by pneumonia last winter. After three days of utter misery and a rash on my back, I started hallucinating. Are there other people who have had a bad reaction to this antibiotic?”
After some checking we learned that this kind of antibiotic (a fluoroquinolone) could indeed cause “hallucinations, visual disturbances confusion, dizziness and seizures.”
One month later we heard from another reader:
“My heart went out to the woman who suffered hallucinations while taking the antibiotic Floxin. I too suffered a violent reaction to this drug. I took it for two days and became very nauseated. By the third day I not only felt listless, nervous and sick, but when I went to bed I couldn’t sleep and began having violent multi-colored hallucinations.
“After two nights of almost no sleep, accompanied by hallucinations, I asked my physician for something else. At first she was reluctant, but when she understood there was no way I’d take any more Floxin, she gave me a different prescription. I think Floxin is a frightening drug and I hope you will warn your readers that the side effects of Floxin may be more common than previously thought.”

Not long after we heard about these problems we talked with the journalist Stephen Fried about his wife’s experience with Floxin. She took one Floxin pill to treat a urinary tract infections and suffered severe neurological symptoms that lasted years. The incredible story is documented in the book Bitter Pills. They called their experience being “Floxed.”
Fast forward to Feb. 14, 2010, and the comment from J & G posted on this Web site. Quinolone-type antibiotics are still causing serious complications. We don’t know why some people are so susceptible to these drugs, but there is clearly a problem, and to this day many physicians seem unaware of the psychological and neurological complications of drugs such as Cipro (ciprofloxacin), Floxin (ofloxacin) and Levaquin (levofloxacin).
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
My husband and I were very healthy marathon-running 35-year-olds. Two months previous to this we had both just qualified for the cheapest life insurance for the healthiest groups.
My husband and I were prescribed Cipro (for him) and Levaquin (for me) for a stomach bug they couldn’t diagnose. My MD said to me when I questioned whether or not I had to take it “well, if it’s a virus, nothing bad will happen.”
Within half an hour after talking the antibiotics we both had severe anxiety, insomnia (to the point where we were only sleeping 2 or 3 hours a night), nightmares, diarrhea (we had episodes of it every few days and I am still having diarrhea six months later even though I have tested negative for C. diff four times), strange thoughts, muscle pain, tingling, and shooting pains in our arms and legs.
I have never experienced anything like it in my life. Neither of us had ever had any reaction to a drug before.
We were off work for about 11 weeks. Six months later the symptoms are starting to subside although my husband still has tingling and weird nightmares and I have problems occasionally. We have seen nine doctors and they either outright deny or have not admitted that the Cipro or Levaquin could have anything to do with our symptoms.
We finally saw an infectious disease doctor at a major hospital who said he had had three other patients who felt they had the same long lasting effects from either Cipro or Levaquin, but he couldn’t find any evidence to support it.
Two other infectious disease doctors suggested that we had ciguatoxin poisoning, but we had not eaten the types of fish that can cause it. When we pointed out that we both had started these symptoms within about half an hour of taking the medicine (even though my husband and I took the antibiotics two weeks apart from each other) they flat out discounted that it could be the cause.
We finally just decided we just had to help ourselves to get better and we started to eat a lot of live sauerkraut (which seems to have helped get our digestion somewhat back) and eat very healthfully (lots of greens and brown rice) and get a lot of rest. That seems to be the only thing that has helped. We will not take a fluoroquinolone antibiotic ever again.
J & G

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  1. Michelle
    Reply

    They are on the market in order to reduce and cure in lung infection.

  2. Lynne D.
    Reply

    I had a hallucinatory experience on cipro, and up until this day, I still take anti depressants. Its been 21 yrs now, and what I don’t understand is why are these pills still allowed on the market?

  3. SEM
    Reply

    Recently, I was prescribed Levofloxacin (500mg) once daily for an what was thought to be bladder infection or stones. The next day my blood and urine test were normal/no signs of infection but I wasn’t told until I inquired another two days later. When I questioned my doctor’s nurse about continuting to take rest of the meds (and she talked with the doc) the response was to “continue to take or I may be resistant in the future”. This did not make sense. I have heard and understand “continue to take or may not fully clear the infection” but not that the drug not work in the future. I continued as there also was not a resolution to what else the source of my side pain could be. Prior to taking I was also concerned about my use of steroids for an eye inflammation problem and its interactions with this drug (increased risk of tendonitis up to six months post). Since I seem to always read too much of the drug facts and have too many questions, I decided to trust my doctors benefit/cost analysis which I assumed was taken into consideration. Thankfully, I have not had any severe side effects.

  4. Jimmy
    Reply

    You said that you DID have a tendonitis reaction. Did your symptoms eventually diminish and did you return to normal? If so, what kind of timeline did you improve? So hard to find anything anywhere on the internet where people actually say they had some reaction but it went away. Almost all are horrible life long debilitating results. To me, there has to have been some cases where people had reactions at first, but then improved over the next few weeks to couple of months and made full recovery. Please respond if any like this are out there.
    Thank you.

  5. Tom B.
    Reply

    I was prescribed Cipro for a sinus infection and I will never take it again. This stuff is nothing to play with. Yes, it helped with the sinus infection, but after three days on it I went back to my doctor and told them what was going on, and the nurse immediately began arguing with me saying that Cipro couldn’t be, and wasn’t causing the symptoms. I explained that I wasn’t getting more than a couple of hours of sleep every night and I felt short of breath. I told her that the first night my heart was racing. She finally agreed to put me on Azithromycin which I just started today. Cipro? Never again for me.

  6. Tom B.
    Reply

    I was prescribed Cipro for a sinus infection and I will never take it again. This stuff is nothing to play with. Yes, it helped with the sinus infection, but after three days on it I went back to my doctor and told them what was going on, and the nurse immediately began arguing with me saying that Cipro couldn’t be, and wasn’t causing the symptoms. I explained that I wasn’t getting more than a couple of hours of sleep every night and I felt short of breath. I told her that the first night my heart was racing. She finally agreed to put me on Azithromycin which I just started today. Cipro? Never again for me.

  7. CAW
    Reply

    Read that the Indian firm Raxby was cited for making a bad generic Cipro and wonder if many of those who suffer from such side effects could have come from the generic and not the real thing. I have sworn off Generic and will pay out of my pocket for the real thing. But I will never take Cipro or levaquin or any of that family again.

  8. Ng
    Reply

    It’s one thing to have a side effect like a passing rash or passing nausea or passing indigestion in a few percent of patients. But what if even 0.1% of patients have life altering or near life altering side effects? We all know that all drugs have side effects but you need to multiply the severity of side effects by the frequency of those side effects to determine whether the drug stays on the market. The large pharma companies have billions of dollars at stake on these drugs and often don’t do enough follow-up to determine the safety of their drugs. You don’t know just how many people have been damaged by these drugs, most don’t connect the dots. The people on this website are no doubt a small fraction of the damage. Thanks. Regards. Ned.

  9. Ng
    Reply

    I am a 59 year old male with a strange history of connective tissue weakness which my doctors only know too well about. I have always referred to it as Ned’s syndrome. Now I’m wondering if it was not somehow related to Cipro or Levaquin poisoning from a prescription long ago.
    Anyway, I went to the doctor in late December last year for prostate pain and was given Levaquin 500 mg for 14 days. After two days I developed bad pain in my hamstrings for no reason, hard and painful to walk. Called my doctor and he said it couldn’t be the antibiotic. Kept taking the stuff for another 6 days with pain getting worse, walking with severe limp.
    Stopped taking Levaquin and did some research and was horrified to find the horror stories about this drug. It is 6 weeks since I stopped taking the drug and my hamstrings still hurt although not limping as much. I have also had periodic blurred vision reading the scrolling news on espn or cnbc in the morning which I never did before. My eyes feel kind of dry. I also have some skin dryness around my ankles and back. I also have some back pain that can keep me up at night.
    I have just started taking magnesium and l-glutamine, vitamin b12 and flora for digestion. I’m praying that I don’t develop more severe symptoms as time passes and get better. I know all drugs have their side effects, but if there are enough patients with such life altering ones as with this class of antibiotic, I would think it should only be prescribed as a last resort! For me this has been terrible. Nausea or a passing headache is an acceptable side affect, not what I’m finding out about Cipro and Levaquin. Why hasn’t the FDA forced the drug companies that make these drugs do research into treating the horrible side affects so they could at least recommend things affected people could do, that’s the least they could do for whatever percent have our issues. Good luck everyone and keep the information coming. Thanks. Regards. Ned.

  10. S.Johnson
    Reply

    I started out with what they thought was a bladder infection.. I was prescribed Bactrim, and it seemed to help. Two days after taking the Bactrim, I was still having burning when I urinated. I went back to my doctor and he prescribed Cipro, 500mg 2 x’s a day. I had taken Cipro about 10 months prior and had felt yukky on it, but didn’t have any serious side effects (or so I didn’t think). I started taking the Cipro. By day 3 I started feeling like I had the flu. By day 4 I felt even worse, so I stopped taking it. After about a week after I stopped the Cipro, I started feeling an intense ache in my lower back on the right hand side, that went down into my right buttock and my right hip, and I had a fluctuating low grade temperature. It would fluctuate from 97.9 to 98.4 back to 97.9 all day long.
    I wound up in the hospital that evening, because it had gotten so intense and painful that I couldn’t even walk. They ran some tests and said they couldn’t find anything. I didn’t really know at the time to try to attribute it to the Cipro. Within a few days after my hospital visit, I started feeling pain in the arch of my right foot and down the tibia bone of my right leg. Now, today, I feel pain in my left Achilles tendon, the back of both of my knees, the skin on my face is burning and pain in my right knee, and I still have the fluctuating temperature. I am scared that this is only going to get worse. Is there anything that I can do right now to stop the progression of what might be to come?

  11. Becki
    Reply

    I was prescribed cipro after a tummy tuck that got very badly infected. It’s cleared up the infection, but I cannot sleep. My insomnia is destroying me from the inside out, I’m spaced out, unable to function properly and my hair is falling out. I’m paranoid, anxious, and a mess.
    I went to 2 different doctors about the insomnia – neither said it was anything to do with the antibiotics, and one told me it was all in my mind.
    I have stopped taking the cipro now, but I am terrified after investigating a little bit that my symptoms will not disappear when the drug leaves my system.

  12. Jeb
    Reply

    I was prescribed cipro 500mg twice a day for 10 days. I took 4 doses and has to quit. I broke out in a rash all over my torso and face, the rash is fading some on torso but getting worse on my face and it’s been a few days since I have stopped the meds. Also I can not sleep at night, and my mind is a blur, I keep spacing out and feel like I am out of it.
    I was prescribed this for a possible UTI or kidney infection, which I guess I had neither (tests were inconclusive) my fever of 5 days went away on its own. I would never take Cipro again! It does have a black box warning but it should be pulled off the market.

  13. PJY Cipro Victim
    Reply

    I have been given Cipro about 5 times in the last decade. First time I took it when I was about 30 for a routine infection. I was an athletic person and used to be superior to 90% of my friends in physical strength and agility, and education- having masters’ degrees in several fields.
    For the last 6 years, I have all my joints and muscles crippled- feet, heels, ankles, knees, hips, neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers; brain gets some kind of wave every few minutes, brain fog, increased forgetfulness, high sweat condition ending with no sweat condition, dry eyes, dry mouth, dry skin, nose infections, hair loss, muscle replaced by fat, with cartilage loss all over the body, peripheral neuropathy with loss of sensation and involuntary twitching and jerking of muscles, nerve damage, loss of physical balance and tendency to fall, emotional ups and downs, not able to remember correct words during speech, loosing temper/control and the list goes, Very low Blood pressure, heart rate going down to as low as 40.
    I am so crippled that, when I enter the car, I need to help my left leg with my hands to lift it into the car. Sleeplessness is another major issue- I stopped yawning for the most part and if you can’t sleep your recent memory/experiences will not imprint on your brain. And my biggest fear is if I have lost all the immunity and susceptible to all kinds of deadly infections. I already look and feel like 90 year old. Another fear is getting blind soon- because of the dry eyes, my vision is severely impaired- it used to be much better than 20/20.
    Saddest thing is doctors never listen to me and do not buy into Ciprofloxacin cause. By giving you a fluoroquinolone, they have created a brand new patient for life, who feeds the entire ill-health industry for reminder of his/her life.
    Now they call these conditions as fibromyalgia/psoriasis/arthritis/tendonitis/neuropathy and several other names, which are not, and then several specialists start treating these conditions with more drugs, more testing, more patients, fueling ill-health industry.
    Recently, I tried Magnesium supplement for a month- never know if it helps but may not harm in trying.

  14. Leiann
    Reply

    Went to doctor for UTI… gave me Cipro, Tylenol 3, & Ibuprofen… started feeling funny about an hour after the initial dose of Levoquin (?) at the doctors office but wanted to get better so I took the next 2 doses of Cipro. Started feeling worse. All over body itching along with muscle weakness, burning & fatigue. I stopped all the meds and went to the drug store to get a homeopathic remedy for UTI. I started feeling relief for the UTI within 24 hours. Remember, I only took a total of 3- 500mg tablets…its 5 weeks after taking these pills and I’m still having a lot of muscle weakness, pain, & fatigue along with occasional bouts of all over body itching spells. This antibiotic is a serious drug that needs to be researched a little more. I’m patiently waiting for these side effects to subside but so far it’s a daily issue with work and activities… can’t get around like before.

    • Michelle
      Reply

      and I thought I was just thinking I had these problems I have all the same symptoms

  15. Tiffany
    Reply

    Hello! I was recently prescribed Cipro, 500 mg twice a day for 5 days on Saturday, July 13th due to the UTI that I had. On day 1, was ok. On day 2, my entire body hurt and I didn’t feel right, but I ignored this and thought that it was because of the UTI and the flu that I had. By day 3, all of my muscles were hurting, but I still pressed on. By day 5, I was having severe abdominal pains, and by that evening, I was experiencing irregular bleeding, and muscle spasms that traveled from my neck to my back to my arm, and then finally my hand. I couldn’t hold anything in my left hand. I was sweating, and experiencing insomnia all 5 days of treatment. Whenever I did fall asleep, I would awaken with my heart pounding, and feeling like I had been dropped from a higher level of elevation.
    I chose to not take the last dose of the Cipro because I felt so horrible. The day after the spasms, my entire left side of my body was numb. I almost preferred the numbness, because when the feeling returned, I was in pain all over my legs, back,a rm and neck. I could barely walk up and down the stairs. My whole body felt stiff and sore.
    Two days after stopping the medication, I still felt horrible. I called my regular doctor, as well as Urgent Care and was told to go to the ER. I went to the ER, and although they acknowledged that my side effects were CIPRO related, there was nothing they could do for me. They told me to wait for it to get out of my system. They told me to cleanse by drinking water and eating “ruffage.” They verbally acknowledged CIPRO as the cause, but when they discharged me, they did not make mention of it at all in writing.
    Life After Cipro ?
    Well, I immediately began cleansing/detoxing as soon as I left the hospital. I started taking ibuprofen (3 at a time) every few hours for the inflammation and muscle/joint pain that I was in. I started taking a magnesium/calcium/zinc supplement and went in the pool every day after work to relax the muscles. Then, I took a bath in Epsom Salts (the Eucalyptus kind) and applied icy hot before bed.
    My muscles have definitely gotten better. It has been 16 days since I first took the medicine, 12 days since I last took a dose. I am hoping that I am almost out of the woods, and that I will return back to normal soon. I am slowly getting there, although I still have trouble sleeping, have sporadic blurred vision and stiffness.
    Hang in there everyone!

  16. CAW
    Reply

    Pancho, You are right both Cipro and Levaquin are in the floxon family and you shouldn’t take any of that family. Doctors just don’t want to acknowledge that people are allergic to them and have these reactions. Look up the names of the entire family and have your pharmacist note never to fill them for you.
    For me a sulfa class one will work for bladder and intestinal problems just as well.

  17. Pancho T.
    Reply

    My Gastroenterologist perscribed me Ciprofloxacin (Cipro, Xipro named here in The Philippines) 14 500mg tabs 2 times a day for a week with Metronidazole (Flagyl, Dazomet here in the Philippines) 32 500mg tabs to be taken 1 and 1/2 3x a day for a week because of some lower left abdominal pain and started last July 18 (night).
    I stopped taking Ciprofloxacin today (I took 3 all in all) because last night was the worst night of my life as if I thought I was dying. I couldn’t sleep, twitching muscles would wake me up, anxiety attacks, abdominal pains, back pains, fatigue, weakened arms, painful part around left shoulder (right in between the bicep and tricep), painful tendons everywhere.
    Mid day of July 19 (the day before I stopped taking Ciprofloxacin), I woke up feeling weak and have to get to an appointment with a Nephrologist then while waiting for my appointment, the tendon in my left knee started to feel restless and painful. I didn’t know yet what was causing it until I got home and researched about these drugs that were prescribed to me by my Gastroenterologist. I did not know what was prescribed to me is a very dangerous antibiotic.
    So, earlier today I went back to the doctor to tell him that I had an allergic reaction to Cipro. I did not get to talk to him because his secretary was receiving all the patients’ appointment sched. She then asked what was my concern, I told her about my allergic reaction which she wrote on a paper then she told me to wait for her to call me when its was my turn. A few minutes later, she got inside the office with an account of my allergic reaction to Cipro then got out a few seconds later with a new prescription REPLACING CIPRO WITH LEVOFLOXACIN (Levaquin).
    I got home, researched about the antibiotic and found out that its the same line of antibiotic as Cipro. Now I’m scared of taking the doctor’s advice because I might have the same reaction to Levaquin. Now I’m wondering when my allergic reactions to Cipro will stop (it’s been a day since the last pill). I still feel like crap but not as worse as last night. I still continue taking Flagyl.
    I just want to get better and hope that these side effects won’t be permanent. I’m 28 years old by the way.

  18. Mallow
    Reply

    Sounds like allergies to me. It can happen with any drug. I am very allergic to penicillin and whenever some dr gives it to me without reading my chart, I have terrible hallucinations nightmares nausea muscle pain and weakness etc. No one knows why I react so badly to penicillin based drugs I just do.
    Does this make it the drug’s fault? No it is simple biology. Doctors should be more attentive when prescribing of course – patients don’t know what drugs are in what family so the prescribing physician is responsible. Yes I do indeed have permanent damage from doctors giving me the wrong antibiotics. It is still not the drugs fault.
    All meds are poison of some sort. The idea is if you are not allergic they should do more good than harm. There is simply no such thing as a completely safe drug. All meds have side effects and yes they can be nasty. If you have a very bad reaction to a drug it is your responsibility to update your allergy record. Most of these situations of permanent damage being done could be avoided if medical staff would learn to read patient charts and take patient complaints seriously.
    As a student nurse I pray I never see the day when my negligence causes a patient any harm. However as a person allergic to penicillin what am I supposed to take when I get sick if everyone who is allergic to cipro and family, sulfa drugs, and all the others succeed in getting them taken off the market? I am presently taking cipro for a uti and have have no ill effects. I have been on cipro a few times before also. Nothing then either. Perhaps I should make people dependent on penicillin suffer for my allergies by petitioning for that to be taken off the market? Just update your allergy notes and be extra vigilant, seriously.
    The reason docs don’t take people seriously when they report these side effects is twofold. One – no one updates their darn charts they just complain online. Two – these kinds of reactions are rare. They happen about as often as surviving a lightening strike. Yes please do raise awareness that these allergic reactions happen, but don’t do it in a way that ruins things for the 95% of people who don’t get sick from these antibiotics. Especially since some people have no choice in what they are able to take when they get sick.

  19. Rose
    Reply

    I have been battling fibromyalgia for the past 10 years. I have tried everything but nothing seems to help. I never let it stop me from living but it drains you so much just to keep up with the pain. I finally had enough courage to ask my pharmacist to give me a list of antibiotics that I took in the past. He went as far back as 10 years ago and to my shock amazement I took Avelox 400mg for 10 days exactly around the time that all my pain started. Could this be a coincidence ? I don’t think so. Now that I have this information I will try to find someone that can finally help me. Wish me luck.

  20. Janet M.
    Reply

    I did get through 14 scripts of cipro in my life but was very tired all the time. The last 4 scripts of levaquin have finished me off. I am in 247 hornets nest over my entire body with itching.. I am about out of my mind.. I have gotten through the pain, tendons but this is the WORST and is so intense. I would just rather die soon.

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