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.”

More Hallucinations

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, Floxin and Levaquin¬†(the generic names are¬†ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin and 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. Nitin

    I had taken Ofloxacin following a dental treatment. I had multiple treatment over a period of 5 years. First time, no symptoms, second time, minor symptoms delayed and did not attribute it to the antibiotics. Third time, it caused a huge amount of muscle weakness and dry skin, fatigue and some eye symptoms. Fourth time, it developed a full fledged toxicity with CNS symptoms including anxiety depression, fogginess of brain and imbalance. I had muscle and joint pain and it seems my limb muscles have shrunken and face is shrunk. Eye blurring and diplopia set in. Completely drained of energy. Sex drive became zero. GI Upset. It was devastating.

    Ultimately the usual treatment – good diet, walking as much as possible, vitamins, minerals, probiotics.

    What helped me was Ayurvedic detox – but it took about 3 months and my 80% symptoms are disappeared. Hope the rest goes away.

    In short, FQ drugs are poison!

  2. Pavla

    I am cripple by taking levofloxacin for 10 days with steroids.
    Lost of smell, taste, temperature, no urge to urinate/ xxx, my body burning, pin, electric feeling, hair loss, sweating, peeling skin, practically, no brain at all. No job, going from doctor to doctor, er, urgent care, dentist…. Nobody believe, that damage cause levofloxacin. Divorce….my husband can’t handle that anymore.

    • Lin

      What is an ayuvedic detox?

  3. Lisa

    I was given an injection of Levaquin and the n7 days . I started having pain in my hands and was told to stop taking the meds immediately. It has been a week now and I have been to ER as well as 4 doctors . Nobody seems to know what is going on . I started getting a rash on chest that went to belly back and now face . I have chest pain as well as pain in my forearms and hands . I was just put on prednisone for hives . No one can tell me why my heart is still hurting . Many tests have shown nothing’s wrong with my heart , but it sure feels like there is . I wish everyone luck and pray for everyone that is going through this . It has been terrible.

  4. Janet
    Alameda, CA

    I was diagnosed with bacterial pneumonia in February 2015 and treated in the hospital with I tensive corticosteroid therapy. Upon discharge I was given five day prescription of levofloxacin. On the second day (2 pills) I was experiencing pain in my Achilles’ tendons. After 4 pills I couldn’t walk. I passed on the last pill. It took me months of physical therapy to be ale to regain some semblence of normalcy. But then at almost exactly 6 months after those four pills, my left Achilles’ tendon ruptured. Now, a year and several months later I have been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy in both feel, a very painful and permanent condition that the neurologist attributes to that tiny dose of Levofloxacin. The doctor that originally prescribed it should have known about my high risk status (70 years old and on massive corticosteroid treatment), the pharmacy that filled it gave no consultation nor did the enclosed medication information have any “black box” warning. I’m now concerned about the rising incidence of aortic aneurysm caused by levofloxacin and whether, even after well over a year, I am at risk.

  5. Sharon
    Rogers, AR

    I was floxed on Jan 7, 2016. I took four 500 mg tablets before I called the doctor, unable to walk.
    They immediately took me off them and switched to Zpack. I’ve NEVER had a reaction like this to an antibiotic. I am in continuous agonizing pain, spasms and tightening of muscles and tendons. I am being very careful to protect my achilles tendons, TMJ areas and some muscle or tendon in the right side of my throat that aches when I talk, swallow, etc. and makes my voice “go out” when I talk for an extended time, I am constantly clearing my throat. I am scared to death and have no idea where to turn or what to do! I HAVE trouble at work – my mind is foggy and I lose words and forget everything, I feel old before my time.

  6. Kurt
    Salt Lake City

    2 weeks of 500 mg of Cipro 2x daily went smoothly until I stopped. Then my entire body has itched and my face feels sunburned. It’s been 3 weeks and I’m treating with prednisone, Benadryl and Zyrtec. My symptoms are not worsening but gradually improving (or maybe I’m just getting used to them). I highly recommend a safe benzo like Klonopin to help with the anxiety that is created by the symptoms. I used the drug for Prostatitis that probably wasn’t even bacterial. Not sure I’d ever take Cipro again….for anything including anthrax. And I’m serious.

  7. Carla

    I was put on Cipro twice within a 3 month period. The first time it was for an infection on my leg. I took 500 mg twice a day for ten days. I experienced no problems. Then about 2 and half months later, I started experiencing severe lower back pain. My doctor thought I had a UTI and prescribed more Cipro. I was suppose to take it twice daily for 7 days. I had to stop after 4 days because my back pain became worse and I was passing pink urine. I found out when my urine culture results came back that I never had a UTI. The symptoms I was having were the results of my earlier Cipro treatment. Over the next month I started experiencing tendon pain in my ankles, shoulders and knees. I woke twice to find that I could not control either my left or right foot. My doctor did not believe it was from Cipro. I started self medicating with supplements. I continue to develop new symptoms such as burning, tingling and itching all over my body, as well as tendon pain and swelling in my hands and wrists. It has been 2 months since I stopped taking Cipro. I now wear braces on my ankles and walk with a cane. I have not been able to return to my job. I warn everyone about the dangers of this antibiotic and other related medications. A person can experience poisoning from Cipro months after going off of it, making it harder to pinpoint Cipro as the culprit. I wish the best for anyone recovering from taking it.

  8. Max

    I just started taking Cipro and Flowmax this week for Prostatitus (inflammation of the prostate) with a bit of interstitial cystitis. I am having like little flash-back visions that are very weird and some confusion (I’m having a hard time typing this, like putting in words twice more than once). I was searching and discovered this post, as well as a couple NIH papers that suggest what I’m experiencing is real. Thanks. If it gets worse I’ll bail off this drug and ask for another. I’ve had Cipro before and seemed to tolerate it, but this time it’s “like wow man”, Tommy Chong time dude… :)

  9. Denise

    I have been prescribed antiobiotics for numerous things mainly bladder infection constant I was really bad around 10 months ago I had to go in and have gentimycin intro . Which I wasn’t sure really if I could have anyway 3 days of that was givin every two hours did feel a little better then step down givin ciprofloxacin.

    it is not a drug I will take again horrible sweating with it very bad headaches throbbing in the stomach I can tell when I have a infection how I feel really ill was once on a antibiotic for 3/5 years keflex never even got reviewed absolute joke some doctors God knows what that has done to me I constantly have infections awaiting the urologist to do something about it but you know. What hospitals are like if anyone knows why you are permanent infected pls advise has I am at my wits end. But I would not advise anyone to take cipro ( bad drug ) dJ

  10. palua

    Hi how you are doing today. I took exactly the s as me amount as you do that has destroy my body. The worst part is I am not able to sleep any longer (this is not insomnia but the chatasthropy of my central nervous system that control my sleep snd wake pattern now counting the days to the dark abyss since new problem arise because no sleep dropping my immune system. Its already three months as nd I as m bed ridden

  11. Anne

    i took this medication 4 years ago. After 3 pills I hurt in ever joint. I called the pharmisist and he told me to stop immediately. It took awhile but most of the pain subsided although I still have mild pain in both shoulders. I will never take this family of drugs again.

    • ann

      After taking 3 pills , one per day 500 mg I couldn’t walk across the room without gasping for breath. It felt like I was being pressed down by gravity. Strange feeling, don”t really know how to describe it. I quit taking it , this is the second day without it but I still feel bad.

  12. Janna

    I am 77-year-old diabetic. Was prescribed cipro for an infection from a bite on my leg. I still (2 years later) have neuropathy in that foot and leg, caused either by the cipro or by the cortisone prescribed when the cipro didn’t work.

  13. Jim

    On June 24, 2015, I started a 7 day treatment of Levofloxacin (generic Levaquin) and on September 10, 2015 I started a 10 day treatment, every other day, of Levofloxacin.

    On September 29, 2015 an echo stress test was cancelled when an aortic aneurism was discovered during the test.

    I am now awaiting open surgery at Duke.


  14. anxiety sucks

    2 weeks of cipro 500 2x per day. Severe anxiety night sweats, paranoid, jerking in sleep, electrical zaps, throat feels different, difficulty swollowing and my vision has changed. Also, I think I have nerve damage, forearms randomly get numb. The air blowing on my arms from the AC hurts my skin. Major fatigue all the time, heat intolerance, I sweat like crazy when I’m outside and can’t play with my son for more than 30 min without being wore out and soaking wet from sweat. This is all from the damn nerve damage. Pins and neadles in feet along with acid reflux and constipation. Yeah, I’ve also had horrible thoughts too. I’ve been a very happy person my whole life, now I’m very emotional and don’t want to leave the house. I’m faking it and trying to make it but this shit drug has changed my personality and I feel I’ll never be the same. Praying one day ill recover from this nightmare. I do hear my tendons popping too but haven’t really had much pain in my joints, yet anyway. They say the tendon damage can happen months after you’ve quit taking the drug though.
    IDK what to think or do to get better.

  15. Jennifer

    On April 5th of 2015 I had taken Cipro which had been persecutors me for a suspected UTI. My urine culture was clean, but they treat the symptoms. I later found out I have something called interstitial cystitis. (Painful bladder disease which mimics a UTI) anyways I was fine for about the first 40 minutes, then I broke out in hives and couldn’t breath. My face started swelling and my skin became really hot and bright red. I was having anaphylactic shock. I ended up in the emergency room and now carry a epi pen . I thought that was the end of it, but no it only got worse. I started having really high anxiety at random times. My throat hasn’t fully gone back to is normal size as of yet, and I still have reaction symptoms periodically throughout the day. Im so paranoid now about taking or eating anything. Which I know is crazy! My doctor said she thought I had ptsd and should talk to someone. I might have some shell shock, but I know these symptoms aren’t in my head. To this day I have shortness of breath, difficulty remembering things, itchy legs and arms, swollen nasal passage, and ha e developed a cyst on the back of my throat near where my tonsils used to be. I went to a ENT doctor and he did a scope down my nasal passage. It was pretty normal looking mi us some yellow spots and a little inflammation. Reading these post from others gives me hope that in time these symptoms will subside and I’m not crazy. I have never reacted to something like this and I had a allergic reaction in the past that let no lingering side affects. Maybe this will help someone else out there looking for answers.

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