Fluoroquinolones are some of the world’s most prescribed antibiotics, with a total of 32 million prescriptions in the US in 2015.
These heavily used antibiotics are so commonly prescribed because they are very effective at killing microbes – yet, for some people, they come with a dark side: they can harm human cells and lead to severe, long lasting side effects.
The potential side effects of fluoroquinolones
Many people develop chronic symptoms after taking a course of fluoroquinolone antibiotics and see their life change for the worst. These symptoms can be disabling and potentially permanent side effects of the tendons, muscles, joints, nerves, and central nervous system.
- Aortic aneurysms and ruptures (recently acknowledged by the FDA in 2018)
- Tendinitis and tendon ruptures
- Nervous system damage, including peripheral neuropathy, which causes weakness, pain and tingling sensations in the hands and feet
- Dangerous drops in blood sugar
- Mental changes, including attention problems, disorientation, agitation and delirium
- Aggravation of myasthenia gravis symptoms
They can occur in someone all at the same time. Some people will react after only 1 pill, some after a whole treatment and some others will react months later. In the majority of cases, the symptoms are long lasting and continue well after the treatment has ended.
My floxed story
In 2015 I took 14 pills of ciprofloxacin, one of the most commonly prescribed fluoroquinolone antibiotic, to heal a UTI. 2 weeks later, I was at the hospital in a wheelchair, unable to walk.
Ciprofloxacin damaged my muscles and nervous system in only 2 weeks.
At 25 years old, I couldn’t walk without collapsing, I couldn’t use any of my muscles without excruciating pain. I had constant brain fog, dizziness, hallucinations, and digestive issues. I couldn’t stand any sound, any light. I was sleeping 6 hours a day, 12 hours a night. After 2 years of misery, I started a Lyme treatment with cortisone pills that brought me further down the hole. I was at my worst.
At that moment, I decided to stop the treatment and let my body fight. Naturally.
That decision eventually saved my life.
It took me 5 years to understand what had happened to me, thanks to a French naturopath called Adam Nour, a specialist in chronic lyme disease, who made the link (Adam – THANK YOU. I will forever be grateful!)
He told me – ‘Julie… I don’t think that you have lyme disease. Your symptoms resemble very much of a fluoroquinolone toxicity’.
I almost fell off my chair as my mind was racing… ‘I’ve never heard of this thing’ – I thought. Adam then sent me a list of the names of these specific antibiotics and after confirming with my medical insurance, I had the proof that I had taken ciprofloxacin 2 weeks before my hell started.
It’s called being floxed.
And it might have happened to you or to someone you know.
What makes fluoroquinolones different from other antibiotics?
Quinolones were first developed in the 1960s. They kill bacteria in the body by blocking and binding to a certain set of enzymes called class II topoisomerases. But by biding to the enzymes, the quinolones prevent them from mending their cut. In the 1980s, scientists added fluorine atoms to the quinolone structure and made them more effective at fighting a broad range of bacterial infections. These fluorine atoms could now penetrate tissues throughout in the body, including the central nervous system.
And with that discovery, came a lot of dangerous and life threatening side effects that doctors and scientists took a long time to acknowledge. Some FDA approved fluoroquinolones were quietly taken off the market after severe side effects (damaged livers) and deaths – namely trovafloxacin, withdrawn from the market in 1999.
The most dangerous fluoroquinolones
Here is a list of the most commonly known fluoroquinolone antibiotics against which the FDA has issued a warning: (as a rule, avoid anything ending with ‘floxacin’):
- Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)
- Gemifloxacin (Factive)
- Moxifloxacin (Avelox)
- Levoflacin (Levaquin – known to rupture tendons)
- floxacin (Floxin(
- Norfloxacin (Noroxin)
Are fluoroquinolones still prescribed today?
Facing a lot of serious side effects reported after the take of fluoroquinolones and several class actions against fluoroquinolone manufacturers over the last decades, the FDA now advises against using fluoroquinolone antibiotic for the treatment of three common infections: acute sinusitis, acute bronchitis, and urinary tract infection without complications.
The FDA made this decision because the chances of serious side effects outweigh the benefits for most people.
In 2016, the FDA has passed a warning about serious musculoskeletal complications from fluoroquinolones antibiotics that is now included on the drug’s labels.
‘These medicines are associated with disabling and potentially permanent side effects of the tendons, muscles, joints, nerves, and central nervous system that can occur together in the same patient” – the FDA explained in 2016.
Today, sadly, doctors continue to prescribe fluoroquinolones like if they were candy. Most of them are not aware of their dangerous side effects, and a fraction of that would even remotely know what fluoroquinolone toxicity is and how to treat it.
List of ressources
You will find below a few links directing you to websites / created by fellow floxies to share what works best to recover and to educate the public:
https://www.fqtoxicity.com/ – this one sells a e-book that is quite informative
Dr. Mark Ghalili, regenerative medicine, LA, USA – has been using stem cell treatment to fight fluoroquinolone toxicity. (I have heard mixed results though)
In a next article I’ll share my current floxed protocol and what I found helped most to help recover from fluoroquinolone toxicity.
Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts below, and share your experience if you have been floxed too.