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What are fluoroquinolones?

Nearly all quinolone antibiotics in use are fluoroquinolones, which contain a fluorine atom in their chemical structure and are effective against both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria.

Fluoroquinolones “kill bacteria by blocking enzymes which normally untangle DNA during cell replication. Usually, these enzymes cut DNA’s double helix, pass another part of the strand through the gap, and then mend the cut. 

But quinolones bind to the enzymes, preventing them from mending their cuts. In the 1980s, researchers added fluorine atoms to the quinolones’ structures. This allowed the antibiotics to penetrate tissues throughout the body, including the central nervous system, and boosted their effectiveness against a broad range of bacterial infections.” (2)

Fluoroquinolones are of value in certain infections, including some life-threatening ones, where alternative antibiotics are not sufficiently effective.

But fluoroquinolones, as with many antibiotics, have been overused. Serious side effects have been associated with them over the years, and numerous cautions from the FDA limit their use. A number of label changes have been mandated, and some fluoroquinolones even have black box warnings. (3)

Which antibiotics are fluoroquinolones?

These medicines include ciprofloxacin (Cipro), gemifloxacin (Factive), levofloxacin (Levaquin), moxifloxacin (Avelox), norfloxacin (Noroxin), and ofloxacin (Floxin).

What is fluoroquinolone toxicity syndrome?

Signs + Symptoms

Fluoroquinolone drugs have been linked to some potentially serious, long-term, and permanently disabling side effects, including toxicity to the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and musculoskeletal system. Other Cipro toxicity symptoms include:

  • Mitochondrial dysfunction and DNA damage

  • Brain Fog

  • Peripheral Neuropathy

  • Blurry Vision 

  • DNA Damage

  • Anxiety/Depression due to the effect and Gaba and Gut Damage

  • Tendonitis

  • Muscle Atrophy

  • Increased reflexes

  • POTS Syndrome


Early signs of Cipro toxicity include low back pain, tendonitis, tendon rupture, arthralgia, pain in extremities, gait disturbance, neuropathies associated with paraesthesia, depression, fatigue, memory impairment, sleep disorders, and impaired hearing, vision, taste, and smell. Long term, fluoroquinolones may increase the risk of peripheral neuropathy by 47%.


Ciprofloxacin is shown to inhibit normal maintenance and transcription of mitochondrial DNA by changing mtDNA topology. Mitochondrial damage to tenocytes during fluoroquinolone treatment may be involved in tendinitis and tendon rupture. It can also lead to fatigue, and inflammation.

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