Autonomic Nervous System Dysfunction from Cipro, Levaquin, and other Fluoroquinolones

Many symptoms of fluoroquinolone toxicity involve autonomic nervous system dysfunction.

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) regulates bodily functions such as the heart rate, digestion, sweating, salivating, respiratory rate, pupillary response, urination, sexual arousal, and certain reflex actions such as coughing, sneezing, swallowing and vomiting. The ANS also controls the balance between the parasympathetic (the “rest and digest” or “feed and breed” system) and the sympathetic (fight or flight system) nervous systems.

Many fluoroquinolone toxicity victims/”floxies” (those who have been poisoned by Cipro/ciprofloxacin, Levaquin/levofloxacin, Avelox/moxifloxacin, Floxin/ofloxacin or other fluoroquinolone antibiotics) struggle with:

  • Digestive dysmotility
  • Either sweating too much or too little
  • Increased heart rate / racing heart
  • Breathing difficulty / air hunger
  • Increased frequency, urgency, and pain with urination
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Loss of libido
  • Dry mouth and dental problems
  • Dry eyes and vision problems
  • Adrenal dysfunction and fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Loss of balance
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty regulating blood-sugar levels

ANS dysfunction is also common among those with POTS/Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (“The hallmark sign of POTS is a measured increase in heart rate by at least 30 beats per minute within 10 minutes of assuming an upright position”), EDS/Ehlers–Danlos syndrome (a grouping of genetic connective tissue disorders), and MCAS/Mast cell activation syndrome or MCAD/mast cell activation disorder (an inflammatory immune system disorder that leads to many multi-symptom, chronic illness). ANS dysfunction is also a symptom of each of these illnesses.

Fluoroquinolone toxicity symptoms mimic and overlap with those of POTS, EDS, and MCAS/MCAD. All these disorders are multi-symptom, chronic illnesses for which there is no cure. In addition to causing ANS dysfunction, fluoroquinolone toxicity, like EDS, causes connective tissue damage, and like MCAS/MCAD, fluoroquinolone toxicity involves immune system dysfunction. There is significant overlap in symptoms, and maybe pathology, between fluoroquinolone toxicity, POTS, EDS, and MCAS/MCAD.

You can find many examples of ANS dysfunction (and other symptoms of fluoroquinolone toxicity that overlap with symptoms of POTS, EDS, and MCAS/MCAD) in the stories of fluoroquinolone toxicity on,, and here on Personally, I experienced several ANS dysfunction symptoms, including digestive dysmotility, increased heart rate, dry eyes, loss of balance, anxiety, adrenal fatigue, difficulty regulating blood-sugar levels, and I didn’t sweat for years after I was hurt by ciprofloxacin.

Most of my ANS dysfunction symptoms, along with all my other fluoroquinolone toxicity symptoms, have improved.

The thing that helped to improve my digestive motility most was supplementing hydrochloric acid (HCL). I think that probiotic supplements and foods, meditation, and time also helped to heal my digestive tract.

A Chinese herbal supplement called suxiao jiuxin wan helped to calm my racing heart. I think that acupuncture, stress reduction, and time also helped.

I can’t pinpoint anything specific that cured my dry eyes, inability to sweat, or loss of balance, but those symptoms have all subsided with time.

Anxiety is common among “floxies,” and it can be severe. The post, Treating Fluoroquinolone Anxiety, goes over some suggestions as to how to deal with it. Magnesium and uridine supplements helped me to get through fluoroquinolone-induced anxiety, and those supplements have helped others too. In addition to reading Treating Fluoroquinolone Anxiety, I also suggest reading some of the recovery stories from people who have recovered from fluoroquinolone toxicity anxiety, especially Marcela’s Story, Ruth’s Story, and Nick’s Story.

I still struggle with adrenal fatigue and difficulty regulating my blood-sugar. I tend to feel better when I reduce my stress levels, avoid caffeine, avoid alcohol, and cut out sugar. I’m imperfect about those things though.

ANS dysfunction, and the diseases associated with it (fluoroquinolone toxicity, as well as POTS, EDS, MCAS/MCAD, etc.) are serious, and often the symptoms of these diseases are severe and life-altering. They are not trivial, and there is no easy or simple “cure” for ANS dysfunction or any related diseases.

With the severity of ANS dysfunction and related diseases noted, I’m going to make a suggestion that I hope doesn’t seem too trite:

Love, connection, community, laughter, and peace can all help to heal the autonomic nervous system. Meditation and breathing exercises are helpful too. Anything that you can do to bring love, connection, community, laughter, and peace into your life will be helpful in healing your autonomic nervous system.

Before you accuse me of being too hippy-dippy, hear me out on the logic behind suggesting that love and peace are healing. When you are stressed, or when you feel unsafe or threatened, your sympathetic nervous system–the fight-or-flight system–is activated, and subsequently, your digestive system shuts down, you either sweat profusely or stop sweating, your heart races, your breathing becomes shallow, etc. You have an acute moment of ANS dysfunction. For most people, this situation resolves itself as soon as the stressful moment passes, and the parasympathetic nervous system is re-activated. However, people with ANS dysfunction (whether it is caused by fluoroquinolone toxicity, POTS, EDS, MCAS/MCAD, or something else), get “stuck” in a state of sympathetic nervous system activation and parasympathetic nervous system disengagement. Love, connection, safety, community, laughter, peace, meditation, and more, activate the parasympathetic nervous system, and shut off the sympathetic nervous system that is shutting down your ability to digest food, have sex, see clearly, etc. Activation of the parasympathetic nervous system helps to relieve symptoms of sympathetic nervous system overdrive, and helps to relieve symptoms of ANS dysfunction.

Exercises and practices that activate and heal the vagus nerve–the long nerve that connects your brain to your digestive tract and various organs, and controls your autonomic nervous system–can also help to heal your ANS, and relieve symptoms of ANS dysfunction. The post, Hacking Fluoroquinolone Toxicity via the Nervous System, goes over the connections between the vagus nerve and fluoroquinolone toxicity, and the post, 32 Ways to Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve (and Symptoms of Vagal Dysfunction), goes over some ways that you can stimulate your vagus nerve, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system, and reduces symptoms of ANS dysfunction. Love, laughter, connection, breathing exercises, acupuncture, etc. help to activate and stimulate the vagus nerve.

ANS dysfunction is complex, and it is not an easy thing to fix or “cure,” and I hope that my suggestion of love and stress-reduction as helpful in symptom alleviation isn’t seen as trite or dismissive.

I wish that ANS dysfunction, and the symptoms associated with it, were more acknowledged as symptoms of fluoroquinolone toxicity. They are serious, severe, and cause significant pain and suffering. Even though I am suggesting that peace, love, and meditation are helpful (they are), they are not simple cures that can be implemented in a short period of time. They are processes and practices, and despite doing their best to meditate regularly, love heartily, etc. many people are still very ill with fluoroquinolone toxicity, and other ANS dysfunction diseases. Neither peace nor love are cures for multi-symptom, chronic, illnesses like fluoroquinolone toxicity. Of course love and stress-reduction are helpful, but they’re not cures. We need more cures… and love… and acknowledgement.



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21 thoughts on “Autonomic Nervous System Dysfunction from Cipro, Levaquin, and other Fluoroquinolones

  1. Victoria September 24, 2017 at 9:41 am Reply

    For those of us ‘floxies’ who are totally alone–no family, close friends or loving companion, or full employment–just the devastating financial effects of a doctor’s sloppy/careless use and lack of attention to the situation of nearly 40 days of these antibiotics–what then? It’s hard to reduce stress when credit is ruined because of damage to entire body by cipro and Levaquin and I’m losing my home of 20 years, family. homestead of 73 yrs. Stress, fear of how to survive ( or if..), no one for support–these are the reality for many who do not have a support system (which is not just available because we want or need one). Anger is also in there but it does no good so other concerns fill in. V

    • Lisa September 24, 2017 at 2:41 pm Reply

      I’m so sorry for all that these horrible drugs have stolen from you, Victoria! Anger, fear, stress, etc. are normal and rational responses to the situation you’re in. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help. You can reach me through the “contact” page above.

    • lymedefeaterpassionate November 16, 2017 at 10:55 am Reply

      I wish everyone would consider that this could possibly be lyme and other coinfections…we are told that the Cipro awakenedthe lyme/Caused a herxheimer reaction in my husband. He has all of the same symptoms discussed here and I have a spect scan of his brain where it shows the lack of blood flow to the brain….cipro is definitely part of the problem, but if you get an Igenex test you may find out that you do indeed have lyme. My sister ended up in a psychiatric ward for 3 days…a complete breakdown….and now we know it is lyme and neuroborreliosis.

      • giveuspaws July 2, 2018 at 7:41 am Reply

        I have been thinking that lyme is possible cause related to my taking one tablet of Nitrofurantoin and then one tablet of Cipro (prescribed to replace the macrobid) this January. Doctor is skeptical though and doesn’t want to do the test since I had a test done earlier in the year that was reactive only on 41. Since taking amox for a toothache the neurological symptoms have increased to the point that I’m unable to sleep and neurologist just suggests increasing my amitriptyline dose which my PCP doesn’t want to do at all as he’s worried about arrhythmia. There are no easy answers here. Waiting for lyme western blot results hopefully in this week.

    • Peter August 9, 2019 at 11:48 am Reply

      I pray for your recovery. Bathe your body in magnesium gel.. it help me my legs and feet are ice cold so is the rest of my body. Could be 100° outside I am freezing cold. I know the pain urinating. Why can’t we have a class action lawsuit on the doctors and pharmaceutical industry. The tendanitis also is another things that I am still going through. I lost everything I must tell you all. The feeling of helplessness. But my will to live and fight . Health is wealth. Oh ground yourself. Go outside and take your shouse off. And sit for 2 hours a day. If you can lay on the ground. This is a great benefit. Helps you to sleep..i pray for us all who suffer for taking that Floride based poison. Peace to you.

      • L August 9, 2019 at 12:11 pm Reply

        There have been a few class actions but the problem is this…thanks to a supreme court ruling, if you took a generic you cannot sue. Just a hideous ruling. Still, there were a couple law firms who were trying to get that ruling overturned, but that takes a very very long time, and usually in a class action, the real winners are the attorneys. Individual plaintiffs usually don’t end up with very much. As for the doctors, you would need to file a suit as an individual, before the statute of limitations for your state has ended. It is difficult to find an attorney to represent you because most states have laws favoring the medical community, making it too expensive to try these cases. Still it is not IMPOSSIBLE to find an attorney…but again you need to do it within the statute of limitations, which for many states is only one or two years after the injury (or after you made the connection of your injury to the drug.)

        Yes, grounding! Also good because we are being bombarded with EMF radiation, which certainly is not good for anyone, let alone floxies, and grounding helps with that as well.

  2. Victoria September 24, 2017 at 9:51 am Reply

    BTW: the article does provide good insight as to the overarching effects of these drugs. I have had much better results, quicker, from naturalpathic approach. My situation has been going on for over a year. 1st Mersa Aug. 3016( diagnosis of poisoning not until May 2017. Very slow progress. Trus acupuncture/acupressure 5 months, many diagnostic tests, osteo treatments, now adding PT. Recently learned blood was bad so stopped PRP, 2nd Mersa erupted in Aug. 2017. Never a bite, scratch or cut. Conerned as to brain and heart I.e. Blood contamination. Dr. Continues to say this was an allergic reaction 2016. Any info. Is helpful–good article overall. V

  3. Mary September 28, 2017 at 9:53 am Reply

    Because of choking I saw my ent doctor and was told I have no gag reflux and the muscle in my throat that relaxes when swallowing is not working, has anyone run into this problem?

    • sophie October 9, 2017 at 12:04 am Reply

      Dear Lisa,
      Thank you very much for this article. I am indeed suffering from this autonomic nerve dysfunction with Pots…
      I have severe sugar issues as well. Doctors in France do not think those issues are related… Would you have an article in which it would be explained please?
      I didn t know that you had sugar issues as well Lisa…
      The trouble is that we do not know what is disrupted in the body which leads to this autonomic nerve dysfunction which is often secondary….
      And are there any supplements which can help to restore this function? When it has been severely hit like mine, can it get better with time?
      Mary, I have this choking problem as well… which seems to come and go… I haven t found any solution so far…. but it id really impressive, scary and sooo annoying.
      Thanks for everything,
      Take care.



    • Tara November 1, 2017 at 10:09 am Reply

      I had recent testing done and I, too, have no gag reflex— among MANY other ANS related dysfunction…I didn’t think about this until he was sticking the instrument down my throat and it went all the way back and down my throat without even flinching. He did this 3x and then said, “Hmmm, you have no gag reflex…” This is during my PT evaluation, by the way…

      • Mary November 1, 2017 at 11:27 am Reply

        The worst is the choking, Vitamin C will help with the phlegm I take non-acidic Ester-C by American Health C it’s tricky, it reaches it potential peek after 8 hours of ingestion and last for 16 hours.
        I also take Gotu Kola twice a day morning/evening,
        I have been advised not to drink anything at least 1 hour before bed
        I have also stopped eating in the evening, try to fast from 5 or 6 on
        I have elevated my bed and have apple cider diluted in water 24/7.
        I was also told by my doctor that curcumin and black pepper can be helpful
        never give up, we are a tough bunch

      • Kurt November 7, 2017 at 4:26 pm Reply

        Yes…my gag reflex seems very diminished. Only if I try really hard can I make myself gag. Has anyone had this and has seen it heal back to normal?

  4. L March 21, 2018 at 12:22 pm Reply

    Yeah still not sure if the frightening breathing problem I had was this or mitochondrial damage to the heart muscle. Just way too many systems/organs damaged by these toxins.

  5. Michelle May 11, 2018 at 4:07 pm Reply

    So are you saying Cipro poisoning mimics EDS or that Cipro poisoning occurs more in EDS. I have a genetics appointment bc I am convinced I have EDS. I was prescribed Cipro in 2008 and my health fell apart after that. Torn disk, SI joint Hypermobility, DDD Raynaud’s, small fiber neuropathy which includes all the dysfunction you speak of. Chronic pain, tons of unrelenting trigger points. I could go on and on. I really don’t think I will ever recover.

    • Lisa May 11, 2018 at 6:05 pm Reply

      Re: “So are you saying Cipro poisoning mimics EDS or that Cipro poisoning occurs more in EDS.” – I suspect both. Dr. Meglathery’s theories are really interesting, and you may be intrigued by them (I am) –

      • L May 11, 2018 at 9:16 pm Reply

        well I almost stopped reading when she said she hoped they would be able to come up with a drug to treat this. anyhow I kept on but still not sure I get it. That is quite a laundry list of people that could be effected…seems like almost everyone could check “yes” to at least one of those things. I still don’t understand, other than possibly taking bioactive chelated copper (if you are low) if there is something that can help, other than waiting for a pharmaceutical. Then again I am not great at reading scientific essays

      • Michelle May 12, 2018 at 5:13 am Reply

        This is me and my family to a T. Will the geneticist test for this if I am presenting with MS, EDS/ POTa symptoms. I have been fighting for an answer for year to reach the point of finally being referred for genetic testing. I imagine they will run the tests for EDS.

  6. […] energy centers of our cells) are likely related to both diseases, and so is autonomic nervous system dysfunction, mast cell activation, metabolomics, epigenetics, immune system dysfunction, hormonal […]

  7. Debra March 18, 2019 at 4:58 pm Reply

    I can not tell you what I have witnessed from these drugs. I am so angry these drugs are on the market. I don’t think my husbands doctors would have given him these drugs if they knew the dangers. These drugs continued to hospitalize my husband for emergency respiratory failure. 9 times in a year and a half. His symptoms were first his stomach would swell he could gain 10 lbs over night, he would have a low grade fever and then his oxygen would drop and no matter how much oxygen I gave him it couldn’t be brought back up. We would get to the hospital and they would tell me his lungs were clear, but with in 30 minutes rapidly filled up with fluid so they treated him with Fluoroquinolones this happened over and over again, I kept researching because I was afraid he was running out of time, what ever was going on with him was going to kill him if I couldn’t find answers. I must say that a doctor who listens is very important. After going through this over and over again I finally found a doctor who helped. I had told him I don’t want him given Fluorocarbons I don’t think they are safe and he agreed. I have been able to keep him out of the hospital, it’s been about a year now, He is getting a little stronger but can’t seem to come off the oxygen. He suffers from peripheral neuropathy with 75% nerve damage. He does get immune therapy because his IGg was quite low I think that has helped. Some of the stories here have helped me realize that I could add some supplements he hasn’t been taking and that might help him heal faster. After researching and thinking back, my Dad had exactly the same symptoms same lab results in fact they were in hospital together. My Dad didn’t make it. If these drugs can do this kind of damage to some one in there early 50’s one can only imagine what it can do to a 81 year old. I seriously think Pharmaceutical companies had to have known the damage they could cause. The mechanism of action tells you that. If you look up Mitochondrial disease many are born with them, but Fluoroquinolones can cause the same disease for example Acral peeling skin syndrome.which my husband has had this since taking Acral peeling skin syndrome I will leave the link below. Those born with it the cause…… This condition is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern, which means both copies of the gene in each cell have mutations. The parents of an individual with an autosomal recessive condition each carry one copy of the mutated gene. So I am guessing mutations caused by Fluoroquinolones can mimic genetic. I found a few of them on this sight and was astonished of the close connection to my husbands illnesses which he did not have in the past. He was strong and active He build his own houses, Skied, Played baseball, River rafted, Hiked , Hunted. So now any time any drug is given to my husband I research every thing, every ingredient every action of the ingrdient if there is any thing dangerous I ask the doctor for a safe alternative which I find the list my self. Sadly doctors are so busy they don’t have the time to research, they rely on the FDA who are not always given accurate information and clinical trials are to short to see any damage that drugs can cause. Leaving people to be the guinea pigs for experiments. Any way here is the link I had talked about and there is also so much information on the sight to help me understand effect of damage to Mitochodrial dysfuntion.

    • L March 18, 2019 at 6:56 pm Reply

      Debra, the pharmaceutical companies (AND the FDA have known for decades how toxic these are.) And Dr Charles Bennett tried to get the FDA to add mitochondrial damage to the list of warnings and it refused to do so. Sadly the warnings don’t mean much, Doctors don’t bother looking for them. If I were you I would find a good integrative doctor and/or a naturopath. It’s what saved me. (especially one who offers IV therapy.)

  8. Peter August 9, 2019 at 11:38 am Reply

    Oh my lord, I been suffering for years . Why did I ever take that cypro. I do better with massive amounts of magnesium. Pure organic Sulfur crystals and vitamin C. That’s my way of coping I feel uptight all the time.

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