*The following is an individual’s story of surviving fluoroquinolone toxicity. It is not medical advice. Please see the disclaimer at the bottom of the story. Thank you, and please be cautious with all treatments.
In 2009, at the tail end of a trip to Morocco, I got terrible food poisoning. The kind where I could not leave my hotel room for days, and at all times I needed to know where the nearest bathroom was. I was also feverish and felt terrible.
“Luckily” my primary card physician, who I saw before my trip,prescribed me a weeks supply of Cipro for this exact situation. I forget the exact amounts but I think the pills were 250mg. I should also mention I was 39 and 140 lbs for reference.
5 days into taking them I finally started paying attention to my achilles pain. Earlier in the week I assumed any foot pain I had was because I was walking a lot. But by day 5 I really started to pay attention to it. I sought out an internet cafe and my eyes opened to what cipro can do to me so I stopped. Incidentally my food poisoning was cured. I am a bit neurotic about my health and what I put into my body and was shocked about what I read about Cipro. I was glad that stopped but I was a bit nervous about the effects.
I still had a few weeks left in my travels. My achilles pain had gone away. I was doing fine. About three weeks later I was walking up some stairs with my luggage when I heard a pop sound. It was my right knee. Not exactly sure what it was but my knee started to hurt. It was not terrible. Just achey. If I walked with a slight limp I was ok. I blamed the cipro.
When I got back to the States I told my doctor about it and about Cipro. He did not know about these side effects (he does now and is very aware of what it can do as he has had other patients who have had worse reactions). He gave me some pain meds.
Over the course of the following year, I had knee pain that gradually got better. Some days was bad, then I would wake up the next day and it would be fine. Very weird. It would come and go. Two years later it was mostly all gone with an occasional flare up that might last a few hours and then just vanish. That was pretty much it.
I do want to mention that at some point in my life I developed tinnitus, a hum in my ear. This might have been from the Cipro, but I just do not remember when it started. All I know is that for the last 5 years or more I have had it. That has not gone away but I live with it and it is not a big deal. I also occasionally get tingly fingers that goes away pretty quickly. That can hit me pretty randomly.
At this point I was very aware what an awful drug Cipro and other quinolones are. I told everyone to never ever take it. I knew that steroids exacerbated the damage. I knew that some people’s lives were destroyed by it. I knew about all those postal employees took it for Anthrax for long periods and had horrible side effects. Most of all I KNEW NEVER EVER TO TAKE CIPRO AGAIN!!!
Fast forward to Feb 2015. I took a 1 month trip to Central America starting in Costa Rica. Lots of delicious food but my favorite was rotisserie chicken that they had all over the place – I ate it daily, sometimes even twice daily! I hiked up volcanoes in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. I remember thinking what good shape I was in physically. After swimming in some hot springs, I developed this tiny itchy spot above my butt that I started to worry about after 2 weeks. Not worry worry but some days it itched like crazy. Finally I decided to stop by a pharmacy and get something for it. Keep in mind that I am neurotic about what I put in and on my body so anytime someone tells me to take something I research it first. I remember getting sick in India and going from pharmacy to pharmacy and they all wanted to give me this combo drug which was half parasite killer and half quinolone (that was banned in the US) – thats what everyone took there for getting sick! Anyway I was in this super nice touristy town Antigua, Guatemala where they had a number of nice pharmacies (Western style). I showed my little rash thing to the pharmacist and he suggested something for ringworm. I was about to purchase Lamisil when he suggested I get this other creme that was the triple treatment (antibiotic, corticosteroid and antifungal). It was made from a German company and the antibiotic was not a quinolone type and it was just a creme so I got it and started applying it in a small spot every 9 hours as he suggested. After I left I googled the ingreients and they all seemed fine. I continued on my journey.
Over the days the rashed seemed to be getting better. The next day or 2 or 3 I noticed a strange pain in my right inner thigh but I chalked it up to pain of riding in small buses for days. One night I noticed a tiny bit of achiness in right achilles tendon but thought nothing of it. Five days after I started the creme and the next morning in Mexico I wake up to catch a flight and literally I can barely walk both my achilles tendons hurt so much. I have never experienced pain like this. I immediately thought cipro but how?? I was not happy. I went from climbing volcanoes a few weeks prior to not being able to walk. I had to catch a flight and limped my way around. I was very scared and concerned. Leading up to that day, I had not done anything strenuous. I started doing research and on the quinolone wikipedia page, they mention that quinolone use combined with corticosteroid use (even topical it said!) is more likely to cause tendon problems. But I was not taking any antibiotics. More research. I remember seeing a sign in a third world type market in Nicaragua “BAYER FOOD SCIENCE”. Bayer makes both Cipro and Baytril an animal version. I remember thinking how weird it was that Bayer has a presence in a third world country. All I can connect to my most recent floxing is that I was eating a lot of chicken and that somehow I got enough exposure to a quinolone along with my topical steroid use to cause a serious reaction in me. I read a study where they looked for residue of quinolones in chicken in the Dominican Republic and they routinely found levels that were higher that the max safe level for humans. I was so angry. My rash hadn’t even completely gone away! I didn’t even need that f**king steroid creme that that pharmacist had given me.
The next day My left achilles felt much better but my right still hurt. I was able to get around more but I was careful to lay off the right foot. I could walk around mostly but I was very careful. I still had two weeks of travel to go so I needed to be able to walk. I started feeling a bit better and was getting around ok. Going on decent walks. Then I got home and I started to get worse. I started to get tendon pain all over. Thighs, all my foot tendons, toes, fingers, arms, even my jaw. I was starting to freak outMy doctor of course had no real good advice. I started to research. I thought I knew everything I needed to know and I did not. I started taking magnesium, vitamin D, Cod Fish Oil, Hydrolyzed gelatin, Vit C. I started eating really healthy. Only organic meats. Lots of vegatables and fruit. I read more and tried to make sense out of all the advice coming out of the floxed community. What works. What doesn’t. I learned the all you can eat shrimp buffet I ate at right before I got home might have exacerbated by affliction because pretty much the majority of shrimp imported into the USA has tested positive to quinolones! I realized that throughout the last few years that when my knee pain popped up again it might have been because of something I ate! I realized that I can no longer eat any imported seafood at all. I realized that I can no long eat at my favorite cheap sushi place (I used to feel really cold and strange whenever I did eat there but never really thought about it). I hear that you can even find quinolone residues in honey!!!
So here I am lying in bed typing this. It has been just about month since I woke up that day in Mexico city with crippling achilles pain. I AM feeling better. My body tendons feel better. I wake up with stiff legs but when I get moving they loosen up. My problem spot in my right foot/achilles, sometimes my left. I only started feeling really better a few days ago. I think in another month I should be much better. Tendon problems are my only issue. I have some anxiety but I a have always been an anxious person and going through this is naturally very stressful!!!
I started seeing a Naturopath (luckily I live blocks away from the best naturopathic school in the country). Had my first Vitamin/Glucathione IV this week. Not sure if it helped yet. Another one next week.
1. Do not eat any cheap important seafood. No shrimp/seafood.
2. Magnesium helps with the pain I think. I don’t overdo it and take 200 to 400mg a day. Do not take the oxide kind.
3. This is super important and has made a big difference. When I spent a week mostly lounging around and resting a lot, I was not getting better. Being active really helped. I started going on walks. Even though it hurt a little initially to walk, the more I walked, the less pain I felt. Don’t do anything that is really painful, but being active has made me feel so much better!!! I can’t stress this enough.
4. Stop reading all the horror stories online!!! It is ok to get educated. Get mad. Cry. But then you have to move on and move forward and reading all that stuff just brings you down and scares the crap out of you.
5. Time is the best treatment of all. You will just have to be patient. I am pretty sure that I will need at least another month of 2 to feel a lot better. From what I understand tendons take at least 60 to 90 days or more to fix themselves.
I am pretty hopeful and positive right now. And that is probably good in itself. Please get the word out about these drugs.
Watch what you eat. I had no idea that I could reexpose myself from my diet. No idea whatsoever. Our food supply is in pretty rough shape right now and I know it is hard to eat well sometimes but you sort of have to. I will no longer eat any meat in a third world country. I cannot risk it. My favorite thing in the world is walking and taking walks – I never want to lose that.
Good luck everyone and hang in there. Despite all the horror stories out there, your body is an amazing healing machine.
Just give it time. Might be a few months, maybe a year, and maybe more. And while you are healing, you can lay low a bit, but keep living your life. Do not let fear get the best of you.
Thanks so much for reading and thanks so much for this website. When I am in the throes of panic and fear and pain and can only find horror story after horror story, it is a good thing to actually find stories of healing. Thanks!
** The story above is truthful, accurate and told to the best of the ability of the writer. It is not intended as medical advice. No person who submits his or her story, nor the people associated with Floxie Hope, diagnoses or treats any illness. The story above should not be substituted for professionally provided medical advice. Please consult your doctor before trying anything that has been mentioned in this story, or in any other story on this site. Please also note that people have varying responses to the treatments mentioned in each story. What helps one person may not help, and may even hurt, another person. It is important that you understand that supplements, IVs, essential oils, and all other treatments, effect people differently depending on the millions of variables that make each of us unique. Please use appropriate caution and prudence, and get professional medical advice.