Toggle site contrast Toggle Contract

Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics: what you need to know about side effects

What antibiotics are involved?

Ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin and ofloxacin are examples of Fluoroquinolone antibiotics that treat serious and life-threatening infections.

What do I need to know?

Although most patients tolerate these antibiotics well, a few patients may develop serious side effects that involve tendons, muscles, joints and nerves (see below).

In a small proportion of patients these side effects cause long lasting or permanent disability.

Taking a steroid in addition to a fluroquinolone antibiotic may increase the risk of tendon problems. However this will have been considered by your Doctor on a risk/benefit basis.

Doctors will take special care if you are older than 60 years of age. The following groups also have a higher risk of side effects: patients whose kidneys do not work well, or those who have had an organ transplant.

Side Effects

STOP taking the antibiotics if you experience any of the following effects and contact your doctor or the unit / team looking after you

  • Tendon pain or swelling, often beginning in the ankle or calf
  • Pain in your joints or swelling in your shoulder, arms or legs
  • Abdominal or back pain
  • Weakness in your body, or unusual sensations (such as persistent pins and needles, tingling, numbness or burning), especially in your legs or arms
  • Severe tiredness, depressed mood, anxiety or problems with your memory or severe sleeping
  • Changes in your vision, taste, smell or hearing.

In addition to contacting your doctor, you can also report side effects to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) through the Yellow Card Scheme

What shall I do if I am worried about the side effects?

Tell your doctor or speak to the unit / team that is looking after your treatment.

Call the Medicines Information department:

01494 425355 Monday-Friday 12:00-17:00

Outside these hours, please contact your Doctor or attend A&E.


Why have I been given this leaflet?

A European review looked closely at the expected benefits and potential risks of these antibiotics. The report identified very rare reports of serious and long lasting side effects.

You will only be given this medication if the experts feel that the benefits of fighting an infection are greater than the potential side effects. This will have been discussed with you.

Early identification of side effects is essential to reduce further complications.