Bactrim - Septra - cotrimoxazole: mail to this website on side-effects (11)

This page is from a campaign by award-winning investigative journalist Brian Deer in The Sunday Times of London over risks and side-effects from this antibiotic, marketed under many names, such as Bactrim, Bactrim DS, Septra, Septra DS, Septrin, Sulfatrim, SMZ/TMP, Septran and co-trimoxazole | The investigation | Symptom searcher | Tell Brian & help others

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31 July 2004

I was prescribed Septra for a bladder infection. Within 30 minutes of taking the first does I started to feel flu-like symptoms come on. My throat and ears started to itch, my sinuses felt like they were swelling and I just didn't feel well. I called my doctor and he stated that I was probably getting a cold and it was a coquencadence. I didn't believe him and stopped taking the medication. Well I took it again 9 months later and this time I had a worse reaction. Again within 30 minutes I had the flu like symptoms again but this time my lips, and tongue started to swell.I went to the ER and they stated that I am absolutely allergic to this medication. Now I do not want my children to ever take Sulfa drugs as well.

Am I right in believing that they could potentially have an allergic reaction just because I did. Thank you for you web site. I was so glad to find others whom have had the same experience.

Stacie Anderson, USA.

SMZ/TMP: 1 August 2004

Dear Brian,

I thought I would look up the medicine and read up on it. I found your web site and I am glad I did and I will never never take it ever again. Every since taken this medicine back in 2000 I stay tired and weak alot and feel like I could pass out somestimes, I have problems with my eye sight,I have pain in my arms and legs, I don't hear good, I have headace that last for days sometimes. My family and I notice that this all started back in 2000 when I started taking the medicine. I don't think I will ever get better but I hope they take this medicine off the market so that this medicine don't hurt no one else. Your web site has been very helful to me and I am sure alot of other people.

Donna, TN.

BACTRIM: 11 August 2004

Hi Brian,

I was prescribed bactrim ds 2x/day. the first night I took it, I vomited it up because I was scared of the med. I didn't know all of the side effects from your website, I was just afraid because they said there were some deaths from it in the pharmacy note that came with the prescription.

The next day I took it in the morning and about 5-6 h later I had a bad smell that wouldn't leave my nose. I thought it was something at work. It did go away. Then I took my night dose, and I was falling asleep, but I felt like I was melting. Its hard to explain. Not my normal feeling when I fall asleep. Needless to say, I didn't sleep. The next morning I didn't take the drug, but I was feeling kind of drugged out. I didn't take anything else (no alcohol, no other meds) while I was on this drug.

Currently, the smell seems to be diminishing and I no longer feel drugged


BACTRIM: 11 August 2004

Brian Deer: Was just recently on your Website and gained some valuable information about Bactrim. To be brief, I visited my GP locally with a supposed Urinary Tract Infection. Was diagnosed with Prostratites and given a nine day regimen of Bactrim in February of 2004. I was on the Bactrim for three days and totally lost my appetite, and my stomach was very upset. I foolishly continued on the nine day regimen and after that my whole world has turned upside down.

I have very much trouble eating, no appetite, nausea most of the time and have lost 30 pounds in the preceding five months. I finally was put on Nexium in Mid-March for Acid-Reflux, had an upper GI, which showed nothing except for a possible Hiatal Hernia. Finally last week was sent to a Gastroentorologist who ordered an Endoscopy, done on 8/3. My Stomach looks like a disaster area, and the Doctor took up to 30 biopsy's of my stomach tissue. Results of three different tests, including Cancer and e-pylori were all negative. Was given an additional Endoscopy on 8/10, and am scheduled for a CAT scan on 8/12.

I have been distressed with stomach problems ever since I took Bactrim. My stomach is incredibly inflamed.

George P, North Carolina.

SMZ/TMP DS: 12 August 2004

I really wished I had look at your site before taking the above prescription for UTI. It's unbelievable this product is still killing and maiming people 10 years after exposure if its side effect. Within 2 days (4 pills), I had unusual bruising and blistering on my arm, and days to weeks after quitting the 20 capsule prescription after only 9-1/2 capsules, I was getting rashes on other parts of my body, and then worried about Steven-Johnson Syndrome potential.We humans are obviously 'expendable'.


BACTRIM: 23 August 2004

Good Evening...I was just looking over this site as I feel I had a terrible reaction to bactrim...I was taking it for a urinary track infection..I took my first pill on saturday and another on sunday morning and took one on sunday night before I went to bed..I woke on monday and couldnt stand on my feet my calves would just be a terrible breath taking ache..but as soon as I walked I was fine and if I layed down that ache instantly went away...I worked that day and then came home and went to bed...I did not take anymore bactrim after the one that I took before bed on sunday and after calling the drs they told me that they didnt think that bactrim was the reason so I just went to bed on monday night...On Tuesday I woke up worse and went to the emergency room and spent 3 days in the hospital with them trying to figure out what was going on...They took and MRI..chest x-rays..back x-rays..an EKG and a lot of bloodwork...still whenever I stood up and stayed standing it was a terrible ache that I couldnt continue standing and again I could walk or lay down and the ache totally went away instantly...

I was released from the hospital on Thursday night and started to get a little better as the next 3 days went on...right now it is Monday and I'm feeling ok just very nervous and scared this will come back...I have talked to my primary physician and he said that they didnt find anything and sometimes you have to listen to your patient and if I thought that it was caused by the bactrim them maybe it was...I need to find out if this indeed couldve been a reaction from the bactrim as I'm afraid that it could return at any time...


SEPTRIN: 24 August 2004

Dear Brian,

I've just returned from a trip to Germany where I unfortunately suffered from a bout of cystitis (I seem to be prone to the condition). I went to a chemist and bought this drug over the counter. (I had previously been described the drug "Septrin" in England in the mid 90s where it an caused itchy feeling inside near my ovaries). I began taking the tablets on the Friday, and returned to England on the Saturday. I felt very unwell, warm cheeks and felt clammy and developed terrible thrush. The cystitis was no better and had in fact deteriorated. By Sunday my condition had worsened and I was forced to see the emergency doctor. He told me that this drug is illegal in England now and prescribed me something else. I was interested to understand why the drug was illegal in England and that is how I have come across your site. I find it worrying that this drug is available over the counter in Germany and the pharmacist did not tell me of any risks. I still very bloated but this may be due to the other tablets I am now taking. Your site has been extremely useful.

Helen, UK.

SMZ/TMP: 6 September 2004

Hi Brian:

I'm currently just finished a prescription of SMZ/TMP. Luckily for me, I've had no problems.

However, my 13-month Golden Retriever was given SMZ/TMP this summer for a skin infection this summer. After being on it for about 7days, he developed a fever of 103 (~100-101 is normal for him), and a really upset stomach. I took him into the vet the next day as I feared a tick-borne illness, since we had been in the woods.

We stopped the SMZ/TMP for a couple of weeks until the skin infections started back up. At that point, I hadn't realized that the SMZ/TMP had caused his earlier, brief illness. I gave him 1 dose of the SMZ/TMP and within 1 hour he was uncomfortable, and again upset to his stomach. At that point, I realized the medicine was bad for him and threw it away.

2 days later, he had 2 petit mal seizures. They were pretty minor, but a real scare.

He's absolutely perfectly healthy now, but he will never again have SMZ/TMP! I'll steer clear of it as well.

Thanks for your site!

Wendy M. Appleton, Wisconsin.

BACTRIM DS: 9 September 2004


I am 29 years old and always been extremely active and healthy. In May 04' my dermatologist put me on Bactrim ds for acne related problems. A couple weeks later a different doctor put me on a hormone balancing medication, all this to stop the acne. By mid-June, I started having severe heart palpitations and my legs were very weak. I've even been to a cardiologist three times and had tests done. He said the palpitations are related to stress. I don't even have a stressful life, until now. I stopped the hormone medication, never thinking an antibiotic would cause those problems. I've never been allergic to anything like that before. A few weeks later a constant nasuea came and hasn't left. I never vomit, I just always feel like I'm about to. And the worst of all is the unreal fatigue. It is an effort just to walk across my house or sometimes to even sit up. It's affecting my life as a wife and mother because I am so unbelievably tired all the time. For the first time I wondered if it could have to do with the Bactrim. I started researching on the internet and found this sight which is helping me believe I need to get these antibiotics out of my system. The range of symptoms is so huge that it is hard to diagnose if something is really being caused by the bactrim. Thank you for making this site available. I no longer think I'm crazy for the problems my doctors are brushing off.


BACTRIM: 9 September 2004

Hello Brian,

I am currently taking Bactrim for a second time and experiencing little effect other than not sleeping very well, although the first time I was prescribed Bactrim I experienced severe digestion problems and heart palpitations and tightness of the chest I actually fainted on my last day of treatment.

I had my heart checked out (echo cardiogram and halter monitor) and it was normal and the only problems found were lower levels of vitamin B12.

As it turns out, after taking Bactrim I had become low in my levels of vitamin B12 in my body for a while as a side effect of the drug. Levels had to be restored to normal by taking supplements. This low B12 could have caused my symptoms, which disappeared after taking B12 and rebuilding levels in my body. I currently take it daily and have taken 200 mg of B12 with every Bactrim pill this time and none of these problems I experienced the first time have occurred this time. I haven t read anything about this and thought I d suggest people to take B12 if prescribed Bactrim. It worked for me, as I am allergic to tetracycline and penicillin and can only take this for my bladder infections.

Just wanted to pass this info and and ask that. Thanks for having your site. I firmly believe that people should be tested for Sulpha allergies before being given them because the reaction people have to them are fatal and should not be left up to chance. They are not common, but are largely fatal.


Heather N, Canada.


SMZ-TMP: 10 September 2004

Mr Deer

I did see my symptom listed, and I think that people should be made aware, especially since it developed very fast. I am a 37 year old female who was prescribed SMZ-TMP DS twice a day for a urinary track infection. I felt better within 12hours. However, by 24 hours I had developed severe vaginal irritation. I felt like I was raw. I was in great discomfort and felt like I was in labor all night. I was constantly on the potty and was pushing hard as if giving birth. I was very uncomfortable, and I felt like I was trying to push out something from my womb. When I woke, the first thing I did was check the Internet for side effects of the drug and I am so very grateful for your site. I have called my Physician.



SULFAMETH: 16 September 2004

I was prescribed sulfameth to cure a UTI, and about 4 or 5 days in I noticed some symptoms. I am constantly nauseated, I never actually feel hungry. The only reason I ever eat is to have some salvation from my constant over-salivating. I seem to constantly need to spit or swallow my saliva every 10s or so. I know it sounds repulsive, but imagine having to do it. I get headaches often, but I just keep taking pain killers to get rid of it. I also feel dizzy and basically just out of it. I have had trouble sleeping, I don t fall asleep until I am utterly exhausted at early hours of the morning. I didn t think right away of my symptoms being a side-effect to the anti-biotic because I am receiving a surgery for my burns in my neck and assumed that these feelings could be caused by this medical procedure as well as my homesickness. I am depressed as it is from being away from home for nearly a month, it feels horrible when you can t talk to people you love without worrying about time zones or phone bills. I don t know if this drug causes neurosis, but my symptoms just make me feel like I am going crazy and causing them myself. I feel like I will never be normal again. Please some one tell me that if I stop taking the drug these symptoms will go away. I feel like I am never going to be my fun loving 17 year old self again. Many people have written that they have stopped taking the drug and don t feel any better. If this feeling has been caused by the drug it should be removed from all shelves immediately and I condone any action taken against the people who allowed this drug to be on the market in the first place. Thank you for giving me hope that I am not mad or turning into a hypochondriac.

Ian C.

BACTRIM: 21 September 2004

Hello Brian,

So glad i came across your site! I took 2 Bactrim pills yesterday (for a UTI) and have been feeling horrible. Stomach problems, nausea, insomnia and the WORST panic attack I have ever had.

Please keep up te good work!


SMZ/TMP: 27 September 2004

Hello Brian,

As you can see it's the wee hours of the morning. I woke up achy, thirsty and with a severe headache. The taste in my mouth is foul and my mouth feels like cotton. So... I'm in my robe, Rx bottle in hand, checking things out. Wow. Quite a read! Though this drug may have given relief to many people and animals, it doesn't make me feel good. I'm itchy all over, and that alone is enough of a signal that my body isn't tolerating the medication. I took a pill Saturday night, and 2 on Sunday... 3 pills is all --- and I'm tossing the rest. Now I know why my Pharmacist asked me if I was familiar with this drug. I told him I was because in my ignorance figured it was just another antibiotic and I hadn't been allergic to any in the past. He said drink lots of water.

And also note... My test wasn't conclusive for infection. But the Doctor said, "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, then it's a duck. I'll give you something cheap and effective.

Jenny E.

BACTRIM: 29 September 2004

My doctor prescribed Bactrim for a ear infection. On the second night of taking the medication, I couldn't sleep at all. I tossed and turned all night and my body felt uneasy. On the third day I was tired and my entire body was shaking. As the day wore on I became more and more fatigued and a after simple walk with my dogs I had to rest. I became more weak and nauseous. Still not connecting the medication to what I was feeling, I took the second dose. A hour later my heart was racing and pounding. Needless to say, I did not sleep at all. I have a heart arrhythmia and became frightened. That’s That’s when I looked up this med. and saw that others have experienced the same distress. I called my doctor in the morning and was put on a different medication.

I know, that had I continued to take this medication I would have been in serious trouble.

Carol M.

SEPTRA: 30 September 2004

Dear Brian:

I just found your web site, and it is very enlightening. Here is my story.

I am (was?) a healthy, active 60 year old male, and I have never been allergic to anything – not even poison ivy! I was prescribed SEPTRA DS 800-160 in late April by my urologist, who thought I might have an inflamed prostate, and this might take care of it. I was to take two tablets a day for 30 days. On the 29th day I had a major reaction, fever, chills, sweats, swelling of hands, feet & face, and an itchy rash everywhere. Of course this was Friday night of Memorial Day weekend so neither my urologist nor family doctor were available, so I stopped taking the SEPTRA and suffered through the night. Everything but the swelling and rash went away by Saturday, but the rash (itchy bumps) spread all over my body, and nothing I had would provide any relief. I then went to the emergency room where they gave me some Benedryl through an IV, prescribed a weak dose of Prednisone (6 days, 2mg), and told me to take more Benedryl.

I got absolutely no relief and by Monday (Memorial Day) morning, after zero sleep for three nights, I was ready to go back to the ER. First I called my family doctor’s office and she was open!! When my doctor saw me, she could not believe what she saw. She put me on high dose Prednisone (10 days with 10mg pills), Atarax, Batamethasone Dipropionate cream, Ambien 10mg to help me sleep, and Valium. (The valium wouldn’t help the itching, but I wouldn’t care as much!)

By the end of the 10 days of Prednisone I had pretty much recovered, but then the itchy bumps started to come back. The Atarax & DB cream helped, but by the beginning of July I was a mess again. So, back on another round of Prednisone for 10 days. Same results, and the itchy bumps slowly started to come back. My doctor did not want to use more Prednisone if possible, so she wanted to try ZYRTEC and AXID to try put all those histamines at bay until my system got back to normal, “which might take 3 months”. It did seem to slow the itchy bump advance, but by the beginning of September I was a mess again, and back on another round of Prednisone.

It is now September 26, 2004, and I have been off the Prednisone for 10 days and the itching is slowing coming back. I would appreciate comments from anyone who has suffered any similar experience, what provided relief, and how long I can expect this to continue.

Jeff C, Tennessee.

GENERIC BACTRIM: 2 October 2004

Hi Brian,

I took 3 doses of a generic Bactrim for a urinary tract infection. perscribed by a resident at Virginia Commonwealth University's medical school's Nelson Clinic in Richmond, VA. I had told the doctor that plain old penicillan is the only anti-biotic I have ever taken to which I don't have a reaction, but he said that for UTIs, Bactrim was the first choice, and that I'd only have to take it for three days.

Within a few hours of taking it, while at a local political meeting in Richmond, I began developing a sore throat, really bad headache, and general feelings of discomfort. Walking to my car, and driving home to watch the Presidential debates, my breathing was labored. At home, I felt exhausted, but kept awake by the debating, after which I took the second dose. I began alternately buring up, and getting very chilled. I had a monster of a headache. It wasn't the debates - I was pleased with how that went. I took one more dose the next day at noon.

The rest of that day is a blur - I mostly tried to sleep through the worst headache I've ever had in my life. My legs wouldn't support my weight. My husband didn't have to work too hard to convince me not to take any more.

It's been 21 hours since I last took a Bactrim, ( or rather the generic equivalent). All the pivot points in my body (my joints) are extremely sore. When I stand for more than a few moments, my legs start to burn. My headache is now controlled by some over-the-counter migraine medicine; it barely made a dent in it before. My reaction is not nearly as bad as many of the ones I've read on the site, but this is the worst reaction I have ever had to any medication. I told my husband, I have a feeling this is what chemo must be like, and all I had was a UTI.

The funny thing is, Virginia Commonwealth University has a pretty good medical school; you'd think they be cognizant of Bactrim's side-effects. But apparantly they are teaching their residents that Bactrim is the first choice when it comes to treating urinary tract infections. Something's not right here.

Bren I.

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