Septra - Septran - Bactrim - SMZ: mail to this website on side-effects (14)

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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Dear Brian:

My middle child, a son who just turned 3, was recently prescribed Bactrim suspension (generic) for treatment of yet another ear infection caused by pretty constant sinusitus. We had never taken this drug before and made it through the first round (10 days) without incident. We returned to the doctor for a re-check of his ears, as normal. His ears looked clear, and because of my son's history, our pediatrician decided to prescribe one more round of bactrim just to completely knock out anything else that might be left in his sinuses. Sounded good to me. So after being off the drug for only 4 or 5 days, we started another round on a Tuesday.

A day or two into this second round of Bactrim, my son started scratching his bottom (backside) saying that it was itching. I just assumed it was dry skin, but he kept itching. A couple days later, he started scratching his lower back and his head. A fine red rash appeared on his legs, arms, and a little on his back. Again, I chalked it off to really dry skin and the dryness of having the heat on in the house these days. On Friday night, after being put to bed at his normal 8:00 bedtime, he kept getting out of bed every 15 or 20 minutes until 2:30a.m. Again, we still had not made any connection with the itching, but it was a long night. All day Saturday he was scratching and I started to wonder if he was having a skin reaction to a new mattress cover on his bed. Anyway- it wasn't until after I'd given him his Saturday evening dose of Bactrim that it clicked in my head that maybe he was reacting to the medicine. By this point, he was scratching so bad and crying and he couldn't sleep because of the severe discomfort. I felt so bad because I couldn't provide him any relief. I gave him Benadryl, bathed him with oatmeal bath, smeared benadryl cream all over him. Nothing really helped and we had another long night Saturday night. But I did not give him any more bactrim, and by Sunday night, he was still scratching a bit, but not as much, and he slept through the night without discomfort. This morning (Monday), he awoke at his normal 7:30 and the first words he said were, "I not itch anymore!". I don't know why it took me 5 days to figure out the connection, I guess because the symptoms were not terribly severe until days 4 and 5, but after finding your site today and reading all this info about Bactrim, I'm not sure I would give it to any of my kids again.

Bottom line: our side effects were a fine rash covering arms, legs back, and SEVERE itching over the entire body, including the scalp.

Thanks for your information-

Lisa, nr Dallas, TX

SEPTRA: 22 February 2005

Thank you. My 93 year old mother is suffering chills and shaking which I first observed today but my husband saw last night. Since Septra is the new factor in her life I decided to look up side effects. Chills are one. We will discontinue immediately and hope it is not too late. Her shaking was noticed after her third dose.

Lyn P

BACTRIM D: 23 February 2005


My name is Nova and I suffer from frequent urinary tract infections...

I've always been prescribed Bactrim, but this particular incidence isn't good! I started the Bactrim D yesterday night, with no side effects. But tonight, no later than 10 minutes after taking the Bactrim D, I suddenly became SEVERELY nauseous, chills, disorientation, began shaking and twitching.. feeling really awful. I have been coming real close to vomiting, but I am still feeling awful.

Could this be a typical Bactrim case? Or perhaps I'm just sick from severe family problems .. who knows, maybe I have the flu. I just felt it was sort of strange how I was fine tonight up until I took the Bactrim for the 2nd night in a row.


SULFATRIM: 26 February 2005

I am a generally healthy 45 year old woman: slim, non-smoker, no chronic health problems and don't usually take medications. I don't think I've ever had a drug reaction. I recently had what appears to have been a reaction to the antibiotic I was on. I was recently prescribed Sulfatrim for a kidney infection and experienced severe headaches on two separate days within four or five days of starting it. I wasn't overly alarmed because I can get migraines from time to time. After taking Sulfatrim for six days I was woken at 2:00a.m. with severe heartburn (I never get heartburn) followed by severe diarrhea and vomiting. I was very frightened and drove to the hospital. I was given an EKG. My heart seemed to be good although my blood pressure was notedly elevated. When the attending physician asked if I was on any medication I told him I was on Sulfatrim for a kidney infection. He concluded that I'd had a reaction to it. For the next 24 hours it was all I could do to try to get ease from the symptoms and sleep. I have never felt so sick or so frightened in my life. Now, having finally decided to look online for more information and reading some of the stories of other people's experiences with this drug I realize I was actually fortunate. It appears it could've been much worse. I will be asking my pharmacist and hospital if they have a means of tracking reactions to specific drugs. I want mine to be noted, somewhere. Perhaps the "good" that this drug supposedly does is vastly outweighed by the chances of harm.

Mary, Nova Scotia, Canada

TRIMETH/SULFA DS: 10 March 2005

Dear Brian,

I recently took a prescription for Trimeth/Sulfa DS tablets that the doctor gave me to treat a urinary tract infection on 3/8/05. I was told to take the medication for 5 days total with 2 tablets a day to treat the infection. When I took the first tablet I noticed that I started to feel dizzy with nausea and I had very uncomfortable abdominal pains. At first I thought that it was from the infection so I continued to take the second pill that night before I went to bed. That night I could not sleep well because I felt nauseous and in discomfort, but it was nothing compared to the next morning. In the morning I was in so much pain and it was shooting throughout my abdomen and sides. It felt like my appendix was about to burst. It lasted throughout the day and I finally had to go to the emergency room because the pain was unbearable. I called my doctor and she said to stop the medication right away and that she would prescribe me something else. I am now afraid to take anything else because of this terrible experience. I feel a little bit better now but my stomach is sore and I am still weak. I am very grateful for your website and I will definitely educate myself and research any prescription that is given to me in the future. It was scary too see that so many other people also had very serious side effects and it is just too bad that doctors continue to give patients this drug.

Thank you,

Kristal, 23 years old

BACTRIM: 11 March 2005

I decided to do some research on Bactrim and found your website. I absolutely can not believe they are still able to prescribe this drug.

My daughter is 18 years old. On Tues night (3/8/05) she called me from college and said she was sick. She said she thought she had food poisoning. She said she was vomiting and had diarrhea. I told her to take some Pepto and see if that would help, maybe it was just an upset stomach. We talked off and on for the next hour or so. When I realized the Pepto was not going to help, and she was probably getting dehydrated I called a friend of hers Toni that lives there. Toni came and picked her up and took her to the hospital. They check her out and said she was dehydrated and had an UTI. They gave her 3 bags of fluid, a shot for pain, an oral antibiotic (which we found out later was bactrim) and a prescription for antibiotics. They released her about 5:30 am on Wed. (3/9/05). I was up all night talking with the hospital and Toni. When my daughter was able to talk with her. She said she felt better, but was weak. That was understandable. I told her that me and her Dad would be there later that day to pick her up and bring her home. Well, about 7:15 am she called and said she was hurting again. So she called the hospital and they said she should take tylenol and that it would take a few days to get over. I had a meeting for work that morning so after I got ready I left for my meeting. She didn't call me back so I assumed she was asleep and didn't want to wake her. On my way back home, which was about 10:30 am she called me. She said felt really bad, she said she felt worse than before. I told her I was almost home and as soon as I got there me and her dad would be on our way. When I got back home we left to go get her. It was 11:10 am. It's a 5 hour drive to where she is at. We got there about 4:00pm. She looked bad, her eyes were red and swelled, and her body was swelled. She couldn't hardly walk. Oh my God, I couldn't believe it.

Well, spring break was starting friday so we had to pack up her room and get it ready for check out. (which isn't to bad, you don't remove everything, just the open food and unplug everything). She told us she did not have her prescription. She said she felt to bad to wait for it to be filled, so we went to CVS and picked up the prescription. It was Sulfamethoxazole/TMP DS which is the generic for Bactrim. I handed it to her through the window and I got into her truck (she was riding we her Dad) and we started home

I was talking with her Dad on our cells and he said she had taken her antibiotics. She dropped the bottle on the floor and couldn't reach them. About, 2/3 of the way home we stopped at Sonic to grab a burger. She was still feeling bad but didn't seem to be as bad. I think that is when she took the Bactrim. We got home about 11:00 pm and she seemed worse. I wanted to take her back to the emergency room but she said no. She said, I will be alright, I'm tired and I just want to go to bed. Well, I couldn't sleep all night for worrying and checking on her. I think it was about 4:00 am when I finally went to sleep. She was on the couch and I slept on the love seat. I woke me up at 5:30 am, checked on her. She was still feeling bad. I gave her the Bactrim again, along with some tylenol. She went back to sleep and I left for a meeting at work. Her Dad stayed there. After my meeting I came straight home. When I got there her Dad said she had been sleeping. I checked on her and she was burning up with fever, her eyes extremely red and glassy.She said she had taken tylenol around 11:00am and she didn't want to go to the emergency room. I called the doctor but they were closed for lunch. They close from 12:00 - 2:00. At 1:45 we left for the doctors office. I decided they were going to see her no matter what. When we got there and they seen her, they took her right in. She had a fever of 102.4 and had taken tylenol 3 hours before. They give her some more tylenol. The doctor examined her right away. She was complaining with her neck hurting, her stomach, her head hurt really bad, body aches, stiffness in her joints, weak, sensitivity to light, chills, eye irritation, dizziness, she was swollen all over her body, she was red all over her body, she had a rash on her face, and she was itching on her feet and hands, she was really bad. The doctor was very concerned. We told her the events that led up to this. She said she was concerned about meningitis. She sent her to the emergency room. The doctor there started her on an IV for fluids and then commenced to give her medicine through the IV, one of which was Benadryl. He never said it was an allergic reaction to the Bactrim. He did say she was given the wrong antibiotic. He said she had a severe kidney infection and that Bactrim was the wrong antibiotic for it. He did blood work and a urine test. Her liver enzymes were out of wack and he order a hepatitis test. He said not to take the Bactrim and gave her a different antibiotic and some pain medicine. Take tylenol only if she needs it for fever. After 2 bags of fluid, numerous other medicine, and allergy eye drops, her redness started going away, the rash was still there but not as bad, her fever was down and she looked better (not good but better), he gave instructions to she our doctor tomorrow, follow up on the liver / hepatitis panel, and if anything changes in her condition that night to come back to the hospital. By the next morning (3/11/05) she was alot better. I took her back to our doctor. She read over the blood work and all of the notes from the ER doctor. She said she believes it was an allergic reaction to the Bactrim. She said she would check on the results of the hepatitis panel and wants her back next week to do some more blood work to check on her liver. If they numbers are still out of wack she is going to refer her to a GI (a liver specialist, don't know how to spell it).

When we got home I started researching Bactrim and found your articles on it. I thank God she didn't take but 3 tablets. I will be praying that the test next week come back OK. I am going to contact our local news channels and let them know about your website and the bad side affects and deaths that have been caused by Bactrim. People need to know this and I guess the government or the makers aren't going to tell them.

Doris B, Katy, Tx. USA

BACTRIM DS: 15 March 2005


I have been prescribed Bactrim DS every year for the last several years for a seasonal allergy problem that turns into a sinus infection and bronchitis. Coincidentally, every year I experience a bout of severe depression, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia & nightmares that last for about two weeks. Until this past week I d never put two & two together. I d always put it down to stress at work. Still, there always seems to be something unreal about these periodic attacks. I usually suffer from a low level of daily anxiety, but nothing so intense & debilitating as I ve gone through in the last couple of weeks while on Bactrim.

I started to get suspicious and reviewed my notes from my journals and found that I was taking Bactrim during these periods. Several years ago I had a truly frightening experience with Floxin, where I couldn t sleep for three days & was in a constant state of panic. When I began to hallucinate I realized that something must be wrong with the prescription and stopped taking it. My reaction to Bactrim was similar, but not as extreme.


SEPTRA DS: 17 March 2005

Just an email to let you know that I began Septra DS on 8 March and by 10 March I had a severe knot in my stomach in the am, followed by nausea, lack of appetite and lethargy.

This turned into progressive pain, which had me writhing all night (12 March) and in the ER on 13 March thinking it was my gallbladder. (No one thought it was the Bactrim--nor did I!) In fact, the ER doc told me to keep taking the Bactrim because my urine had leukocytes (despite no dysuria).

My pain was constant, increased with walking (kind of a peritoneal pain--diffuse with acute epigastric--radiating to my right epigastric area).

US of my gallbladder was WNL and my lab studies were WNL except for my urine. I couldn't walk traight--it hurt to stand straight. By 14 March I had a red, raised pruritic plaque-like rash underneath both of my eyes.

After stopping the medication (and the Tylenol 3# I had taken for two days to function) I began to feel better. By day 3--after NO medication--I can walk again and have just remnants of my rash under my eyes--my epigastria area is a little sore but I am fully recovering.

Elke Z

BACTRIM: 22 March 2005

I recently was prescribed Bactrim for a UTI. As I am 52, I'm guessing I've taken sulfa antibiotics before. On the 3rd day I awoke with a very high fever and thought I had the flu. The doctor swabbed my nose twice in 2 days and reported that I did not have the flu. My temperatures ranged from 100 to 104. On the 5th day of high fever, mostly in the 102-103 range, I was hospitalized for 5 days and on IV fluids for severe dehydration, on Vicodan, Benedryl, Zantac, Valium the whole time.The last night in the hospital I had a terrible problem breathing and had to be given oxygen. I did not develop a rash until the 8th day after the fever started, the 10th day after I first started taking Bactrim. The rash went away almost immediately but started again with a vengance 2 days after I was home. It was so bad I went to the doctor's 2 days in a row and begged for a shot of Cortisone. I still am somewhat itchy (nothing like before) but can't see any rash.

I have seen almost nothing about the terrible fever.My fever was 104 or higher at least 3 times in that period. I am now wearing a MedicAlert bracelet.

Kerry F

SMZ/TMP: 25 March 2005

Hi Brian,

I just ran into your website when looking into a possibility that I might have started an allergy to the antibiotic smz/tmp. I had been on chemotherapy (for leukimia) for four months during which my oncologist put me on this drug to prevent bacterial infections of the lungs since I have immune system supression. The dosage is two pills a day for three days a week. When I first started on SMZ/TMP I did fine at the beginning. Then after three and a half months of being on this, I started rashes, itchy bumps like spider bites, all over my body, mostly on the tummy, arms, under arms, thighs, legs., nothing on the face or in the mouth. It's been going on more than three weeks now and it's driving me crazy. I told my oncologist about me possibly starting an allergic reaction to the smz/tmp but he says the rash doesn't look like that one. On your site I read people having itchy bumps like mine, I think my intuitions are right and I might have started an allergic reaction to this antibiotic or something else since my immune system is weak, I even remember the day the allergy started, I had diarreah and green stool. Since than the itching started, and I'm itching mostly at night. Is it possible to start an allergic reaction to smz/tmp after four months of use, even though I did well for three and a half months on this drug? By the way thank you for the site and any advice you can give me,

Karen Z.

TMP/SULFA DS: 26 March 2005

Hi Brian,

I am a 40 year old male in excellent health. I had developed a cold and had a plugged up ear. I went to an extended care clinic and was prescribed a drug called TMP/Sulfa DS. It was prescribed as 1 tablet twice a day. I took the 2 tablets my first day and had all kinds of problems such as loss of appetite, hands shaking, dry mouth, anxiety, insomnia and I developed a panic attack as well.

I went off the tablets the very next day. Thank god my family noticed these changes in me as well. I then went to an ear, nose and throat Dr. and was prescribed flonase for my plugged up ear and I'm hoping this will work for me.

I thank you for your site and hope it can help out someone else.



BACTRIM: 30 March 2005


I was visiting your website about Bactrim, and I came upon your website by searching for the long term effects of bactrim. Well, I was prescribed sulfameth which is a generic name for bactrim and the weird

thing is I was prescribe this for acne and not urinary tract infections or ear infections which I know it's

supposed to be for those purposes, but my doctor prescribed it for me for acne. I was at another dermatologist today and she told me that it's very dangerous that I took sulfameth for like 2.5 years! and when I'd ask my old doctor if it's okay to be using it for so long he said its fine since I wasn't forming any allergies or rashes to it!

Now I feel like something is wrong with my back and I dunno if I should related to the drug but I read on

another site that this drug reduces white blood cells which could lead to bone marrow and I'm worried that

it could be the case I still havent checked with a doctor about this but thought I should let you guys know.


SEPTRA DS: 31 March 2005

Hi Brian

I just tried to take this drug and after about three days I broke out with a big rash and fever. Then the next day the rash was gone but then my whole body felt like it was on fire and I couldn t stand as much as a sheet on me. It felt like a mattress on top of me. Are we talking about the same pill? I was given it for inter ear infection and my ears ring ever since.

Thank you for your info.



SMZ TMP DS: 3 April 2005

Thanks for this research.. I would have had no idea..

I was prescribed the smz tmp for a infection of the skin . The medicine cleared up the problem almost immediately. After a few weeks however I began experiencing severe heat aches, fever of 100.2 and general fatigue. Pain in the eyes, neck stiffness and loss of appetite, I stopped the medicine today.

I would warn others - I am 44yr.old male , am very healthy otherwise and am no match for this drug...

Thanks again

Greg H.

BACTRIM: 9 April 2005

Hello Brian,

Update to my case if you want it for your email pages.

I ended up back in the hospital last night. My arms and legs became extremely swollen to a point I lost feeling in my hands and feet and Hives covered my body. When I started having a hard time breathing my wife took me to the ER. They have me a EPI shot, and steroids and put my on an IV, and within 15 minutes the swelling and hives were gone, but not my severe abdominal pain. The doctor at the ER pulled my chart and saw that I was treated for "diverticulitis" (which I believe was just bactrim infecting my bowels the last time too), and said it just miraculously reappeared, coincidentally during another reaction to bactrim. He gave me cipro and protozone and metholadizine for that, and I took it last night and hopefully I can kick this. I seem to be feeling better in my bowel and am pretty certain that my digestive issues arent just a coincidence.

Thank you for taking my emails, and I am planning on contacting some of my local media organizations who will investigate and harrass any large company, including this one if the story merits it. With your permission I would like to reference your site if I may.

Thanks again

Bill S, Michigan

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