SMZ-TMP - Septra - Ectaprim - Bactrim: mail to this site on side-effects (15)

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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  BACTRIM: 9 April 2005

Aloha Brian

First off I would like to thank you immensely for this web site, I only wish I had research it before my partner had taken 6 days (of the prescribed 12) of Bactrim. Greg, who is 48, came down with the flu on Easter Sunday. After 6 days bronchitis was setting in so he went to the doctor. Being HIV+, the doctor gave him a prescription for Bactrim to stop any type of pneumonia from developing. The first day a terrible headache started which should have been an omen of what was to come. The next day a fever joined the growing list of painful effects. The fever began spiking to 103 and a rash started to develop.

Thinking these are just severe flu symptoms he continued on the med for 6 days. On day seven he went back to the medical center and saw a different doctor because his was his own doctor was out. This new doctor stated that Greg is probably having a reaction to Bactrim, told him to throw it away and gave him a new prescription for a different antibiotic. By the next morning after another horrendous sleepless night, Greg was so swollen and covered with a head to toe rash that burned from the inside out. The pain had reduced Greg to moaning and sobbing. Rushing him to the E.R. he eventually found treatment with 2 EPI shots, Benydryl and Prednisone.

It is now 3 days after his last dose of Bactrim and 2 days of treatment for its horrible effects. Greg is vastly improved although still covered with a rash. The swelling has gone down and the headache and body pain have almost vanished. He still is very weak though. I am very concerned that there may be lasting bad effects, being that his immune system is already suppressed by HIV and the toxicity of the "cocktail". Isn't the Prednisone suppressing his immune system also? Why aren't doctors aware of the potential problems with this drug and if they are, why don't they alert the patient to the possible side-effects. Our doctor didn't even seem to think that it was important to begin treating the allergic reaction. I firmly believe this was a potentially fatal situation and I also believe there could be long term effects. I have always questioned the quality of the healthcare here on Maui but reading all these letters I see it is everywhere.

Brian you are doing great and wonderful thing. I'll try and do my part by spreading the word.

Aloha and mahalo,


SEPTRIN: 12 April 2005

Hello there

My father died in 1993. he was taking septrin for years prior to this and suffered many of the side effects. he was visited by a specialist from Wales and was asked what medication he was taking. As soon as he mentioned septrin the doctor told him to stop taking it straight away. He was marginally better for a while but deteriorated over a period of time. We did not think anything about it at the time but have since heard of the problems with this drug and cannot believe that it was prescribed to my Dad and was the cause of many of his problems which made his life miserable.

Please feel free to contact me.

Alison H.


I was given two weeks of this medication, unsure of the dose, but two good sized pills each day for 14 days. This medication was for a urinary track infection. Since taking the medicine I am running into serious issues with Anxiety and near panic attacks. I am shaky and somewhat weak. I have lost my appetite, but worst off for me is the anxiety and the near panic attacks. I think it best in light of the situation to stop taking the medication early. I have finished 8 of the 14 days, but the anxiety is really strong especially about 3-4 hours after taking the medicine.

ECTAPRIM: 18 April 2005

Hi Brian,

Thank God I found your web site. We just came back early from a trip to Mexico, San Felipe, because my son, who is 5 years old, got some kind of stomach infection. So I was desperate, because he was vomiting a lot and he had a high fever. I went to a pharmacy and they gave me Ectaprim for children also Sulfa/Trime drug. He seems to have gotten better, because he stop vomiting and his fever went down, but he has some kind of rash around his anus,groin and all in his tongue. We took him yesterday to the E.R just as a precaution and they just told us to stop using it. And nothing else. I'm really upset about that. Needles to say I'm totally freaked out about all the stories. I have stopped giving him the Ectaprim but he took it 4 times and only 5ml's at a time every 12 hours. Please let me know if this could be something bad or should I take him back to the E.R., or take him to his Pediatrician.

Thank you


Ruben (Worried Dad), CA

SEPTRA: 21 April 2005

I was prescribed this medicine yesterday to treat an inflamed and infection throat and sinuses. Within about two hours of taking the medication I became extremely nauseous and vomited several times. I attributed this to the ice cream I ate which may have been sitting on the counter too long but I now know better after taking a second dose. But that’s not all, I came down with an intense fever and superhuman skull splitting headache. The pressure was heavily focused in my frontal lobe. My eyes became heavily glazed with a reddish covering. I also experienced chills that were at sub-human temperatures. My body was twisting and turning, my leg, thighs, and feet in agony. Let’s just say, I wasn’t feeling too good. I’ve been battling with a cold over the past week and half but never felt anything like this. Well, it turns out that Septra, also known as Bacterim and Setrin, is restrictive for use in the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />UK and there have been all sorts of deaths and horrific side effects related to people taking this drug. In short, Septra is not for everyone and especially not for me. I would advise each and every one of you to seek an alternative if presented with this drug. I will be taking Keflex in its place which has been proven effective before. You have no idea how bad I feel right now.

A friend of mine who heard about this, wrote to me and said she had lost 20 pounds over a three week period when she was prescribed this medicine. She was successful at banning the use of Septra in several counties and published in her findings and experience in several journals. That's all I am going to say since she signed an agreement not to go public with her experience and the particulars of which hospital it was, etc.

Stay away from this medicine if you want to live a long, happy, and productive life. That's my advice.

Jim C -- Los Angeles, CA

SMZ/TMP DS 800-160: 25 April 2005

I was given Septra for a Staph infection. I have been taking the meds for 7 days now. I have had chills, fever, been light-headed and the feeling of having an anxiety attack. I had a bloated feeling 3 days after taking the meds and I am currently constipated. (I have drank plenty of water for fear of getting kidney stones). I have suffered severe stomach pains that would normally go away with Tagament. ( I was previously diagnosed with Acid Reflux Syndrome but have watched my diet as to prohibit a sour stomach) Have been nauseated, and has suffered from loss of appetite.

I have had severe headaches and stiffness of neck but because of prior neck injury and history of migraines, I was unable to relate the headaches and stiffness to the medication. However, after contemplation over what I could have done the few days prior to the headaches starting, I realized that I did no heavy lifting or did not overexert myself in anyway. The only explanation is the Septra. I also have suffered from blurred vision, or spots. All of this is unexplainable. I ran a fever a few days before I started the medication and then it has been intermittent since then, off and on again. none of my symptoms are constant as I don't take them at the same time everyday. I always take one before going to be because of the headaches that I get and normally try to take the morning one around 9:00.

Today I took one at about 11:00 and my head feels like it is going to split open across the back, I am finding it very bothersome to see with the spots in my eyes as well.


SEPTRA: 26 April 2005

Brian, this has been quite an awakening to the reactions that a drug can cause. After pouring through the emails of others unfortunate experiences I feel fortunate that I may have escaped a potential situation of my own. I was perscribed SMZ/TMP DS (Septa DS) for a sinus infection. This was to be a 15 day dosage 2 times daily. On day 14 I noticed a red rash on my legs extending upward to my chest and somewhat onto my arms. At that point I quit taking this med. and started researching the side effects. Red rash seems to be very common to this type drug. On day 15 I called my Dr. office and they said the rash is common, use Benedryl and it will go away. Today is day 15 and I am writing this with the rash still though it seems to be subsiding some you can bet I will be watching it closely in the following days. I have not used the Bendryl or anything else as I have not had any other symptoms except for a mild tingling of my skin which may be more paranoia than anything. Needless to say I will not be re-filling this perscription or taking any of the other sulfonamide based drugs.

Thanks for the enlightenment.

James B, Oregon, USA


I don't usually contact people that I don't know via the internet, for fear of a virus, but I had to tell you this.

I am a registered nurse, a healthy, active 37 year old mother of 2 girls, usually very strong.

2 weeks ago, I felt that I had a sinus infection, my teeth tingled, I had a pressure across the bridge of my nose. I tried to treat it with otc advil cold/sinus. No relief, I even went to the dentist to make sure that my teeth were O.K. (which they were).

One week ago, while at work at the hospital, saw one of the DR's. Had sinus x-rays, and was put on "APO-SULFATRIM 400/80 MG ,2 tabs, twice a day x 10 days. The next day (Mon. ) woke up with an incredible headache, going up into my left eye. Went back to ER, was put on prednisone 50 mg x 3 days. That afternoon, had my first ever anxiety attack : in the early hours of Wed am , around 1 am, went again to the hospital with a migraine H/A. Never had one before in my life,

The headaches and anxiety continued during the week, had palpitations, generalized feelings of weakness / fatigue, .Went back to the ER on Thurs, was given "nasonex " for the sinus, H/A continued; had a CT on Fri. Very strange feelings of vagueness, also, each time that my b/p was checked...unusually high. I normally run 110/60, different checks 175/83, 189/91, finally the lowest recorded was 139/79. Still to high for me.

I took 6 full days of the med. , and dose on Sat am. It finally peaked on Sat at lunch time...full blown panic attack. VERY SCARY. I then again went back to the hospital Sat evening, blood work normal.

It has been 48 hrs since I last took the med, I am still having feelings of anxiousness, my headache is not as bad as it was , but it is still present, I lost 5 lbs lat week, have been having trouble sleeping, vivid dreams which I am able to recall. I have been drinking lots of water to try to get this out of my system.

I took this drug back in 2001, for a throat infection, but then it was dispensed as "septra " , not the generic that I had last week . I recall having a headache, but no other adverse reactions. ( I keep a journal of a sort , that is how I can look back ).

FOOTNOTE: lost 2 days of scheduled work due to this, ruined our weekend plans, and don't very often go to ER , but out of 7 days, was there for 5 visits.....Not my normal type of lifestyle.



SMZ/TMP: 2 May 2005

I am writing from the US and was given the antibiotic smz/tmp for a foot infection. 11 days after starting the medication I woke up to an itchy rash from head to toe. My podiatrist told me to stop taking the smz/tmp and take Benadryl until the rash goes away.

Also 3 days into taking the drug, I had the worse headache accompanied with nausea that I had ever felt in my life. I could barely move and to even think hurt more than I can explain. I am 33 years old and have never had a reaction to anything in my life. Out of curiosity I decided to look up my reaction and found your website. I have never looked up the side effects to a drug before, but will be sure to do it from now on.

Dawn H.

BACTRIM: 9 May 2005

Hi yas

Well I first found out I was allergic to Sulpha based meds, when my allergist prescribed it for a particularly resistant sinus infection.

After my 2nd dose my right foot started to itch and then to swell. Then the redness settled in and it just kept swelling and then streaks started going up my leg. Heh heh that was the point I went to the ER.

It seems it gave me almost immeadiate blood poisoning.

I have since developed a complete intolerance/allergy to Sulpha in any form ... Sulfates and Sulfites. I am now feeling like I am on a baby food diet since the only things I have found to be sulfite free are Cream of Wheat cereal and Oatmeal. I am still looking for other foods that are sulfite free, but it isn't easy. When I get sulfites in my diet I wind up sick for days on end and a migraine for as long as I am sick.

Sue W, Houston, TX

SEPTRA: 14 May 2005

Hi Brian:

I am just experiencing my second allergic reaction to the drug Septra which I was given back in 1997 for persistent UTI's. I stayed out of the sun but developed a dark red erythema just above my ankles on both legs which became inflamed and this along with general lethargy sent me to the Emergency Room. At the time the attending physician suspected Septra and told me not to take it again.

On Thursday I went to the Clinic for an infected toe and did not notice that Septra was the antibiotic of choice. This time after one pill the reaction was quick. My feet and legs became swollen, the lingering discoloration inflamed along with a cough and trouble breathing. I stopped it immediately and am now more aware.

I'm feeling like I've been poisoned.

Thanks for the information,

Judith T, Suffolk VA. USA

SULFATRIM: 15 May 2005

Hello Brian,

My name is James Wright, I am 20 years old from New York. I was recently precribed Bactrim DS for a sinus infection. I took 2 pills a day for ten days. The first few days I just had an extremely difficult time getting to sleep and staying asleep. I know that every antibiotic has its side effects so I thought nothing of it and just toughed it out. After 5 days on the medication, I was able to sleep fine but started getting light to moderate headaches on the top of my head that moved back to the read of my head and into my neck. Also,

there were periods of time that I felt very lightheaded - a kind of off-balanced feeling. My heart also seemed to be beating a bit harder and faster than normal. At night (in the silence of my bedroom) I noticed a high-pitch ringing in the ears. I sleep with a fan on to drown it out. Finally I got to day nine and the headaches were very painful and distracting now. I kept telling myself, "just one more day" for my sinus infection was gone but i was not going to stop the meds early for fear of it returning and me having to do this all over again!

Day 10 - took my last pill and smiled in relief -- too little too late THat afternoon my skin broke out in an itchy rash all over my body - I developed a 101 degree fever and sever body aches and chills. I felt incredibly ill - like I had a mega case of the flu. Went to the doc the next morning (on zero sleep mind you), was told that it was an allergic reaction to the sulfa - was given prednisone and some allegra

to help the itching. Went home and spent the next 2 days in bed

Three days later - the fever's gone. The rash is getting better, and the headaches are still there along with lines of swollen glands in my neck. My question is, from your research and reading, do you have any

idea how long the reaction effects may persist after stopping the meds? ALso, I still get those hour-long periods of dizziness - will those go away soon!? they are really annoying!!!

THank you for the invaluable info on this site... and letting me know that I'm not alone

James W.


Hi Brian Deer,

I first want to say thank you for allowing me to get some information on what I believe to be a dangerous drug! My main reason for writing is to see if my symptoms may be due to the side effects of using SMZ/TMP DOUBLE-STR.

Last week, I was feeling like a truck ran over me. My head was very congested and the pain in my body was from my head all the way down to my back. I thought I just had a head cold. I took Allieve, and cold medicine for the flu. None of the symptoms went away, not even a little bit. The pain in my lower back was so severe that I needed assistance to get to the hospital.

My doctor prescribed SMZ/TMP DOUBLE-STR, she said she believed there were signs of UTI.

I was given 6 tablets and was instructed to take the pills 2x a day for the next 3 days. After the 3rd pill on day # 2, I had had ENOUGH! Yes the pain did go away, but the feeling of weakness, nauseating, and worst of all, loss of appetite, and horrible taste in my mouth was just unbearable.

It has been 3 days since I stopped taking those pills and my appetite is almost back to normal, but the listlessness, and horrible taste in my mouth is still prevalent.

Diane W.

BACTRIM: 18 May 2005

Hi Brian,

Thank you for publishing your web site. I found it the most helpful regarding the use of Bactrim.

I am HIV+ and was prescribed Bactrim for PCP. It took care of that problem but now I am left with severe itching which seems to be a side effect other people have mentioned. I can't sleep at night it is so bad. I am taking Atarax which sometimes helps but still itch all the time. I have been off Bactrim for a week. Like the other person, does anyone have a similar experience and how long does it take for the effects to wear off. Is there anything that relieves the itching?

Bill H.



Is there any link to sulfamethoxazole and depression or suicide in teens? Our 14 year old son died by suicide about 6 weeks after being treated with this medicine. He had no history of depression and up until a short time before he died, he had been a very outgoing, happy young man. I hadn't even considered this at first because I never thought an antibiotic would have that effect but then I just felt a strong urge to check into it. I would appreciate it if you could direct me to any information that might be pertinent. Thank you for your time.

Paula B.

SMZ/TMP: 22 May 2005

I was prescribed SMZ/TMP for a infection, and they didnt even know if it was a Urinary Infection, I took the pills on the first day, and felt really strange and called my sister because I was feeling depressed,anxious,restlessness,and uneasy. Well that was the best day I had on it, there were worse to follow. A few days later I took my dose and went to work, I then started having breathing problems and really moody, and all the symptoms I felt the day before, but ten times worse. I then changed moods/personalities, it made me have rage and I felt like I wanted to hit things and I was cursing and anyone who talked to me, I cused them out. I also had a state where I was really confused, where I was at, and what was going on. I remember just sitting there on some steps slumped up against a shelf, and sliding down the steps and I had no reaction. People were talking to me and up in my face and I remember seeing and hearing them but I could not get out of the state I was in and eventually went to the Emergency Room. Finally, today, which is the reason I was on the site, looking at the side effects, I took it and it was bad for about a hour/hour and a half. Felt really depressed, so depressed I have suicide on my mind, along with being restless and not caring about anything that was going on. I was angry and frustrated and couldnt concentrate on anything, I could not urinate, and now looking back on the previous times I took the pill, I did not urinate while on it. I had severe headaches, and I just felt like I was dying. This pill may help some people, but I know its not for me. I am lucky I came out of it ok because it really makes you depressed and susceptable to doing things you would not normally think of doing. So thats my experience, I will not be taking this again, no matter what my doctor says. I think it is in my best intrest.


SEPTRA: 22 May 2005

My Mom is an 80 year old who suffers from chronic kidney failure and urinary tract infections often. She has done well with the drug Septra ... until now.

I forgot and took her to the bird sanctuary at the beach. Today she looks like she has very large chicken pox all over her body. They itch and burn, she says. Her doctor is new and prescribed Bactrim DS. She has never had double strength before. Thank goodness her kidney specialist told me to only give her 1/2 a pill per day. God Bless Dr. Dewberry in Clearwater, Florida! At least he knew what too much of this could do. I had no idea about all the very serious side effects and deaths from this drug. I did the Google thing and found this web page. It is Sunday night and currently most pharmacies are closed here, so I couldn't get much detailed information on allergic reactions to this drug. I am very glad she only got 1 & 1/2 pills before she started showing reactions. I'm covering her skin spots with topical Benadryl cream.

Diabetics with bad kidneys should not take antihistamines without asking the kidney doctor. Whew! Thanks for the information. Hopefully, we dodged a bullet on this one. I wish doctors knew more about drugs.

MC, Florida.

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