Bactrim - Septra DS - sulfamethoxazole: mail to this site on side-effects (17)

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: 22 July 2005

My name is Richard,im disabled and without any type of insurance.Having pains in my groin and other private areas i went to the local clinic thinking i had another case of swolen or infected prostate gland.Im 35yrs old and have had two bad cases of prostate infections in my life.I ask the dr.for cipro,willing to pay for a higher priced drug,because it worked before, i was unable to convince the dr.of the perscription,and she prescribed me bactrim 880/180.Im allergic to penn,codine,kelflex,asprin,biaxin xl.and ibuprofen over 600mg breaks my scalp out in big itchy bumps.Well anyway at 11:00pm same night i took my 2nd bactrim,id already noticed itching on my middle fingers of each hand.

But i have psorisis on my hands so i brushed of the feeling and started for bed. While brushing my teeth i noteced red and purple like blotches and boil like lumps on my belly sides and arms,but since i had no trouble breathing i sat up till 4am to see what would happen,then went to bed.Awakening at 8:45 to the most violent chills ive ever had i immediately checked my temp,97.7 and the tremoring was uncontrollable.I got my family up and went to the ER.When the Drs looked at me they gave me a shot of steroids and a benedral pill.It took about an hour and a half for the violent chills to leave me,i couldnt even smell of food for the nausua,and after the blood and urine screen came back normal,the drs sent me home with a steroid pack and levaquin 500mg for 10 days.Ive been in bed off and on all day,about 12hrs or more.Something told me in a way not to take the sulfa drug but on the other hand i felt it was better too because it was cheaper.Thank God i didnt die from this ordeal,but belieave me i felt like i would die right there in the ER.Ive never been so sick in my life,when i was trying to talk to the er drs i had to hold my jaw still with my hand to stop the quivering,so they could understand me.I hope this helps someone and to all parents everywhere,never let a dr give this drug to your child,if it done this to me imagine what a child would go through,i know im not alone in this,i just got off your web site,keep up the good work and God bless in Jesus name all who read this.


BACTRIM: 26 July 2005

Hi Brian

I've taken Bactrim DS three times now. Right now I'm taking it for a UTI (same as before). Two a day for 10 days. This time is not like the others. My symptoms weren't that bad because I caught it early. The first day I had bad headaches, one minute I could be so hungry and when I try to eat I feel nauseous. I have abdominal pain that comes and goes. And every time that I've taken this medicine my period had been a week late (including this time). I'm 30 and the only time my period was even a day late was the two times I found out I was pregnant with my two kids, this isn't the case now because I've had a tubal. I'm on day 6 of 10 days and my bladder infection is still there. Actually my burning and itching are constant, not very intense but very uncomfortable. I didn't have these symptoms when I started this medicine.

Thanks for listening


SMZ/TMP DS: 30 July 2005

im 13 and took smz/tmp ds and I would feel hot than I had a panic attack so I stopped taking it (it was for mrsa which colonized under my skin) and I have been feeling better so far but this is the 1st day I havent takin it so I just have to see!



Our dog, Oscar, died a week ago of liver failure. A month before he was given sulfamethoxazole for an infected sore on his leg. He was an Irish Water Spaniel and only four years old. He was a great dog, very loving, although a bit immoral when it came to chicken. Oscar figured out how to open our refrigerator and help himself to left over chicken, cheddar cheese and anything else that smelled good to him. We loved our dog and he did not have to die.

This is certainly not as tragic as some of the stories you have covered in your articles about Bactrim, etc. but an interesting connection perhaps.


Lori, USA.

BACTRIM: 6 August 2005

Hey Brian,

Just found your website because I was interested in this horrible drug my DR prescribed to me for sinus infection. The only thing I thought I was allergic to was penicillan. I took 1 tablet at 7:30 AM and less than 2 hours I felt aches all over & nausea. Temperature escalated to 103. These symtoms lasted for 2 days. This is the 3rd day that my body is totally worn out. I called my DR the morning of symtoms, she still has not called me back (3 days later)

Time for a new doctor-don't you think?

Jessie C.

BACTRIM: 8 August 2005

Just happened to find your website while searching for side effects of the drug. You see, I too have had reactions to the drug. I was taking the generic form for a urinary tract infection last week. Thank goodness my complaints are minor compared to those on your site. My problems were shaky hands, bloated stomach, severe sharp pain in the hip, a knee that felt out of wack, and jaw pain. I feel fine now although fearful of recurrence. I will never take Bactrim again! Thanks for letting people share their stories. The public should be more informed.


BACTRIM: 17 August 2005

Thank you for all the information via internet regarding Bactrim. My doctor prescribed this for treatment for an earache August 1.

I became so ill I thought I was going to die. I took 10 of the 14 tablets (generic brand). I feel so shaky inside, it is difficult for me to walk and feel like crap. Am 78 years young and not ready to die--at least not because of a bad drug that should not even be on the market. Do you know of anything that could counter this or help me get back to normal?

Thanks so much for all the information. May God bless you.

Dorothy S

BACTRIM: 17 August 2005

Dear Mr. Deer,

Came across your internet site when I typed in "Bactrim DS" and was very much relieved to know that I am not alone with medication problems.
Here is my dilemma - I have suddenly developed an allergy to this medication. I break out in hives and turn bright red everywhere within about 15-20 minutes and the sensations stay around 4-6 hours.

I am prone to urinary infections. Suffered an accident when I was about 4-years old and things didn't quite developed the way they normally should. In fact, I have a dropped and somewhat displaced bladder. About 10-years ago I had a partial hysterectomy and at the time the doctor attempted to pack and tack up my bladder. Pretty sure it has now "fallen and can't get back up" - as the saying goes.

Anyway, I am happily married (well most of the time) to my husband of 26-years and have problems during intercourse with hitting the bladder. Although he thinks he is small in that area, I find him to be well endowed - at least for me. So anyway, last year my OBGYN doctor prescribed Bactrim DS to be taken at bedtime and before interaction to hopefully relieve the problem with getting bladder infections after. This had been great. BUT, twice now I have broken out in hives and I am unwilling to take it any more. I have been an unwilling victim of anaphylactic shock twice.

Drug allergies and other allergies run deep in my family background. My drug allergies listing include - penicillin, codeine, floxin, compazine, ceftin, iodine, macrobid (I was the 1st person out of 10,000 women who had a severe allergic reaction to this drug according to my doctor!), erythromycin, hydrocodone, and now Septra (Bactrim DS).

I also have a large number of food allergies and am also lactose intolerant. I won't go into detail about my environmental allergies but they include - dust, mold, weeds, trees, and grasses. Did I mention certain bugs too. But, that "glass bubble" is not for me!

Yes, I drink the cranberry juice, eat yogurt, no deodorant products, no thong panties, bath with Jergens or Caress (allergic to Ivory soap), and have increased my water/fluid intake. The only regular medication I take is Premarin. Work full time and am active in community events, church, etc.

Yes, I understand that I am a "special person" but I deal with life very well in spite of these challenges... I try to maintain a sense of humor and pass it on :)

I celebrated my 50th birthday last week and plan on being around for some time, if the good Lord is willing.... so, is there another type of drug therapy I can try and/or is there something more "natural" to help with this problem?

Anxiously awaiting your response for a "better bladder"....

Thank you for your time.....

C. W. San Antonio, Texas

BACTRIM: 20 August 2005

I was given Bactrim 6 days ago at Planned Parenthood for a UTI. I never take antobiotics because I was given so many 14 years ago for e.coli/salmonella, and my naturopath says I shouldn't use them unless absolutely neccessary. Fearing a bladder or kidney infection, i got the generic for Bactrim.

since taking it i have been unable to sleep, have had no appetite for anything though i feel hungry, but i have been BEYOND anxious with my heart racing and nothing calming me down.

i am not taking the last two pills, but worry about the UTI returning. i'll take my chances. i feel horrible on this drug and will never take it again.

i'm sticking to cranberry juice!

BACTRIM: 26 August 2005

Hello Brian,

I am a 19 year old female who was prescribed Bactrim for two ear infections. After taking the medicine for 3 days, I came down with severe panick attacks/anxiety and felt very shaky/my skin tingled. This tingle sensation on my skin made me almost dizzy and was very unsettling. My skin was so sensitive putting a jacket felt horrible. I have since stopped taking this medication and have been off of it for 24 hrs. I have felt no relief from these symptoms and was wondering when I would start to feel comfortable again. I was on Bactrim for 6 days- 2 pills per day. Please repond! Thanks so much for your great site.



Dear Mr. Deer,

I came across your site in much the same way others have--looking for answers. Like others, I feel relief in being able to find something that can explain better why it is that I feel the way I do. I would like to thank you for having this site open, so that others who are thinking to take Bactrim, or have taken it, have better knowledge of what this medication is capable of.

I have not, so far, had a reaction to my medication as severely as other have (thank god), but I don't feel that I'm completely out of the woods just yet, since I've been continuing to have one little problem after another since my prescription has ended. I'm hoping to god that soon, it will cease.

A few weeks ago, I decided to do a typical urinalysis on myself since I work in a laboratory and had been having a little suspicion that I was again having a UTI. Since January, I've had an on and off bout with UTIs but was able to have most relief after taking Cipro. Recently, I noticed a little feeling of the UTI again, hence the self-test. There they were, the bacteria, floating around once again. So, I asked the physician in the urgent care facility where I work, to give me a prescription to fight it off once and for all. I had tried the cranberry juice tactic for long enough and it didn't seem to make it go away completely.

So, the doctor asked me if I wanted the $100 or the $20 drug, and so, of course, I suggested I would prefer the lesser of the two. My assumption was that he would prescribe me with something like Nitrofur, but he didn't. I didn't actually realize what he prescribed me until I was at home and already had the prescription filled. He prescribed Trimethoprim/Sulfamethoxazole 800/160 tabs. I asked myself 'this sounds familiar, didn't I once tell myself never to take a sulfa drug?'. I pushed my thoughts to the side since I couldn't remember the reasons why I would have thought this, and just went along with it and figured it should be ok as long as it wasn't long term--I would just keep my eyes open for any of the typical allergic reaction symptoms.

I should have trusted my instincts and I should have looked the medication up in my 'essential guide to prescription drugs' as I almost always do before taking anything. This time I didn't, for some odd reason, against my better judgment. From now on, I will never take a drug without looking it up first.

The more that I have thought about it, the more I remember the negative feelings towards sulfa drugs. In the past when I was passing through the pill books, I remember coming across the sulfa drug entry and took note of all of it's adverse side effects and said to myself never to take it for many reasons; one of the main flags 'Aplastic Anemia'. But, it's been a while since I've been through the entire book, so I didn't remember well when I was actually faced with taking this drug.

I started taking it on the 18th and was fine for about 1 day with one pill 2xs daily. Then I woke up on the second day with a headache. I figured it was just a regular little headache and took some tylenol. The pain subsided. I went out to a ballpark and had 2 beers. Hours later, I went to a wine tasting shop where I had 3 small glasses of wine and then headed home. Nothing in the form that came with the medication indicated that alcohol could not or should not be consumed while taking it. Therefore, I didn't find any real reason not to have a couple of drinks.

The next morning, my gosh, I thought my head split into two. I assumed it was the wine that caused the pain and I hadn't been hydrating myself as much as I should have, since the medication requires heavy hydration. So, I kept hydrating and re-hydrating to keep my fluids in check and ate more yogurt than usual to keep my normal floral intact. I took another tylenol later in the day to combat the pain behind my eyes. The pain subsided again, but wasn't fully gone. Overall, though, I felt ok. I didn't feel tired or ill, or much else besides the pain in my head. At this point, though, some warning flags should have been sticking up, but to me, it seemed that I was just suffering a bit from hangover.

I continued with the pills. The next day, I woke up and noticed I had a slight itch in my throat and a bit sore at the left section of my pharynx. this wasn't an incredibly unusual thing for me, since I'm allergic to dust mites and occasionally awake with itchy throat. this however, didn't go away as I got myself out of bed and went on with my day. I tried gargling with salt water and drinking tea. it seemed to lessen a bit as the hours went on, but as I took another pill, it came back again within a couple of hours. I overlooked it and took the next pill. by the next day, the left lymph node in my neck was hard like a golf ball and enlarged quite a bit.

I did a rapid-strep test on myself at work, a gram-stain of my throat swabbing and found nothing but the usual pneumococci and other stuff that hang around there. I wasn't able to do a blood test on myself since I haven't found it easy to draw blood on myself. so, I was left to think that maybe I coincidentally picked up a virus at the very time I started the meds...maybe the meds left me open to illnesses I would normally be able to fight off... or that maybe the pneumococci were causing havoc on my system and weren't affected by the meds and were over populating in my throat. but, I didn't believe this really was the case, since many times this drug is used to help treat pneumonia. so, I didn't know what to really think at this point other than that I was now ill with something and needed to rest and keep drinking water and tea. I wasn't sure if it was the drug or if I was ill from something else, since the symptoms seemed viral-like, rather than anaphylactic-like. I had a fever and I was leaning toward the belief that it was something else, not the drug. I was nearly thinking I had picked up West Nile virus... the aching head, flu/meningitis type symptoms. (In all this time, I should have looked it up in my stinkin book! I see it now, right there in front of me--'Drug Fever'. I'm so stupid!)later in the day, I took another look at my throat and saw the bumps at the back of my throat, a bit of oral thrush coming along, and bumps on the surface of my tongue that started to bleed in one section. I gargled again with a heavy dose of salt water and drank about 3 large mugs of American Ginseng tea, which a Chinese friend of mine told me to take whenever it seemed that antibiotics were causing some kind of disturbance in the body, especially if it begins to show signs on the tongue. The antibiotics sometimes cause the body to 'overheat' and the American Ginseng can help control the balance. Strangely enough, it seemed to help a bit, the bleeding stopped soon after (about 3 hours later) and the oral thrush was gone. I kept drinking the tea for the next couple of days.

I wanted to stop the medication then, but then I was coaxed into it by a friend and myself into finishing it off, and so I did. I only had 2 days left to take it and I wasn't even sure if it was the drug that was causing me to feel ill in the first place, so I found it ok to finish it. usually it's best to keep taking antibiotics till the end so you don’t end up with resistant bacteria running around everywhere.

The doctor that prescribed it wasn't there the days I needed to speak with him, and everyone else seemed disinterested in giving me advice. most people thought I just picked up something from one of the patients, but I personally didn't believe this entirely, considering I hadn't dealt with any patients that week. I didn't have patient contact at this point. but, I couldn't entirely believe it was the drug either. I found it hard to believe that I would have these type of symptoms if I were having an adverse reaction to a drug. Usually when I have allergic reactions to things, I first start with one or two hives, then my throat tightens a bit, a little itching in the throat, and then it becomes filled with a mucus, and then the coughing. this usually happens all in the matter of an hour or so, to something I've been in contact with before and have an allergy to. it's the same ol same ol when it comes to allergies and me. I'm used to the signs and symptoms of allergic reactions in myself, and this didn't seem like one to me. it didn't run the usual coarse that allergies run with me.

Day 6 came and I started with the cough and massive sore throat and runny nose. I felt I really came down with something. I was still working, but I was sleeping on the job, literally. I didn't want to do anything. my neck ached and I was having to go to the bathroom every half hour. I kept drinking water and ginseng tea to keep up with the water loss. I again had a fever but it wasn't incredibly high. the nurses at work just let me sleep, even though all I could do was toss and turn; it was the third shift. I didn't actually notice until I had to draw a patient's blood that I had uncontrollable shaking. it was embarrassing and it interfered with my ability to do my job. could you imagine a tech coming at you with a needle and a shaking hand? I quit after the second patient and had someone else cover for me.

by the morning, I just wanted to find my bed and crawl in it and die. I didn't do that, of course, but I did take a short nap and felt better. the next night I worked, I decided to take an allergy pill, and lo and behold I started to feel better. this time, I was on my last round of the sulfa drug. I was coughing something similar to a bronchitis or pneumonia. very phlegmy. the allergy medication controlled this and kept me from having breathing problems and allowed me to feel less busy in the head. I was able to finally get better sleep and alleviate the headache that had been looming over my head for a couple of days.

The last sulfa pill came and hours later I was already feeling better. I was still coughing, but the day was going well, I was feeling so much better, until suddenly I started to feel an aching in my kidneys. this ended after I went to the bathroom about 5 times in the next 4 hrs. my neck ached again and my head started to fuzz up a little. as the day went on, I was ok, but still not feeling completely myself again. the next day, the day after my last pill, I awoke after sleeping a good 12 hrs solid, and found an itchy rash covering my extremities. I wasn't coughing as much nor did I have a head ache, but I was worried with the rash. tiny little red spots all over. I took a dose of Azomyr (desloratadina), which until now, has kept the rash away. it took a good 5 hrs for it to alleviate the rash, but it seems to be gone for good. unfortunately, again I have a headache, neck ache, my nose is still draining, and my bronchial tube has rustling. The rash is what brought me to do research on this medication. after I read what I did, I was even more worried. so, I ran my tests over (at least make myself feel better for getting something good out of all of this--to get rid of the infection!), and again, lo and behold, the bacteria were still there! resistant bacteria floating about. I nearly died at the sight of them sitting there staring me in the eye. and the real bugger of it all, what wasn't there before but is now, is bilirubin, a sign of liver damage. nice, huh? I've had a nice little run in with liver damage. I ran the confirm test on it, and yes, there's some bilirubin in a place it shouldn't be.

So, when I read that others claim that the benefits outweigh the risks, I must say that in my case, the risks most definitely outweigh the benefits. I didn't get any benefits from this experience, other than to be able to tell others never to take this medication in their life. always, always, always look into the possible risks of a drug outside the info the pharmacists give you, and consider the possibilities happening to you.

on my form it said 'in very rare cases, blah blah blah may happen'. I guess I'm a rare case along with the other hundreds of people who have posted something on your website. I'm still not over the side effects yet. I still feel congested, I still feel a little kidney pain, and I still have a headache, and it's been 2 days since I stopped taking the pills. I'm afraid of what I may find when I do further lab tests on myself tomorrow when I go to work. I hope that I'm lucky and didn't end up with further damage, however, my mother just saw me today and told me that I look a little yellow, which worries me a bit. I don't want to even think about it, it upsets me too much. I can't believe I was so foolish and didn't look into this more before I did what I did, like I usually do. it's one of those moments where you wish you could go back in time and just change one little itsy bitsy thing.... like reading the important instructions first! I would never have taken it if I had looked it up first. I would have known better than put myself at such risk. I can't believe that this medication is readily available and being prescribed in a country where silly 'kinderegg' candies can't even be sold. It's incredible the things that the government approves and disapproves. They approve aspartame that knowingly causes cancer in lab animals and allows it to be put in nearly type of food group, but disapprove of lichee jelly candies because some children can choke on them; a child could choke on a shoelace for god's sake. the things that should be banned aren't.

Anyway, I'm not sure, really, how long it will take to cleanse from my system-- do you have any idea? days? months? years? is the liver repairable after such damage due to sulfa drug use? is it permanent damage to the body? or can the body restore itself after exposure? any information would be helpful, since I know I won't get much help from work. I'm not sure if many people are fully aware of the serious risk involved in this medication, the medical community included. I believe the issues of this drug are seriously downplayed in this country.

Again, thanks for letting others give their stories and be heard.

Christina, Chicago, IL USA

SEPTRIN: 28 August 2005

Hi Brian I was just browsing and thought I would see what Septrin bought up I AM AMAZED!!!!! I was prescribed it 20 years ago and I remember my husband coming home and finding me sitting on the stairs he was horrified as my face had swollen right up and I was suffering from the most terrible migraine well worse than a migraine the pain was intolerable I was so ill. He helped me to bed and called the Doctor who said to stop taking the Septrin immediately. Having read the website I think I was one of the lucky ones but have struggled with my health ever since when I think about it one just adapts and presses on when there is a family to look after.

Reading all this has been a relief as I perhaps understand why I struggle so much as was always such a fit and energetic person. I do suffer from depression sometimes and will compare symptoms ! Thanks for the info.

Best wishes

Lyn C

BACTRIM: 30 August 2005

Dear Brian, I need your help. I came across your web page when I was researching the drug called Bactrim. My mother has just passed away on August 17, 2005. It was unexpected, her doctor put her on Bactrim. He stated she had impetigo and prescribe Bactrim for treatment. My mother had some health issues. She had emphsema, ( I don't think I spelt that right), sever asthma, sever anemic, high blood pressure, fatty liver, ulcers, miagraines,sudo seizures. I can not understand why her doctor would put her on a medicine with such bad side effects, knowing she had alot of health issues. The coroner told my dad there was no reason to do an autopsy, based on her medical history. The coroner did not sign the death certificate, my mom's doctor did. He stated on the certificate that she died of myocardial infarction (heart attack) with Acute Cardio Vascular Disease. My mother was never treated for any heart condition. Her doctor did not come to the hospital to do any test to see what she may have died of. I talked with the mortician and he said that my mom had fluid in both her lungs and no fluid was found in the kidneys, bladder or intestines. My mom did not die of a heart attack, I believe she drowned because of the fluid in her lungs. She had filled the perscription on 8/11, it contained 15 pills, 5 was missing and my mom was dead in five days. I had talked with her on Tuesday the 16 around 8:30 at night, she said she was fine, has not been able to urinate since taking the Bactrim pill. I told her to quiet taking it, she said she was going to. My mother passed away the next morning around 4:30 am. I did not figure it out until they had already embalmed my mom. I talked with the mortician and showed him my findings. He agrees with me. Can you please help me out on this research on Bactrim. I am trying to find an attorney to take our case. Please let me know what your comments our on this pill. I will continue to read on your web page. There is so much, I have not read all of it yet. Thank you and God bless. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

In Christ

Tonya Ellett

BACTRIM: 30 August 2005

Hello Brian,

I have known for years that drugs, for the most part, come with many side affects. I began taking Batrim for UTI approx. 3 weeks ago and experienced several side affects, the most problematic being insomnia. I did not link the problems I experienced to the drug, but to the infection. Approx. 1 week after starting on Bactrim, my doctors office called and said they found other bacteria in my culture and switched me to Amoxicillin. When I finished the amoxicillin (with no pereceptable side affects) I was to start taking the Bactrim again. That was last night.

I could not sleep (insomnia), my heart was racing, I was visibly shaking, had a tremendous headache, have a really bad taste in my mouth, and awoke in the morning with a fever of 100 degrees. I called the doctor and asked to be switched to another antibiotic if necessary, and I told the nurse that I was not going to take any more of the Bactrim.

The doctor called me back and told me that he did not feel it was necessary to continue with an antibiotic treatment now, that the infection was gone. I was relieved that I did not have to continue any other drug. It's been 22.5 hours since I took the Bactrim and I am beginning to feel normal again.

It would appear to me that anyone, prior to taking any medication, should do some research on the drug perscribed. This would go beyond the sheet you get from the pharmacist. Many of the symptoms described by your readers are not listed on the sheet I got from the pharmacy.

Thanks for caring and putting together your website.

Bill S. Cincinnati, OH


Hello Mr.Deer,

I have suffered from u.t.i's since I was a little girl, I am now 25 and get them about twice a month. After reading your website and discovering than all the drugs mentioned as dangers, which I have taken a number of times, has frightened me. I have experienced many symptoms similar to those listed and more. I have asked my doctor to prescibe me other drugs apart from sulphatrim, septra, ect... only to find he is giving me the same drugs with the same ingredients but under a different name. This is scaring me and I am wondering what I can take for these horrible infections without risking my health and/or life?

Amanda S, Toronto, Canada

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