Bactrim - Septra DS - sulfamethoxazole: mail to this site on side-effects (18)

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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  SEPTRIN: 2 September 2005

Hello Brian

I came across your website by accident and have just spent over an hour reading through the e-mails.

In December 1975 I suffered from a severe chest infection which refused to respond to the usual antibiotics. My doctor prescribed Septrin which I had never taken before. After two days of the tablets I noticed, one evening, large bruises on my arms and legs. During that night I woke with a severe nosebleed which would not stop and my mouth and throat were full of blood blisters.

The following morning I went to my surgery. By this time my body was covered with purpura. The doctor took a blood sample and couldn't get the injection site to stop bleeding. Fortunately another doctor in the practice had heard of "Septrin sensitivity" and I was immediately sent to hospital in an ambulance. I was given a four pint blood transfusion, a huge factor B injection and placed on a very high dose of Prednisolone. A bone marrow test showed that although my body was producing platelets the Septrin was killing them off and I was diagnosed as suffering from thrombocytopenia caused by the Septrin.

My parents were told that I was literally a few hours from death when brought into the hospital.

It took until the following July to wean me off the steroids and for my body to function normally again.

Since them I have suffered from asthma - never having suffered before. I also have to take a 20m Losec daily for high acid reflux. Again I never suffered prior to taking Septrin. All of this after taking just 6 tablets!

Thank you for the site.


BACTRIM: 6 September 2005

Here's my story: I was prescribed Bactrim exactly 2 weeks ago, for a one-weekcourse.

Last Thursday night, I broke out in the worst case of hives all over my body. I assumed it to be a laundry detergent allergy, since I had already completed the Bactrim. I should have been suspicious since I had a plum sized bruise on my hip.

When I started taking Bactrim again on Sunday night, I started feeling terribly sick 4 hours after the 1st dose, which included fever, chills, severe nausea. I feared that I was having a severe kidney infection, when what I was actually experiencing was caused by the Bactrim. After the 2nd dose, I started having even larger hives- some as large as 4 inches wide.

Last night (which incidently was my 13th wedding anniversary!!!)as I lay in agony on my couch with some of the worst body aches, chills, and physical discomfort I can remember, I did wonder, " Am I going to die?" I spent all of Sunday night and all day Monday and Monday night drinking water constantly so I wouldn't get dehydrated, and telling myself, "Don't throw up, just breathe... you don't want to end up in the ER." Last night, I kept waking up, jerking, and for some reason, shaking my hands out. Thank goodness I have stopped taking the Bactrim.

Today, my dr confirmed I am definitely allergic to Bactrim. Though I still have a lingering headache and fatigue, I feel like I have had an epiphany after finding this website. You see, thirteen years ago, for my very first UTI, I was prescribed Bactrim. Three weeks later, I was hospitalized for 10 (TEN!!!) days in a Kaiser HMO, which in HMO days means you are REALLY sick. I don'tremembera lot about that time because the first seven days of that hospitalization, the dr's were just puzzled why I was so sick. I don't remember much about that time at all, so I can't detail all the symptoms I had then. But as I read these accounts I am remembering more and more of the symptoms I had, such as as the purpura all over my body. And everyone remembers that my eyes became completely blood red, and remained so for several weeks after I was discharged.

What I find amazing is that I was never told that I was having a sulfa reaction back then. Since then, I have always been afraid of getting that sick again. Now I understand how much of my illness was actually due to the medication. Last night, I did wonder if I would die.

Tonight, I feel like a weight I have been carrying for 13 years has been lifted, and my personal mystery has been solved.


SMZ/TMP: 2 October 2005

I went into the ER because I was having flank pain which I thought was associated with a preexisting condition. Sometimes it is painful when the cysts enlarge, sometimes they bleed. Anyway I was in excruciating pain.

So I get there and the doc says I have a "bladder infection or a UTI" and she prescribes me SMZ/TMP.

Well I go home and I take it and it makes me very very nauseous. I was also told I could take over the counter pain medicines for my pain. I was quite frightened since I have an underlying disease and felt worse. I felt severely nauseous. I thought it best to go back to the ER.

So I went to a different one and my kidneys started to fail. It was awful. The doctors hydrated me and called the other hospital and gave me another drip with an antibiotic in it. Well my creatinine wasnt going down so they stopped the antibiotic and eventually my creatinine returned to near normal. I also had to be on 4 to 5 liters of oxygen because I couldnt breathe. The only other time I had to be on oxygen was when my lung collapsed (also related to the pre exisiting disease).

A few months later I had to go on oxygen. I thought it was related to this very rare lung disease that I have. Except that I am being followed by the NIH and the doctor/scientist there said he has never seen the disease progress that rapidly ( he has the largest number of patients in the country with this disease) and he believes it was from this medicine. He said somtimes an antibiotic will make you go into respiratory failure. I see him twice a year (this is my 5th year going) and I just saw him the first week of September. So now he is asking me to get the records from both hospitals so he can look into it.

It is very sad for me because I have a progressive disease that effects my lungs and kidneys. I think it shaved a few years off of my life because I wouldnt have had to go on Oxygen so quickly. The doctor said "it was some concern to him because my lung function dropped significantly in the last year". Just one month prior to being ill, I was doing all my errands, Christmas shopping and I even threw a Christmas/birthday party. 6 Months later I am on oxygen.

Elizabeth M.


BACTRIM: 2 October 2005

wow..i should've listened to my own instincts to stick to natural methods of healing...took it instead of colloidal silver for a bladder infection. BIG mistake. started out with a fever of something over 103. Joint and muscle pain next...totally awful. Pain so bad I couldn't sleep for days. Then came the body flush. Head to toe. I finally listened to my husband and researched it...of course finding every symptom I was experiencing. I never thought I could be allergic...this was poison to my system.

I'm still feeling off after a week away from it. I thank God for all the methods that are natural and creatively and wonderfully made.

BACTRIM: 5 October 2005

Dear Brian,

Thankyou so much for your website. I, like so many others, found you website while looking up symptoms of Bactrim. I was prescribed SMZ/TMP DS 800-160 (twice a day for 10 days) to treat a sinus infection that I was having trouble getting rid of. I had used Cepholexin before, but it didn't quite get rid of it so it came right back. I took my first bactrim pill in the morning and shortly after went to go to bed (I work 3rd shift.) As I was trying to fall asleep I became restless and noticed that my heart was beating much harder and faster than usual. I didn't think too much of it and after a few hours finally fell asleep and awoke about 3 hours later. Other than that I felt fine until about 2:00am while I was at work. I had a sudden onset of nausea and was sure that I would vomit. Later in the night I began to feel nervous and shaky. I was having trouble concentrating and my heart beat was getting even faster and harder. I came home and waited for my boyfriend to get home. I didn't know what was wrong with me. Shortly after he got home I had a full blown panic attack, and it was very scary. I tried to eat to see if that would help anything, but the second I got near food I felt as if I would throw up. At this point I was suspecting the bactrim, but I took my next dosage anyway. Shortly after I could feel yet another panic attack coming on. My heart began beating uncontrollably, and finally my boyfriend was able to calm me down enough to try to go to sleep. Once again it took hours and then I only slept for about 4 hours before waking up. When I woke up I felt very weak and dizzy and could not focus or concentrate on anything. My heart was beating like crazy again and my legs felt like rubber when I tried to walk. My hands were shaking uncontrollably, and I could not shake the strong feelings of anxiety and depression. This was around the time that I was supposed to take my next dose, but by this point I was suspecting the bactrim. That's when I decided to look up side effects and stumbled upon your site. The only side effects listed with the prescription were nausea, loss of appetite, and sunburn. At this point I decided that there was no way that I could continue taking this medication. I will be calling my doctor tomorrow to find a new antibiotic to put me on. I was supposed to take 20 pills in all and I wasn't even able to make it past 3.

Laura F.

SMZ/TMP: 6 October 2005

Hello Brian,

I've just stumbled across your website. Great source of information. I was appalled at what I read. I was prescribed the above generic version of Bactrim DS because of cystitis. My story is not as shocking as those of other people. Nevertheless, I got to experience the side effects of the drug. My thing was nausea. I took the drug starting this past Monday every day, twice a day. Ever since then I've been feeling nauseated, like I am about to vomit. I did vomit last night. I went to the nurse practitioner and she told me that I could stop them, since I've already taken it 3 days. My last dosage was yesterday, Oct.5, but I still feel nauseated. I want to eat, but when I think of food, I feel bad at my stomach. I can't believe I was supposed to take them for 10 days, twice a day. I don't even want to think about all that.

Thank you for your site,

Svetlana G, Memphis TN


Hi Brian,

My son has been on this since about 4 months of age for bladder reflux. As his teeth are growing in, I’ve noticed quite substantial gray colouring on pretty much all of them—he is 10 months and has 8 teeth. I’ve read about others on your site that had similar experiences. I’m scared to death my child’s teeth are all in jeopardy.

Thank you,

Debbie D.

BACTRIM: 10 October 2005

I was just reading about Bactrim because on Saturday I was released from a hospital here in California due to an allergic reaction I had to Sulfa.., a key ingredient in Bactrim. My first symptoms were welts (sp?) caused from hives all over my body, even on the bottom of my feet. Since that afternoon, I have had trouble breathing and swallowing, and blurred vision. I was told this was a symptom caused by the allergy and that it should go away in about two weeks or less. This remains to be seen over the course of time. The most startling information found on your website is how long this drug has been prescribed. From other websites, I have noticed that 1/3 of all users develop some kind of reaction to this drug. I don t even understand why they prescribe it knowing the adverse affects it has on its users.



BACTRIM DS: 17 October 2005

Hi I was given ds bactrim for acne ( my sister has been on it for 2 years with now great skin) After 10 days of using it I had real bad joint pain. So I called my dermatologist. She said thats really not a symptom and advised me to stop taking it for 2 weeks and then try it again to see id it really is the bactrim or something else. After 2 days off I felt better. I went and talked with a pharmasist and they said the same thing" That's not a reaction from bactrim" So 2 weeks later I was desperate to clear my acne ( I mean I'm a 33 year old woman, that's enough acne, you'll try anything) Within 15 minutes of taking one pill I started to have pin prickles on my skin & lips. I just thought well this is strange. So I laid down for a little. When I woke my eyes were yellow, I was starting to shake and talk jittery. Then not more that an hour later things got real bad. I was shaking uncontrolably ( much like I did in childbirth) I had a fever that showed on my face, I felt like I wasn't really there, all my joint were 10 times worse than the first time. My arms & legs were numb. I couldnt close my fists. The back of my lung area hurt when breathing. By the next day ( all day in bed) my eyes were yellow & red, swollen, my lips were swollen, all my joint were in such pain. The numbness continued and headaches. This was aweful and I feel like I was poisoned. I don't want anyone to go through this. And for the medical field to tell me this does'nt happen with Bactrim! Now I have been reading posts of others, and found out there is a possiblity of severe liver damage and white blood cells. I feel very scared!

Barbie S.

BACTRIM: 20 October 2005


I am very fortunate to have found your site. It started about 6 days ago& I developed a fever (never rising above 102), crippling joint aches, pain in my lower back by my kidneys, confusion, pain in my lungs/chest (the feeling is similar to discomfort from inhaling very cold air) and severe fatigue, which kept me confined to my bed for 6 days! By the way I am not the type of person who enjoys lying around and being idle, but I could not muster the strength to get out of bed. Still sick and worsening symptoms I went to the emergency room and again my symptoms were excused for a viral infection . My family began doing some research on this medication prompting me to stop taking the Bactrim and within 24 hours I was beginning to feel better. Now pushing as much fluid in my body as possible to flush this all out of my system. I cannot understand how 2 separate physicians could miss this!

Thank you again for having this info available!


SULFA/TRIMETH: 21 October 2005

I've taken a lot of Sulfa/Trimeth after my liver transplant three years ago. I haven't had any problems with it as opposed to the prednisone/tacrolimus I've taken. I was never been given any special precautions regarding this drug. I found your article interesting.

John D.

BACTRIM: 23 October 2005

I'm writing from Hickory, North Carolina, USA. I was recently prescribed Bactrim for a urinary tract infection by a Nurse Practioner in my Women's clinic. Two days after beginning the anti-biotic I started to itch on my upper torso. The itching intensified over the next few days and by day five I had a severe rash on my chest, neck, and back; and it has continued to spread to the rest of my body.

This is no minor rash ... it's horrendous: bright red welts and blisters, and the itch is unbearable. A person could go insane with a rash like this, I literally wanted to crawl out of my skin!

Naturally, I wanted to find-out what was known about Bactrim/Septra and searched the Internet for information. I can see that this drugs use may be warrantted in extreme cases, as a last option. In my situation, it was the drug of first choice, prescribed by a nurse practiioner in my physicians office; and I am outraged by it! It has caused me days of agony coping with this extreme rash.

In addition to sufferring for days, I feel angry about a couple of things. One being, this drug - with it's well-known side-effects - was prescribed as a drug of first choice. The second one being it was prescribed by a nurse practitioner; I know that NP's can be an asset to medicine. However, they do not have the extensive training of a medical doctor and it seems wrong that they are, essentially, practicing medicine without a medical doctor degree.

Kathy G.

BACTRIM DS: 23 October 2005

Hi Brian,

I found your website while looking up info on Bactrim. I just finished a 5 day course of the DS which was prescribed for me by an ER doctor for a kidney infection. I thought I was going insane when I was taking the drug. I had so many side effects—but I didn’t know if they were from the infection, or coming down with the flu, or what.

I had achy joints, especially my knees—I’m in my 20’s so it’s kind of early for arthritis. And my hands were just throbbing—again, I thought it was some kind of arthritis or something I’d done that caused it.

I also had incredibly painful headaches that seemed to focus directly behind my eyes. It was as though there was so much pain and pressure in my head, it felt as though my eyes were going to pop right out.

The Bactrim made me unbelievably tired. All I wanted to do was sleep. I have huge dark circles around my eyes and look like a raccoon…I haven’t really slept since going on the Bactrim because it makes me sick in the middle of the night and restless…even though I’m overwhelmed with this urge to sleep and feel completely exhausted.

I took my last pill yesterday and became incredibly sick a couple of hours later. I was extremely nauseous and light-headed. And then the diarrhea started as well. I called two pharmacies and asked if this was normal, and one said it was and to take an antacid (which the literature that came with the pills said not to do), and the other one said it wasn’t the pills and that I must be coming down with the flu.

I was unbelievably sick, and the sleepiness was overwhelming at that point. I was extremely thankful that my mom was around to take care of me. About 5 hours after I took that last pill, the nausea started to lessen. I wasn’t able to really eat much until a day later though as my stomach was still quite upset.

I’ve been on other antibiotics before and realize that they do tend to make me nauseous and sicker as I come close to finishing the prescription. However the Bactim came with a host of side effects that no one disclosed to me and I wasn’t aware of.

Denise, Manhattan, US.

BACTRIM: 1 November 2005

In 1996 I was put on a 14 day course of Bactrim by my dermatologist for a skin infection. After 7 days I began experiencing symptoms including a dry patchy rash on the inside of my knees and elbows and on my face around the hairline, my eyes were sensitive to light, and joint pain, but no hives. I asked the doctor at that time if it could be a drug reaction/allergy and was told no because I had been on the medication for some time, if it was an allergy it would have been more immediate, and besides I didn't have hives. The doctor thought it might be measles. I was tested to check what my measles titer was since I had had the vaccine. The results were fine. Over the next 2 days I developed cyclic (every 4 hours) fever up to 104 degrees, red lobster-like itchy thighs, severe joint pain, severe headache (focused behind my eyes), mental confusion, severe fatigue and finally purpura.

I worked in a hospital labratory and the Pathologists there got me directly to a Hematologist. I immediately had routine blood work done and was also tested for Lupus (due to family history). I had a Bone marrow exam done. I had virtually no platelets, and required a platelet transfusion. I felt like I was on death's doorstep. The Bactrim was finally stopped. I was hospitalized for 5 days and it took several weeks before I truly felt back to my old self.

Thank you for providing a site to share our Bactrim horror stories. I hope people will realize that drug allergies can happen at any point when taking certain drugs, and that the symptoms can include more than just hives and wheezing.


TRIMOXAZOLE: 14 November 2005

Hi Brian,

I came across your web site after my father got deathly ill from taking trimoxazole for a staph infection. He has always been of near perfect health, no medications or health problems at 71.

He first came down with a rash all over his body. Then purple blood marks all over his lower legs. Then fevers and chills for days on end. My Dad who has been healthy thought he must have caught a flu bug. But it just kept on. He was having high fevers of 102 plus then chills then severe itching. He went to the emergency room where they admitted him for 2 days. Could not really find anything so he went home only to get deathly ill again a week later with the same symptoms. Again we went to the emergency where he was again admitted this time being much sicker. His blood platelets were 37. The next day they were 11, then 4. They gave him a several blood transfusions without any results in his count going up. They then did a cat scan of his chest and his lymph nodes were "hot". The Doctors wanted to do a chest lymph biopsy but because of his platelets they could not. The Doctors were not sure what was up. They did a bone marrow biopsy which we feared would be a blood or bone cancer. It came back negative. His platelets were still low even though he had been getting blood transfusions of blood platelets. He went to the hospital Saturday, had fever and chills till the next Friday when they decided his spleen was the problem with the platelets being eaten up. They removed his very enlarged spleen.

Still giving him lots of blood platelets. He still had the rash which was like hives all over his body head to toes. They also had him on very high dosages of prednisone. By removing his spleen and giving him platelets his platelet count finally went up 2 and half weeks later to 138. He left the hospital 2 1/2 week later, still not well but a bit better. He is completely worn out and now his rash is returning along with fever and chills. He is being checked by a blood specialist and his platelets have improved but he is far from well. This all happen October 2005.

What I am wondering as probably many have if what can he do to get better. I am going to try a homeopathic and see if that can help his immune system which seems to be shot. My sister found your web site by looking up the adverse effects of the drug he had taken before this all started. My heart goes out to the people who did not have a good outcome, for I know we were close to it being far worst. I would say the Doctors at the hospital stayed his life. I only hope he will recover fully. Any info you could pass my way would be most appreciated. I am surprised by how many people have been effected by this drug and it is still prescribed. It has really made me a ware of what I take and what family members take.

Jamie, San Clemente, Ca

SEPTRA DS: 17 November 2005

Hi, I found your website looking for symptoms of the medication Septra DS online. I am at work and am afraid I might have an accident on my way home because of the dizziness I have had all day .I have been on Septra 2 days now for a vaginal infection, got a bit dizzy last night but today is really bad. I already suffer from axiety and hairloss and after reading you re page am freaking out. I would call my doc and ask for another prescription but I just paid $93.00 dollars for this one and don t get paid for 2 weeks. Do you think it is it dangerous to take it for the remaining 8 days, I read a lot of emails but was too dizzy to keep reading, a lot of them were long term users of this drug. I need to cure my infection because I have a lot of abdominal pain but I am 29 with 3 kids and don t want to risk my life!

Jasmine P

RESPRIM FORTE: 18 November 2005

I was subscribed Resprim Forte in May this year. The pharmacist gave me advice on eating beforehand and informed me about excessive exposure to sunlight etc.

I ate a large roll before taking 1 tablet. Within hour I started to itch. hour later or so, I was lying in my bed, dizzy, pounding head, sweating profusely, my heart going a million miles an hour. I truly thought I was going to die. I was too weak and ill to even pick up the phone to call an ambulance, which is what I would have done, if able. After an hour or so, I was able to get out of bed, in an extremely weak state and get a glass of water. For the rest of the afternoon and evening, I was in what felt like a fatigued state, as though I was getting over being hit with a sledgehammer. The next day, I was still slightly affected. Needless to say, the other 9 tablets in the packet have remained in the box.

I am a 50 year old male, 90 kgs and take 4mg Amaryl tablets for diabetes. I am generally in good health. I have an allergy to penicillin. I have not taken penicillin for 20 years but when I did, it caused me to itch to the point where I needed an injection to suppress it. I have previously taken sulphur based antibiotics without any side effects.

I hope this adds to your stories on Resprim Forte (or Bactrim as it is also known in Australia).


Mark E, Adelaide, South Australia

BACTRIM: 21 November 2005

Dear Brian

I was prescribed Bactrim by my MD for a sinus infection. She asked if I was alergic to sulfer and I didn't know. She prescribed the Bactrim and said if I had a reaction she would simply switch antibiotics . . well, I had a reaction.

After the first pill i noticed some swelling and heaviness in my penis. Soon after the second dose my penis began itch and felt "hot," almost on fire. Within a day, my penis swelled horribly with red and purple welts along the shaft and the head. The welts soon erupted into lesions on the shaft and dark purple blotches appeard on the head, which eventually started to bleed. The skin is so sensitive I cannot wear anything without pain. I cannot get an erection without serious pain and sex is out of the question. I have taken photos which tell the whole story and have no trouble allowing them to be published if it helps get this horrible drug exposed and off the market . . . I hope I return to normal. I am seeing my urologist tomorrow. Wish me luck

Lou C

TRIMETH: 21 November 2005

I've taken a lot of Sulfa/Trimeth after my liver transplant three years ago. I haven't had any problems with it as opposed to the prednisone/tacrolimus I've taken. I was never been given any special precautions regarding this drug. I found your article interesting.

John D

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