Side effects risks
Bactrim Septra: a secret epidemic

Septra Co-trimoxazole Bactrim

TMP/SMZ side effects reports

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Page 25 of mail to investigative reporter Brian Deer (left) recounting sometimes serious side effects of the antibiotic often known as Bactrim DS, Septra or co-trimoxazole


Bactrim Septra Cotrim Cotrimoxazole Septrin TMP/SMX Sulfatrim TMP-SMZ side effects
SULFONAMIDES: 8 September

Love your site.

This stuff really scared me and my reaction was "mild" This is the email that I sent to all my family and friends. I'm not one to send out "warning emails" but after what I encountered over the past two weeks I think people should know a little more about Sulfonamides.

If you or someone you know/love goes to the doctors and they are diagnosed with an infection, whether it be sinus, ear, UTI, etc., the doctor may ask if you are allergic to Sulfonamides in an antibiotic. If you/they are unsure say "YES!" The side effects are very subtle at first.

You may just think the antibiotic is not working or the infection is getting worse. You could just feel really achy, tired, and run a low grade fever. This is how it was for me. I was diagnosed with a sinus infection, prescribed Septra DS for 10 days.

On my 9th day, I almost ended up in the ER. I broke out in a full body burning rash, chills, fever, aching joints...the works. I called the Acute Care Center (Solantic) and they said it was an allergic reaction and that I should take Benedryl and lots of water. If it was still bad the next day go in for a check up. I burned up the entire night. The next morning I was no better. Upon visiting my PCP, I was chastised for not realizing I was having a reaction to the drug, and then chastised more for not going to the ER the night before and finally chastised for driving myself to the office.

It took more than Benedryl to counteract my reaction to Septra DS. I required a shot of steroids to begin setting things straight, ordered bed rest until the rash faded and a week's dosage of oral steroids. This stuff is bad news if you're allergic to it (and I was told my reaction wasn't as bad as it could have been), so if you are unsure, do not risk it....don't take it.

There is more information on this website: http://briandeer.com/septrin/bactrim-pdr.htm

Sarah J.

BACTRIM: 12 September

Four years ago, my mother took Bactrim for a garden variety uti. She had successfully taken the drug previously, but this time was much different. Within days, she was so ill horrible sores, mottled skin, diarrhea, vomiting, fever - that she had to be taken by ambulance to a nearby 24-hour Urgent Care Facility. From there she worsened so quickly that she was transported to a hospital where she spent the next two and a half weeks in ICU. So many diagnoses were thrown out: AIDS, ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura), TTP (thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura), etc&.

Only by the process of elimination was Bactrim identified as the only potential cause. She endured so many painful procedures, including a non-anesthetized spinal tap, that even four years later it s hard to accept. She was close to total organ failure, vomiting coffee grounds and was placed in a drug-induced coma. At one point, my family was told to begin planning her funeral. Some family members and I left her with our brother while we discussed my mother s death and all the practical things that need to be addressed. Horrible, horrible, horrible. However, when we returned to the hospital less than 2 hours later, our mother was sitting up and talking!) Her recovery included plasmapheresis, which is no small deal. Like dialysis for the platelets. She made an almost complete and entirely miraculous recovery, which to this day baffles us all. Thankfully, she never fully remembered the trauma she endured I guess the mind and body do kind things in order to block it out. But we, her children and sister, will never forget every horror Bactrim put her through.

Amy S.

SEPTRIN: 14 September

Dear Brian,

I happened to chance upon your website while doing a little research into Septrin.

I was given it as a baby, and the Doctors believed that I had a possible allergy to it. For 20 years I have managed to avoid it until a couple of weeks ago. I had a urinary tract infection, and before the Doctor prescribed me medicine, I informed him that I was allergic to Septrin. As he was German, he didn't seem to know the name Septrin, and as I was unaware of any other names for it, I took my first tablet. One hour later I was violently ill and got into bed. The rest of the evening I got progressivly worse and was violently sick a number of times. My body was shaking with convulsions and about 3 hours later I began to get pain through my arms and legs which got to the point of being unbearable, alongside an excrutiating headache.

When the emergency doctor came to see me, I was given an injection of painkillers, which had virtually no effect. The next day I was also feeling very ill, with unbearable pains throughout my muscles and a bad headache. The doctor then said I was probably suffering with flu. The next 5 days I was very tired and exhausted which I put down to the flu.The next week and a half I suffered from terrible nausea and occasional vomiting, with pains in my eyes and an inability to focus properly on anything without feeling incredibly nauseous. It has been about 3 weeks now since i took that single tablet, and the pain in my eyes is still there. I find it hard to believe that it is purely coincidence that others have experienced exactly the same problems since taking Septrin.

Best Regards,

Nicola S.

BACTRIM: 16 September

Hello from the US,

I have been taking generic Bactrim twice daily for 4 days to treat a UTI. My UTI symptoms began to abate after the first dose. Then some other things began that, until today, I didn't associate with the drug. In addition to unusual fatigue, which I associated with having a low grade infection, I've been feeling anxious/depressed for no reason, having trouble sleeping, , and most disturbing is a painful, stiff neck and jaws and headache that won't go away. I occasionally have tension headaches, but the quality of this headache is different. It's like I'm having a constant spasm in the muscles that I can't get rid of. None of the usual analgesics will touch it. I can't lie down, I can't sit up.

I'm so exhausted, and the pain will not stop. I've been to the chiropractor, my massage therapist, and have used yoga and other stretching, but I still can find no relief. I was even beginning to wonder if I had viral meningitis, though I have no fever. I started to be suspicious of a drug reaction this morning when I noted a bitter aftertaste every time I eat or drink. I called my Nurse Practitioner, who of course said to stop the drug, and she advised me to take Benedryl. Now that I've found this website, I will direct her to your information. Thank you for your interest in this subject.

Stephanie R, Idaho.

BACTRIM: 17 September

Hello Brian,

Years ago I had a severe reaction to Bactrim and want to share it.

And this has not been my only bad drug experience. Years later I spent a week in the hospital where I almost died from what I am now convinced was a reaction to Tenex. Since I recently started taking Minizide (very cautiously!) for hypertension, I am out on the web refreshing my knowledge of sulfa type meds and chanced across your site on a google search. One thing I have learned long ago is that there is a whole lot of relevant information that the pharmaceutical industry does not tell us or even want us to find out. But the great thing about the web is this amazing global exchange of potentially life saving information that is changing all of our lives for the better.

The most interesting part to my whole Bactrim experience is the fact that I had taken Septra uneventfully for YEARS (in truly massive quantities) for a chronic urinary tract issue and NEVER had a problem with it. Then, suddenly, between my doctor and my insurance company, I was shifted from Septra to Bactrim. Immediately, with the first pill, I developed a large and extremely painful hive on my back. I called the doctor who instructed me to immediately stop taking the drug and to take benedril to quell the allergic response. This was back in around 1982 and I have never again taken a sulfa based drug since, until now. I have been on the Minizide for a week now with no problems so far. But I have always wondered, because of the way my reaction occurred, whether there is some key difference in the way Septra and Bactrim are manufactured that causes Bactrim to be especially prone to causing adverse reactions. Could Bactrim (and its equivilents) have some key inert ingredient that significantly increases the toxicity of its sulfa component? I will always have my suspicions on that.

Sincerely,

George M, Eureka CA USA.

SEPTRIN: 26 September

Hello Brian,

I have gone through many mails re the drug and it is absolutely appalling.

I was simply trying to know what could be the side effects of it. I am currently living in Singapore and have been on antibiotics for nearly two years, in and out. The cause is a folliculitis located on the upper lip & chin. I have been ordered Septrin (400 mg) in July (after other antibiotics, they have been efficient but the disease returns when the drug is stopped) then again in August and for two weeks at a rate of 4/day.The current prescription is 2/day for a month .

Here, in Singapore it is 'given' by the doctor, for the exact number of days necessary, but without a box and notice. Which means that if you do not ask for any side-effects, you may not know. It so happens that I have completely lost my sense of taste, which is very unpleasant. I was told, when I asked the doctor, that it was indeed due to the drug but also that it would come back. I have obviously stopped taking the drug but after 4 days off it, I cannot see any sign of recovering my sense of taste.

Many thanks

Regards,

Jacques S.

BACTRIM: 30 September

Hello,

I found your website after searching for information regarding the side effects of Bactrim and I thought I would share my story with it.

My 5 year old son took Bactrim for 10 days for a skin infecton. He had no problems while he was taking it and it did cure his infection, but a week after taking it he woke up with a high fever of 103 and a rash out of this world. The following day his rash was awful and it covered his whole body and his fever was hitting 105.8. I took him to our Children's Hospital and they said he had Roseola. The following day his fever was still 105 and higher and he was barely able to talk. I took him to his doctor who thought It looked like Kawasaki Disease. He contacted the Children's Hospital and he had my son admitted.

When we arrived to the hospital my son had all the symptoms of Kawasaki Disease. Fever, rash, blood shot eyes, peeling of skin, red swollen lips,joint pain. After being monitored in the hospital for 3 days his fever broke and Kawasaki was ruled out due to fever is usually 5 days and longer. That is when the talk of Bactrim causing all this came about. I could not believe that a medication I have given my son could cause him to be soooo sick. The hospital said that his Liver was swelling and his Kidneys were starting to react. He did make a full recovery but I wish I had researched Bactrim first before I had given it to him.

I will always do that now.

Thanks for sharing my story,

Cindy V.

BACTRIM: 6 October

Dear Sir,

My boyfriend had a cyst on his breast that needed to be lanced yesterday morning. The ER doctor prescribed Bactrim. My boyfriend explained to him that he had been presribed the very same drug in Mexico just last month and that he developed fatigue and fever after taking it. The doctor refused to believe it was caused by the drug and insisted my boyfriend begin the Bactrim treatment. Against his better judgment (and mine), my boyfriend dutifully filled his prescription. Within 45 minutes of taking ONE pill, he began to experience mild discomfort and chills. Fifteen minutes after the chills started, I was on my cell phone to the ER and driving him to the hosptial. The mild discomfort had turned into complete agony. He was shaking uncontrollably, bent over in pain and his eyeballs had turned bright red. He did not have a fever when we left the house but was admitted with a 99.9 fever that spiked to 102.4 less than 20 minutes later.

We spent 5 hours in the hospital last night. They did blood and urine tests that showed everything in the normal ranges. He was given an IV for fluids and a round of antibiotics. The doctor again refused to believe it was an allergic reaction to the Bactrim, because the syptoms my boyfriend experienced were not typical of a drug allergy. He tried to explain to me that it was a "coincidence" that both times the Bactrim had been taken that the fever that came after was actually caused by the infection from the cyst. The doctor wanted him to go home and continue taking his next dose of Bactrim as if nothing had happened. He even went so far as to say, "Trust me. I know what I'm doing."

We do not trust him and we do not trust Bactrim. I found your site today because I was doing a little research on my own. And the more I'm learning about Bactrim the more I realize that something needs to be done to make the medical profession open their eyes and see this drug for what it really is....a liability to them and a hazzard to us.

Thank you very much for your work.

Jackie L, Fort Lauderdale, FL.

SMZ/TMP: 8 October

I'm a 15 year old who was recently prescribed SMZ/TMP DS 800-160 for a cold I had developed in the past few weeks. I had always had bad luck when it comes to getting sick, so I went to the local doctor just to see what I could do with it. My doctor prescribed SMZ/TMP to me and within a few days, I was beginning to feel better. For a day or two, I stopped taking it because I thought I was better; occasionally coughing, but thinking nothing of it. But my dad insisted that I continue taking it, so I did.

But while I was taking this medication, I seemed to be getting more tired. I was running out of energy really quickly, and that's something that I'm not exactly used to. I was feeling nauseous a lot and I really didn't feel like eating anything at all. At first, I thought it was just my cold turning worse.

Two nights ago, after I had started taking up the medicine again, after a short break, I found that my middle finger had started to get slightly itchy, along with my legs. I thought it was just a mosquito had bitten me, so I didn't exactly think to much about it. I had gone to school as normal, with nothing different, and suddenly during second block, I rolled up my sleeves to see these small rashes developing all across my arms. Next block, I went down to the nurse and she checked me to see where else the rash developed. Turns out they were all over my arms, legs, and the front of my stomach. I left school, and went to the doctor that had originally prescribed me the SMZ/TMP. She believed that the hives were due to me being outside on the football field during marching band practice and that I was allergic to fertilizer. The bumps seemed to have gone down by the time I went to sleep, so again, I took the SMZ/TMP before I went to sleep. As usual. Waking up the next morning, I realized that the hives had doubled, and now they were bigger and redder than they were the previous day. They had even developed on my face, along my back, my thighs, my neck, everywhere.

I went to an allergy person, and I showed them the medication I was on, and she instantly told me the side effects of what SMZ/TMP can do. I decided to look it up on the internet, and came upon your page. It really did shock me to know that so many other people have experienced the same thing I did. But thank you for putting up this page so now that other people can know what this medication can do to you. And seriously, it really is a pain in the butt, seeing how because of SMZ/TMP, I'm unable to go to the most anticipated football game of our high school. So thank you.

Stephanie L.

SMZ/TMP: 12 October

A few months ago I had a bacterial infection in my foot. The bacteria was literally eating through my flesh and it took 2 months and over 5 doctors visits before I finally was prescribed something that worked, Bactrim. Within a day or so I felt as though I had a yeast infection and so I was then given another prescription. So two days after starting the Bactrim and one day after the new prescription I woke in the middle of the night with intense vaginal burning, swollen and blotchy hands, my lips were tingling and burning and swollen, my eyes were sensitive to light and it felt as though sandpaper had been rubbed all over the insides of my mouth and nose.

I also had a horrible lump in my throat that made it feel as though a ball of nails had been lodged next to me left tonsil. I stopped taking both medications, unsure of which was to blame and waited out the next week until the problems went away. At least until I thought they had gone away.

A month later I had another yeast infection that was incredibly hard to treat. It recurred for about three months, being triggered each time I menstruated. I went and got tested for any and all STD's and infections, was diagnosed and prescribed for a stubborn yeast infection and all was well a few days later.

Jump to last night. I have had another UTI building for a few days and I did have it well controlled with cranberry extract and Cystex but I had a sudden flare up and decided to try what was left of my Bactrim. I broke up a pill and literally took 1/3 of a full pill and no more than ten minutes later it felt as though someone had poured lighter fluid between my legs and dropped a match. I didn't sleep at all last night because the waves of pain, itching, swelling and burning were so intense and frequent that at some point I stopped even trying to get any sleep. My mouth has become swollen again and my lips sting and hurt to the touch. Again, the insides of my nose and mouth feel as though they have been scrubbed with sandpaper. I still feel horrible, came into work two hours late and can't sit still in my seat because the pain and discomfort are just too much.

This drug may be a powerful antiobiotic but it is prescribed haphazardly. I have had several of the reactions that suggest the possibility of closing airways not to mention the general intensity and suddeness of my allergic reaction. I don't know if the success rate with this drug is enough justification to keep it on the market but at the very least I hope Doctor's wise up about how and when they prescribe it.

Anna K, Baltimore, Maryland.

BACTRIM: 15 October

Brian, this is a report on the final analysis of what happened to me in October of 2004. I took bactrim for a UTI, after one pill I had chills and fever all night. I thought that it must be the UTI (even though I was hardly ill when I took the first pill). I took a second pill on that Sunday - I was so sick with fever, shaking and chills. Then I thought maybe it's the Bactrim, so I stopped and by Monday I was feeling much better. I called my doctor and he said it must have been the UTI, not the Bactrim causing the trouble. Well, in about two and a half weeks I came down with red spots on my lower legs and eventually they moved to my abdomen and arms. I got prednisone and it helped somewhat (I was on it for three months - not fun) . My doctor thought I might have discoid lupus - he did not relate it to the Bactrim. I developed quarter size scab like areas on my lower legs that hurt and oozed. A biopsy showed leukocytoclastic vasculitis. My blood vessels were bursting from white blood cells invading them. (an allergic reaction). After seeing a rheumatologist and going through all kinds of tests (my ANA was 1:640) - including lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis - it was determined that I had a serum sickness from taking Bactrim, which I must be highly allergic. It took six months to heal the round scab areas on my legs and I now have scars on my legs. If I take sulfa again, I could have an even more severe reaction.

Becky L.

SEPTRA: 18 October

Dear Brian, thanks for your web site. I wish I had read about Septra before my severe reaction. I didn't know I was allergic to any medications. I took Septra, two a day for 30 days. Every time I took it I drank lots of water, as per instructions, but I always felt tired and my appetite was affected. My redness, and welts as well as my legs bloating and itchy have lasted for a week and show little sign of going away. I'm using an antihistamine for the itching. I wish physicians would warn patients of the side effects of this drug.

Jacqueline M.

SEPTRA: 19 October

Add my 27 year old daughter to your list. She was prescribed Septra for a mild acne condition - . Vomited this weekend - thought she had drunk too much - (only 2 glasses of wine); yesterday she woke up covered in itchy welts over most of her body. She went to the office of the dermatologist who had prescribed Septra; he was out - fortunately his office assistant located him and my daughter was given Prednisone to take for the next 10 days. By the time she got to my house a couple of hours later she was frantic. A lot of nursing and luck - 24 hours later she has only a few welts and feels better. We will watch this very carefully. Your website is very interesting.

Stacy K.

SMZ/TMP: 29 October

Hi, I don't know if you're still collecting stories, but I've had a reaction to bactrim and smz/tmp. I did not realize they were related until I saw your website. I had the reaction to bactrim last May and the same reaction just now to the smz/tmp. I was prescribed these drugs for a UTI. I took two doses - one Friday night and the next Saturday morning. By Saturday afternoon my elbows began to hurt, then my shoulders and back and then my neck became so stiff I could barely turn it from left to right. My throat began to ache not sore like a typical sore throat and I feel a tightness in my chest. I suspected the drugs so I did not take any more. It's now Sunday morning and elbow pain is gone, back, throat and shoulder pain is better, I can turn my neck a little more but it's still stiff and chest is still achey. I can't believe they just prescribe this stuff and don't warn you about the possible side effects. The cure is worse than the disease. Thanks for keeping up this website to inform people.

Mary C.

SEPTRIN: 1 November

Fourteen years after my reaction I finally find your website. I was prescribed septrin for recurrent chest infections but within days I had a rash over my chest large round lesions as well as muscle/joint pain and kidney pain. I didn t connect this with the septrin and on returning to my GP was told that I had a kidney infection and so was given another dose of septrin! I have been unwell ever since with drug induced lupus although my GP has labelled my condition as ME/CFS. The symptoms go around my body alternately affecting my kidneys with pain and proteinuria, joints pain and arthritic symptoms, immune system and constant migraine.

Michele C.

SMZ/TMP (VETERINARY): 1 November

My healthy 7 year old black labrador died of liver failure in September, one day after finishing a 10-day regime of SMZ TMP. I don't know if there was any connection, but it seemed strange to me that he could be healthy and active one day, experience liver failure the next day, and then pass away. I was heartbroken and devastated.

Nancy, Iowa, USA.

BACTRIM: 2 November

Dear Mr. Deer:

Our Mother, a vibrant lady, died suddenly on May 16, 2006. On two occasions when she was taking Bactrim, she ended in the emergency room at the hospital. She didn't make it the third time. The US doctors insisted they had no information on side-effects by Bactrim.

She was put to rest overseas in a televised funeral ceremony (she and my Father were known people) and we have just discovered from your website that there are serious side-effects with this dangerous drug.

Barbara K.

TMP/SMZ: 8 November

Hi Brian, I was given TMP SMZ for a bladder infection. Here are my side effects. I felt flushed all the time, "extreme irregular heartbeats", headache, and vomiting. This morning I threw the last 2 out. I agree with other emailers, and will research the drug first, and try a more natural method in the future. I too, have quit the meds early, and wonder when I will have a day without these racing heart beats. Last night, I noticed my skin on my face which is usually clear and smooth, looking ruddy.

I also have terribly chapped lips since taking the meds. So, I am very greatful for your website, because I feel lucky compared to your other emailers. If any of you victims are reading this, I hope you get better soon.

Thanks Brian

Cindy, Iowa.


Side effects of Novo-Trimel, trimethoprim, Septra DS, co-trimoxazole, Septrin, Bactrim, Bactrim DS, Cotrim, sulfamethoxazole, cotrimoxazole, Resprim Forte, Trimeth-Sulfa, TMP-SMX, SMZ-TMP, Trimethox, Sulfatrim, Septran, Ectaprim. Feedback is appreciated, and your experience with this antibiotic may help others