Mail to this site on Septra - Bactrim - trimethoprim - Septrin side effects (38)

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: 2 April 2011

Dear Brian,

I was doing some research on the Internet and I came across your articles concerning Bactrim and Sulfatrim. My father died of an allergic reaction to sulfatrim in 1998 at age 83. He took very few medications but was prescribed this medication for a urinary track infection. I still have the bottle with two pills left in it. The prescription was filled for 10 pills with directions to take two a day. He had been complaining that the pills were hard to swallow. My mother called the doctor and was told he should break the pills in half but to continue taking them. What was actually happening was a swelling of his throat. My mother found him on the floor a few hours later.

The paramedics asked if he had been stung by a bee because they had trouble doing the tracheotomy due to the swollen throat. He died later in the hospital. When I arrived in town that evening and learned that he had been taking sulfatrim I couldn't believe it. I had been prescribed bactrim for a sinus infection and I had an allergic reaction. I even looked the drug up in the Merck Manual and read that "this drug should not be prescribed to the elderly". This has bothered me all these years. I wanted my mother to report it so this wouldn't happen to anyone else. Since that time I have met many many people who have had allergic reactions to this drug but they didn't die; they just stopped taking it.

Barbara S, Mt Pleasant, SC.

BACTRIM: 7 April 2011

Hi Brian

I went to my doctor for a sore throat and bad cough. He told me that I had strep throat, middle ear infection and bronchitis and he gave me a prescription which was (Bactrim) Apo-Sulfatrim DS 800/160mg. The pharmacist went over some of the issues with taking this drug which is routine if you have never taken the drug. I am diabetic and 63 years old and from the first dose of the medication I started to feel differently. Within two days of taking this medication I began to experience severe back pains and loss of appetite and generally feeling like I was in a fog and things seemed out of place for me, kind of like I was displaced.

I went on a business trip on day three of taking this drug and last evening was the worst night of my life. I was not able to sleep at all which is NOT normal for me because if I see a pillow, I am already asleep. I tossed and turned all night long and was hallucinating all night long with a reoccurring dream. My chest was heaving, my breathing was very rapid and when I briefly fell asleep, I felt like I was drowning. This went on all night long and this morning I decided to search the Internet for the side effects of this drug.

I was shocked to hear of so many people who were experiencing some of the same symptoms that I was and some of the reactions to ingesting this medication. I have has allergic reactions to medications over the years so I know some of the problems when you combine other medications. Some medications have their strength altered or changed if you take them with grapefruit (juice or otherwise) or even a variety of mixed juice that may contain grapefruit.

Why is this drug still on the market? There must be other drugs that are just as effective as Bactrim (maybe more expensive than Bactrim) but without these side effects. I believe that doctors and pharmacists need to collaborate much more than they do so they can be more informed of the possible dangers of prescription medications. Not too many pharmacists will disagree with a Dr. s prescription because that is NOT their function in life and that is rather sad.

Thank you for allowing me to post my story and thank you for bringing this to the attention of the concerned public.

Wayne W.

BACTRIM: 10 April 2011


I came across your web site as a result of researching the drug Bactrim.  A close friend just lost her 16 year old son who was prescribed this drug as a result of a mrsa skin infection.  We do not know whether the Bactrim DS had anything to do with it, but after taking the drug for about 3 days he developed flu like symptoms, a temperature, and general feelings of malaise and dizziness.  He was taken to the Doctor 7 days after he began the drug (and the day before he died) and was not given anything else but was told he had a viral infection.  He did not develop SJ syndrome which is a known allergic reaction, but at this point nearly 5 months after his death the coroner still has not been able to determine a cause of death in spite of extensive testing.  I was hoping you had information you could email me about any bactrim deaths and/or autopsy findings since we have been unable to find anything here in the states other than the anecdotal comments on your web site.

Len P.

SEPTRIN: 27 April 2011

Dear Brian Deer

I have just discovered your website about the harmful effects of Septrin and have been very interested to read it. We discovered about 4 years ago that my daughter (now 17) has a compromised immune system (very low T cells)....and she was proscribed a dose of 2 x 400/80 Co- trimoxazole (ie 400mg sulfamethoxazole and 80mg trimethoprim) on two consecutive days a week to prop her immune system up. She was ostensibly very healthy and had not suffered much illness at all as a child but it was thought she should have these just in case. Though very anti antibiotics as a rule, I felt we had no option but to follow this advice (from immunologists at Great Ormond Street).

However, she has over the past four years become increasingly anxious and now regularly suffers from panic attacks (or, more correctly, the fear of having them)... This is obviously having a very negative impact on her (and family) life, as she feels unable to be alone at any point. We have seen various psychotherapists/councillors/ hypnotherapists/doctors and, this morning, were proscribed Prozac by our family doctor in an attempt to help her get on top of this problem. This was obviously a last resort and one I was very loath that she should follow, so I have spent the day online trying to find yet another alternative solution. And then I found your website. Until today - stupidly - I had never considered a link between her state of mind and the seemingly lose dose of Septrin she takes weekly.... but now I am wondering if there very well might be a connection.

With all good wishes

Rebecca T.

Sulfameth: 29 May 2011

Hi Brian.
I ran across your article on sulfameth side effects and thought I would share my experience.  I was treated for a staph infection with sulfameth and cipro for two weeks. I've taken cipro before and never had a bad reaction to the drug but this was my first time on sulfameth.  After two weeks the skin infection was almost healed so the doc put me on two more weeks of sulfameth and bactrim and took me off the cipro. Within 3 days of the second treatment I began having trouble breathing. Two days later I broke out in a bumpy rash and had fever, night sweats, lips darkened and my urine was like syrup. The dr took me off the sulfameth and told me to take a antihistamine. The symptoms got progressively worst. I went to the ER three times. I was put on all kinds of antihistamines. My body was in revolt. I had the hiccups for a week after being on a steroid. I had hives. Total disaster.

After two weeks finally the symptoms eased up. The hives disappeared. My skin started to peel but the doc said that is a good thing because my normal skin will grow back. I was very itchy and now I am developing pimple looking bumps on my scal, neck, chest and back. Even had one in my ear.

That medication is absolutely the most dangerous drug out there. I'm thinking about hiring an attorney. And reading on the net there are many people who had severe reaction to sulfa drugs.
Just wanted to share my experience with you.

Dwight C.

BACTRIM: 13 June 2011

I began Bactrim for a suspected urinary tract infection. First I lost my appetite, then I started to experience side effects that were consistent with liver failure. But at first I wasn't alarmed but as I got sicker I realized that my liver was at stake and I stopped the Bactrim. Most people don't understand that drugs can kill. Two days later and I am still suffering but not as badly. Bactrim is only prescribed because it is cheap. I live in America and I am poor and cannot afford high priced drugs but I know costs go way down when one is dead.

Marc F.

SEPTRA: 19 June 2011

First of all, I would like to thank you for helping me through my traumatic event that I'm just getting over. 

About a month ago, a was stung by an insect on my hand and the next day, it became so swollen that I could barely move it. I went to an urgent care and was diagnosed with cellulitis and was given Septra , 2 pills twice a day, just in case of an infection.  The day I took those pills, I had a huge head ache, eye pain and body aches. I figured that I did have an infection and my body was just fighting it. That night, I felt so bad, I had my husband take me to ER.  I had a fever of 103, so they gave me an IV and did blood work. After 5 hrs, they said I was just fighting an infection and to rest the next day.

I continued the meds and suffered the next day in bed. When I was able to, I would wake up and do some research on the Internet on my condition. This is when I thought that there could be a possibility that I could be having a drug reaction.  My symptoms were: migraine, eye pain, body and extreme joint pain, high fevers, feeling that I was dying.

The next day, I called my trusted family doctor and he wanted to see me right away. All of this was going on during the weekend, so I was unable to see her in the first place. By that time, the swelling had gone down almost all the way but I was still feeling awful. She said it was unlikely that it could be an allergic reaction and to just take 1 pill instead of 2.   When I got home, I held off from taking the pill until the last min.  to bed. I was feeling better........ But, as soon I took it, I felt deathly sick again. That just confirmed it. The next morning, I called my doc to tell her I'm taking myself off.  For two days after, I was still sick, but without a head ache and fever. The last day, all I felt was nausea and had a nasty taste in my mouth, but I felt like I was getting another chance with life.  It was really that bad, and I'm a tuff cookie.

I just wonder if my family doctor and the doctors I saw are aware of this terrible drug and playing dumb...  I can't believe I went through all that unnecessary pain. Im fortunate to be able to take it as a learning experience, but for those less fortunate, something needs to be done about this.  Thank you again.  I don't know how bad things would have gone if it wasn't for this website.

TRIMETHOPRIM: 25 June 2011

This is such a useful website.  I finished a three day dose of Trimethoprim last night, and since I began taking it was experiencing intense itchiness on my legs, and a little on my arms too.  I also have bruising all the way down my left thigh.  I had a feeling this might all be down to the drug, so I googled various things and came across your page.

I'm still feeling itchy a day after stopping it, and keep feeling hot and feverish, this comes and goes.  I am most worried about the bruising, which I've read can be the first sign of some serious reactions, and could be due to changes in the blood or organ functions.

BACTRIM DS: 1 July 2011

Hello Mr. Deer;

I was put on this drug 3 weeks ago (after having been on Keflex for a month) to fight a cellulitis infection of my left leg following surgery (knee replacement). The surgeon wanted me to continue taking this drug for a month, but after I noticed a definite decrease in my urine output together with blood pressure dropping below normal, I started scouring the net for information and found your web site posting on Bactrim. Thank you for that information! I am discontinuing its use starting tomorrow, and I have an appointment in 5 days to see my General Practitioner ("regular" doctor) with the hope that she can find a way to deal with what is left of the cellulitis infection and bring my blood pressure back to normal range. I never would have known that this drug is so severely restricted in the UK had it not been for your article, of course here in the US"anything goes" for as long as the drug companies can get away with it.


Curtis N.



I just got out of the hospital after almost dying from meningitis after taking Bactrim for an infection.  I had a cut on my arm that turned into MRSA, so they decided to treat it with Bactrim. 20 minutes after taking the first dose I was convulsing and on my way to the ER.  I was not conscious the first several days when they were trying to figure out what was wrong with me, but they performed every test they could think of and told my family that I had a 50/50 shot of surviving whatever this was.

In the end the doctors agreed that it was Bactrim Induced Aseptic Meningitis.  This is supposedly a rare condition, but after searching the web I am finding otherwise. People need to be aware of the risks of Bactrim and other sulfa antibiotics.

Alison J.

SEPTRIN: 25 July 2011

Dear Brian,

I have just come across your website with relation to Septrin.

I am now nearly 38 and was prescribed Septrin when I was 17 for bronchitis. I took the first two doses and on the second morning of treatment had a reaction and started vomitting. I rang my GP and she told to stop taking it and to inform any future doctors that I was allergic to Septrin. I really haven't though about this for quite a long time. I started severe diarrhoea, itchy feet, hives a short while after that was so bad I was sent to an infectious diseases clinic to be tested for Salmonella - this proved negative. But the diarrhoea continued and continued and got to the point where I could be sitting and eating a meal and would have to leave the table - my father was convinced I was a really bad bulimic (not clinically bad but really bad at doing it!).

Anyway, I went to college and got a job on a fishfarm on the west coast of Ireland working in a disease diagnostics lab, part of my job was to organise the doses of antibiotics to be mixed in the salmon feed. One of the antibiotics was Sulphatrim. I had no reaction then. However within six months of leaving the job the severe diarrhoea was back.

These symptoms became worse and worse to the point where I was having mucous and then some blood in the diarrhoea. I was sent for a colonoscopy to see what the problem was. I had always informed any medical person about my allergy to Septrin. I was diagnosed with nearly 99% sure its Ulcerative Colitis and was prescribed Dipentum (Olasalazine) and my symptoms got worse so I stopped taking them and I got better. But my consultant told me I was a 'stupid wee girl' for not taking the medication. I had persistent vaginal swelling for nearly two years and actually used to wee pus and blood. But nothing ever turned up infection wise when I went to my GP. I had a raging persistent thirst and was told I had a form of diabetes. Raging migraines.

Anyway I went for a second colonoscopy because my sister was worried that I was 'so ill'. Same consultant and he changed my diagnosis to nearly 99% sure Crohn's Disease and my prescription to Salazapyrin (Sulphasalazine) again knowing about the Septrin etc etc. I came off it again very shortly after so my life has been an up and down battle for fourteen years. I get an antibiotic my bowel goes bad I go on Salazapyrin and steroids for a bit and then i start to feel really really bad and realise how much better I feel without the medication and come off it again. I didn't know until a couple of months ago that you could have an allergic reaction to Salazapyrin!! But since then I've become highly educated.

Anne-Marie D.

BACTRIM HORROR: 26 July 2011

Greetings Brian!

I am blessed and grateful to still be alive after ingesting one 800 mg Bactrim generic tablet prescribed for a UTI that may never had existed. I went to ER at a local private hospital presenting dysuria symptoms. I was told that my urine sample was clear of any infection and was to be visited by a physician that would procede with a gynecological exam- pap smear. Minutes later another doctor came in checked for pressure and pain by feeling my stomach and lower pelvis. I explained that I felt pain and pressure in the area that he pointed out as the location of my bladder. I stated to the doctor that a nurse explained that the urine sample was clean. He insisted that eventually it would show signs of a UTI later and prescribed Bactrim 800 mg twice a day for one week.

I took one tablet and within fifteen minutes my vaginal and anal area began to burn and itch. In three hours my throat began swelling. Now four days later I have a blister on my neck, sore throat, chaffing and swollen labia and perineal area, swollen lips, tongue with rawness. My eyes were swollen too pink and red and itchy. The doctor refused to write a new script and when I returned to ER I was told to keep taking them with Benadryl. (I guess "FOOL" is written on my head.) 

Had I known that this site was available I would have never taken it or purchased this 12 dollar "lethal weapon". This needs to be taken off the market permmanently. It is DEADLY!

SMZ/TMP: 7 August 2011

Mr. Deer,

Hello my name is Shawn Foreman. I am 29 & I live in Goldsboro, North Carolina. I have read this page about septra or whatever you want to call it, I have also scanned over some of the emails on the page. And as a patient who is currently taking the drug & has been for about a week now - with no adverse effects - I have to conclude that this is just like any other drug. Some people can take it and some people can't because they're allergic or they're body can't process the chemicals for whatever reason.

I myself was prescribed Flomax 2 weeks ago and only took it twice because of the way it made me feel. But this is not the doctor nor the pharmaceutical company's fault because there is no way to tell every outcome ever possible on every drug on every person. Yes, there is a lot of money in pharmaceuticals but I don't think any of them own a crystal ball or magic wand. This is just my view on the topic, thank you for your time.

BACTRIM: 13 August 2011

Hi Mr. Deer-

Thanks so much for compiling these. These stories are far too common and if it stays on the market at all, this drug should be reserved as a last resort and people should be warned.

I was prescribed Bactrim for a sinus infection, which was secondary to a case of swine flu, in March 2011. I had been sick for several weeks and taking Bactrim for 4 or 5 days when my fever shot up, I had difficulty breathing (I needed sudafed to sleep), and I felt mentally disoriented and physically awful and could not eat or stay hydrated. I was also developing more and more bumps and red patches all over my body, some of which have left scars.

I went to a hospital clinic and my blood pressure was dangerously low, so I was put on an IV. Luckily the doctor was familiar with such drug reactions and was able to diagnose it quickly. My liver levels were also off.

It took weeks, close to 2 months, to get back to feeling 'normal.' Luckily my liver re-test was OK, but I worry there was damage that will haunt me later in life. As I said, I still have some scarring and the ordeal almost lost me a job and did cost me several thousand dollars, which I am still paying off.


Mary E S, Boston, MA.


Just wanted to ask if you know of anyone that has been affected by the anitibiotic "Septra". I have taken it for 26 days, and my speech becomes impaired at times .. My tongue and lips feel swollen after reading aloud or speaking for a length of time.. I also noticed that when I eat it does the same ... I would appreciate it if you would email me and let me know because I have been thru MRI s and blood test and cannot find anything wrong .... Thank you so much....

Preacher B

SMZ/TMP DS 800-160: 25 August 2011

Thank you for having this website...it appears you are the only one that has info re: side effects of this med as well as the half life. Neither my dr. or my pharmacist ever takes me seriously or believes me when I ask questions about any med I think I'm reacting to it.

I was given it on 23 Aug. I started it that day. I'm supposed to take 2 daily but since it was late in the day I only took one. I took it again (1) the next a.m. I forgot about taking the second one and that  evening I noticed my lower lip appeared to have swelled up. I thought it was just my bad eyes and dismissed it.

This a.m. it was clear my lower lip was definitely swollen along with the top layer of skin outside the lip, just under my lower lip line, was gone. Not a large section but enough to hurt.

Yes, I took it again this a.m. not thinking it could be the med.

When sores mysteriously appeared on the inside of the upper lip as well as a few on the inside lower lip along with horrific neck pain and a banger of a headache, I got suspicious and started reading up on side effects.

Much to my surprise, the things I mentioned could be from the SMZ/TMP DS.  I called the pharmacy and my dr. and was duly dismissed....those things can't possibly be from the med. It's most likely the OA/smoking.

Since I already have severe spinal problems warranting opiod meds, the stiff neck was blamed on that and the mouth problem "most likely" was from a cold.

I went on the med for what the dr. thought was bronchitis, as it turned out, x-rays did not show any active disease in my lungs.

I am not taking this med ever again and hope no dr.slips it to me under another name that I'm not familiar with that is the same thing, just a different name.

I am downright miserable right now but hopefully in 2-3 days I'll feel better.

Thank you for being here and having this website!!!

SEPTRA: 7 September 2011

Hello Brian,

My name is Doris Edwards. I am 49 years old from Memphis, Tennessee. In October 2008, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I currently take Lisinopril, Metformin-(I am not currently taking this drug because of my doctor's orders), Novolin, Simvastatin, Novolog, Albuterol, Naproxen, Klor-Con, Zyrtec, Advair, Furosemide and Omeprazole.  

About five months ago, I had a urinary tract infection that was diagnosed by my doctor. She gave a prescription called Septra. After just the third day, I started experiencing bad side effects. I had diarrhea, fever, chills and convulsions that was ongoing for days. For a week, I experienced all these symptoms.

The first initial emergency room visit, I had a fever of 104 degrees and that was Saturday, June 25, 2011. The emergency room diagnosed me with rheumatoid fever and possible lupus. He told me to return to my doctor for a follow up within seven days. That Tuesday, which was June 28, 2011, I was going to my follow up appointment for what I went in that Saturday for and all of a sudden while getting into my car, I started having chills, convulsions and I could not move my mouth. My daughter took my temperature and it was 103.8. My uncle and my daughter dialed 911 and that day, my blood pressure dropped to a whopping 70/35 and my fever was still at 103.8 for hours, even taking Acetaminophen. From Tuesday to Thursday, I stayed in the ICU. They said too dehydrated to get a regular room. That Thursday, I received my regular room and stayed there from that day until Sunday, when I was released from the hospital. During that time, they did a lot of tests, CT scans, neck scans, whatever you could think of, I went through.

That Saturday night, the attending physician left for that day and he had his partner to take over. The odd part to this scenario was when his partner came in, he told me he was an infectious disease physician and he said that when I was to be discharged from the hospital, I would need IV antibiotic therapy until I came to see him. He said that would be ordered when I went home.

That Sunday came around and the attending physician from the day before told me that he did not know where this infection came from, but it seemed like it stemmed from sinus. All of my life, I have never had those symptoms to occur with a sinus infection. Maybe with the influenza, but not with a sinus infection. My daughter came into the hospital every night to see me and when she seen the doctor or the nurses, she told them I was taking Septra a week prior and these symptoms started. Not once did they look into that.

On that first emergency room visit, the doctors kept asking me was I ever out of the country, and we both, my daughter and I, said that we were never out of the country, and never have been our whole lives. I know a good three times they asked me that night. But back to the Tuesday-Sunday hospital event, the doctors told me that they could not find anything wrong with me and told me to take some very strong antibiotics, see your doctor and an infectious doctor within a few days. I have never came out of a hospital not knowing what was wrong with me.

As the days continued, I started having pain in my legs and joints. My right side I could not feel and it is still numb to this day. Now, I have sores on my rectum, my blood sugar level is out of whack. I am talking 520s. Since my blood sugar levels are off, I have dizziness, memory loss, coughing, and this is all still stemming from that third day after I took Septra. I am still going to my primary care physician, but I am still not getting any answers and they are calling me like every other day checking on my health. And this is abnormal for them because they do not do that.

I am still mentioning about the Septra, but they are brushing it away, like I was never on it. I need help! I do not know where to get the answers from.

Doris E

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