Bactrim - Septra - Septrin - SMZ-TMP: mail to this site on side-effects (5)

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: 29 September 2003


I have found your site to be especially helpful in enlightening me about the effects of using this drug. My wife at the time 26 years old ( May 2002 ) was prescribed this drug by her dermatologist for treating acne, or shall i say, to prevent acne ( my wife had no visible acne on her face ).One week or so later (maybe a couple of days ) she started to feel very ill, she had 104 degree fever, rash, difficulty breathing, sore throat, a stiff pain in her back ( almost as if she had a board of some sort jammed in her back )about a day and a half later we took her to her medical doctor, she immediately thought my wife had meningitus, and ordered us to the hospital.

( i should also say my wifes heart beat was very irregular and very fast, to the point where my wife was afraid she was having a heart attack ). When we got to the hospital it was tests after tests, they discovered my wifes heartbeat to be 125-130. A couple days later they told us she had a small heart attack. They did a spinal tap, tested her for lupus, EKG, even a Catherization to her heart. Eventually they said it was some sort of viral infection. We find out today from reading your site it was most definitely from the drug Bactrim. Please give if possible any advice you can on what we should do...also any information you feel may be of value to us. I find your site to be a GOD's send to us...as we have never even gave thought to the fact that it might be a drug side effect, when i asked the dermatolgist if he thought it might be a bad reaction to the drug, he said that was nonsense, and that she should "maybe" stop taking it but he didnt see that as a necessary step. Please help, as i see that you may have all the information we may need.

Thank you for your time, I hope this email reaches you in good health, and spirit.

Best wishes, and regards,

Ray and Brenda V.

APO-SULFATRIM DS: 29 September 2003

Dear Brian,

Having just endured two of the worst days of my life, I am so glad to have found your website.

I too was recently diagnosed with a UTI and prescribed Apo-Sulfatrim DS, two a day for 10 days. On the morning of the seventh day, I awoke and was sicker than I've ever been in my life. I felt like I was going to faint, my temperature spiked, my whole body was so tender I couldn't even lie in bed, I felt nauseous and dizzy, and a rash developed on my upper back and upper chest. This was Saturday, Sept. 27. On Sunday my husband took me to the ER as I was still too weak to do anything, although I believe I wasn't feeling quite as ill as I had the day before. My temperature was still spiked, the rash was more prominent, and when blood work was ordered it showed that my white blood cell count was rather low. I had to have the bloodwork repeated this morning, and the results were the same. So now I have to go and have more blood work done tomorrow. No one at the hospital made any connection between the UTI medication and my symptoms, but I haven't taken any since my Friday night pill. I will tell my doctor about your website in the hopes that she will rethink prescribing this medication in the future.

And hopefully my white blood count will return to normal, but who knows what the future holds?

Betty K.

SMZ/TMP: 1 October 2003

My Vet gave my Collie SMZTMP, a sulfur based antibiotic, for an abcess they drained at the office. The next morning my dog was dead. His blood tests were normal, no cancer etc.

Susan, Terre Haute, IN.

SEPTRA: 3 October 2003

Hello Brian,

I'm not sure if your still wanting reports on side effects caused by Septra. If you are I just wanted to let you know I've been taking Septra for about two weeks. I developed a rash on my tongue and blisters on the inside of my lips. The back of my neck feels like it does when I'm coming down with the flu and it settles in my neck. Needless to say, I called my Doctor today and told him I'm not taking it any more. He's supposed to call me back and let me know if it's the drug causing these problems. I know it is, so I'll never take this septra again. I'm very dissappointed in my Doctor for even prescribing this horrible drug.

Thanks for your research.

Tonya L, California.

BACTRIM: 7 October 2003

After reading your site while looking for information on side affect on this drug I am appaled that the a doctor would even consider prescibing this to anyone but expecaily a small child. My 5 year old son has been taking this medication as precribed by and after hour medical doctor for a UTI for about a week when he started complaining about his legs hurting last night. This morning he awoke with a rash that covers his torso and face. I did not give him any further doses of the Bactrim I took him to his regular pedatric doctor who looked for signs of joint damage and prescribed benadril every six hours for the next 24 hours.. If these are problem that are know about this drug why is it still being sold?

Lynda F, Minnesota.

SEPTRA: 10 October 2003

3 weeks ago, I was prescribed septra for an infected injury I had on my arm. A week later I broke out in a head to toe rash with fever. I went to the emergency room and was given benedril and prednizone. Those symptoms resolved themselves in about a week. Now I am experiencing symtoms that I'm fairly sure are early SJS. This drug is not safe. It needs to be taken off of the market. Everyone reading this - please let this be a lesson to you to research any prescribtion you have been given. Allergic reactions to drugs are the number 4 cause of deaths in the U.S. I wish I'd known that before.


SEPTRA: 18 October 2003

Hi Brian,

Thank you for posting my letter on Oct 10. I was the person who reported "fairly certain" they were experiencing early SJS. I would ask that you please print this follow up as a kindness to those people going through the same thing that may have experienced anxiety because of my letter. I was on prednisone and benedryl for 10 days. These drugs (along with the Septra reaction) all did bad things to me. The blisters in my mouth have cleared up. My "eye ulcers" were enlarged tear ducts, and my eyes were irritatated because my immune system was suppressed. These symptoms have all resolved. My "inside out" hot skin (although terrifying) has ceased as quickly as it started. I feel as healthy now as I did before this all started.I have experienced no rash since the initial drug reaction. Folks, the serum sickness from the Septra and the other drugs you take to keep your immune system down after a drug reaction will do bad things to you. If you don't believe me - look up the side effects of Prednisone and benedryl. Don't always assume the worst. I still know that the Septra could have caused me lasting damage, but I have every reason (now) to be hopeful that it didn't. Good health to all and god bless.


SEPTRA: 17 October 2003

Brian, I am writing to you from the U.S. I was subscribed Septra for a prostate infection. I had taken it for ten days or so, when I began to itch all over my body. By the end of the day my face and lips had swollen so badly that my co-workers demanded that I go to the Emergency Dept. at the nearest hospital.

By the time I arrived my hands were also swelling, and my right hand showing small blisters. When I swallowed it was as if I had a huge lump in my throat. I immediately had an I. V. tube inserted in my arm and was injected with steroids, antihistamines, and adrenaline. I spent five hours being treated, and after debating amongst themselves, the doctors decided I should go home, rather that stay overnight for observation.

I was given antihistamines, and prednisone to take for the next few days. The following day things seemed to be under control. However I woke up this morning with swollen beet red hands, my face was swelling again, as well as my feet. I had broken out all over with red, incredibly hot to the touch welts on my back, underarms, around my waist, under my legs, in my groin, and on the tops of my feet and hands. I also experienced terrible chills.

I went back up to the hospital immediately, where I first heard about the possibility of Stevens-Johnson syndrome. As my primary care physician is out of town, I now have to report to the Emergency Dept. daily for the next few days to monitor my condition, and perhaps have a biopsy done on the welts or lesions.

When I found your website, I was relieved, but also incredibly angry. I pray this goes away. I'm printing out some of your web pages to give to the Dr. tomorrow when I visit. Thanks for listening.

Kent L, Salt Lake City, Utah.

SMZ/TMP: 18 October 2003

I just recently saw your website. I was searching for more information on the drug SMZ/TMP after my fiance had the pre-mature birth of our son at 6 months old. She was perfectly healthy as was the baby up until a urinary tract infection. We went to the hospital where they monitered her and the baby, she recieved 3 shots to slow contractions and our doctor never came to examine my fiance. After orders from the doctor over the phone we where told to take the prescription for SMZ/TMP. After a week of severe abdominal pains and reassurances from our doctor that the drug was going to help and that the pain was normal we delivered our dead son. If you could in any way send me more info or direct me to anyone who could help us understand this better we would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.

Joe L.

BACTRIM: 18 October 2003

Dear Brian,

I've had trouble with allergies and an ongoing sinus problems for the past two months. After a recent move and switch to a new health plan, the doctor I saw last week prescribed Bactrim to me, for sinusitis. Previously I'd taken cipru and zythromax for this problem (I'm allergic to penicillin), but the new doctor specializes in urinary tract infections, and I suppose bactrim was her favorite antibiotic. On Thursday (10/16/03) I took my first pill and noticed an extreme fatigue. I thought this was an effect of the flu. On Friday I took the drug twice, and both times I noticed the return of this incredible fatigue. There was also a feeling of heaviness in my chest. I felt too weak to walk around outside, or to take a shower. But the doctor had advised that by taking a full dose of a stronger antibiotic, I could kill this sinus infection that just wouldn't go away. I imagined my body must be engaged in a fight to kill the bacteria. On Saturday (10/18/03) my ears were ringing when I woke up, and rather than feeling rested, I felt incredibly weak. Two hours later, I took my fourth Bactrim pill.

I was sitting on the sofa, editing a text. Within ten minutes, I felt an incredible weakness fall over my body. I could not hold my pen. My head felt like lead. My chest was tight, as if there were a large rock holding me down. I told my husband, and walked to the phone and tried to find the phone book, to call a health hotline or something. But I couldn't dial. I also couldn't stand up again. I crawled into the bedroom, fell onto the bed, and my husband put my shoes on and drove me to ER. I had trouble speaking, extreme light sensitivity, problems moving my limbs, and the feeling that I should hold my head very still. I concentrated to keep myself calm, and not to lose consciousness. By the time the doctors in ER saw me, more than one hour had passed since the allergy shock began, and my symptoms had significantly subsided.

I described the symptoms in detail to the nurses and doctors--ringing ears, tight chest, heaviness in my head, problems speaking, incredible fatigue. They did a CAT scan, blood tests, ekg. They found nothing. They made me feel as if I'd exaggerated, and dismissed my insistence that I was having an allergic reaction to bactrim. They said that if I were, I would have broken out in a rash. I heard this dismissal from staff at least 4-5 times. No rash, no allergy to antibiotics. They gave me a prescription for Zyrtec, and told me to see an allergist.

Today (10/19/03), I am still incredibly weak. I have a headache, dizziness, my ears are ringing, and I am too weak to stand without leaning. I spoke with my mother on the phone, a pharmacy technician. She was very upset to hear that I'd taken bactrim, which she explained was a sulfite-antibiotic. She said that I'd had a strong allergic reaction to sulfite-antibiotics as a child. Unfortunately, I seem to have forgotten about this. My father said he was also allergic to sulfite-antibiotics, and that he'd visited the emergency room after taking one as a teenager. I also called the ER today, and left a message for the resident and staff physicians who treated me. I want to be sure that they are informed that their diagnosis was wrong. I feel as if I came close to death perhaps, yesterday, and then had the added humiliated of being treated by the medical staff as if I were merely hysterical.

Thank you for creating this website, and for making information accessible to me to find, the day after this incident took place. I wish I knew what to do about my current symptoms. Thus far, I can only think to take Benadryl, against the possible inflammation/swelling of an allergic reaction. When I see my new doctor on Monday, the one who specializes in UTI, I don't suspect she'll have any useful assistance.

Angela J, Ypsilanti, MI.

SEPTRIN: 28 October 2003


I have just been reading your anti-Septrin campaign. It is very sad indeed that so many people have these bad reactions and these deaths have ocurred.

However, as a someone with a chronic urine infection I have to take Septrin whenever my condition flares up - and when it does it can get really serious including kidney infection, bleeding and severe fever.

Septrin has been the only drug to effectively control these flare-ups. I am pretty much sure that were it not for this drug I would not be alive today.

There must be many people like me who have been saved with Septrin, probably more than those allegedly killed.

It sounds to me that the need for an allergy test might be more useful to the world community as a whole than a banning of this drug which has helped millions.

David C.

SEPTRIN: 2 November 2003

Hi Brian

Very intrested in your story. I am currently undergoing Chemotherapy for Hodgkins Disease have had 11 sesssions of Chemo, 1 to go then the big scan. I developed problems after 4 sessions of Chemo and the doctors were unsure if I had Pneumonia, an infection associated with my daughter who had Chicken Pox at the time or if it was an adverse reaction to a chemo drug called Bleomycin.

As a precaution they took me of the Chemo Drug bleomycin and started me on Septrin my Dosage was 22 x 480mg tablets a day taken in 3 lots of 6 and 4 at night time. Subsequent tests have confirmed that the chemo Drug Bleomycin caused the problems and has caused fibrosis to my lungs which will hopefully be recoverable. I have to accept this as it was noboddys fault.

I believe that at this point I should have been taken off Septrin as it was being used to treat Pneomonia which I did not have.

However after about 4 weeks of being on the drug Septrin I started to develop a red rash on my inner thighs, breathlessness and thrush in my mouth and throat. I was continuing to take a high maintenance dose of Septrin and the rash breathlessness and thrush was getting worse by the day.

My symptons were described to a GP, Chemotherapy Nurse twice and the chest specialist who was treating me. None of them suggested that the Septrin could be causing the problems.

I finally decided to look up the effects of Septrin on the net and was astonished that its side effects were exactly the same as mine. I continued with the drug and made an appointment to see my GP. After reading the fact sheet she immeadately took me of Septrin.

At one point I thought I was losing my mind as I could not concentrate or sit still or relax.

Can you tell me if there are any long term side effects from the drug Septrin and whether I have a case to go legal ?

Many Thanks



SEPTRA DS: 10 November 2003

Hello from across the pond,

I am a legal nurse consultant who is researching a case where there was a fetal demise during a pregnancy with twins. The mother was prescribed Septra DS twice for urinary tract infections during her third trimester. Do you have any references for fetal death or birth defects associated with Septra? I would be most appreciative if you could share them.


Kristin G.

SMZ/TMP: 14 November 2003

Last week I began taking a prescription of the above antibiotic prescribed to me for a sinus infection. Neither the prescribing doctor or the pharmacy warned me about any side effects. I failed to read the information given to me with the prescription because I just assumed it was another antibiotic and I have never had a problem with antibiotics. The second day on the antibiotic I had a guest over for dinner and we drank several glasses of wine. That night I was awake most of the night with a splitting headache. I assumed it was the wine. The next morning I had diarrhea for hours and then I got nauseated and threw up quite violently. I remained in bed for the rest of the day. The following day I resumed taking the antibiotic. I have had almost a constant headache and nausea all week. Then two nights ago after getting in bed, I began shaking from the inside out. I was so cold I could not go to sleep. My head and neck ached so bad I began to think I might be dealing with meningitis. I put on my sweats, put extra blankets on the bed, put my heating pad in bed with me and turned up the heat. I finally went to sleep at 5:00 am and needless to say was unable to go to work the next day (which cost me $200 as my boss does not pay for sick leave. This was the first time in 3 years that I had to miss a day of work because of sickness. I have always been very healthy). While being at home I started wondering if all this sickness might not be side effects from the antibiotic since it all started right after I began taking the prescription. After going on the Internet today and reading about all the side effects and peoples ruined health, I am very upset. I am wondering now if I might end up with long term health problems. I don't know what to do next - if anything. Do you give advice?

Thank you,

Sandy T.

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