Bactrim - Septra - Trimeth-Sulfa: mail to this website on side-effects (9)

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
<<< Sunday Times letters <<< Side-effects of Bactrim - Septra - Septrin >>> Next page of emails >>>

  BACTRIM/SEPTRA: 2 April 2004


I had a very severe reaction after taking Bactrim or Septra (I cannot recall which exact drug, I m only sure it was one of these two names) back in 1989. I was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection (essentially the common cold) while in a college infirmary. I was given the drug even though I wasn t terribly sick. For the remainder of the 11 days that I was in the infirmary, each time I got out of bed to go to the bedroom or answer the phone, I would get tunnel vision and feel as though I was about to pass out. I was extremely weak and fatigued, coughing, sore throat, and difficulty breathing. After 10 days of this medication, my mom came to visit.

(She was an intensive care nurse clinician/educator at the time who had served on various advisory committees) She listened to my lungs and said she could hear crackles . Her assumption was that I was recovering from a severe virus that had attacked my lungs. A day later, she left and my doctor came by to see me. He kicked me out of the infirmary, claiming that I was atrophying from lack of activity. So I went. The next morning, I woke up with quite a shock. I had a bright, red, raised rash over my entire body. The area around my eyes was white and blotchy. My face was a slight purplish tint. I told people it felt like I had a horrific sunburn and then rolled in poison ivy followed by rolling in pine needles. I could barely eat, and all of this was accompanied by a horrible bronchial-sounding cough. Fortunately, on the eleventh day of the medicine, (before the rash started) my mom advised me to go ahead and get off the medicine, just as a precaution. I believe due to her instincts, this advice probably saved my life. After three days of agony, trying to survive with OTC Benadryl, barely able to wear clothes and unable to sleep, I went back to a different doctor. (typical college student to wait three days) She took lung x-rays and told me that I had had a severe sulfa drug reaction. She advised that I should make sure that I never take it again or it would kill me. A week later, as I continued my recovery at home, my mom noticed that my hair was short as though someone had cut it right around my face. It was only then that we realized that I had actually lost some of my hair, and it was now growing in again. (I had extremely long, thick hair at the time, so we didn t realize this until later.) Now, I am 33 years old. I now have mild asthma, heart palpitations, and insomnia. (Also, a seemingly unrelated rare, severe, neurologic disorder called paroxysmal dyskinesia .) All of these health problems (except the paroxysmal dyskinesia) seem to trace back to this drug reaction. Is it possible that the side effects have lingered for 15 years? I have struggled since that two week time period with these nagging health problems. Before that, I was otherwise healthy. I feel fairly certain that the asthma and dysrythmias and insomnia are linked to the reaction. I m sorry this is so wordy, but if you have any answers, I would be so grateful! Thank you!

Rebecca H, Littleton, CO

BACTRIM: 5 April 2004

I was told I had a bladder and vaginal infection about 10 days ago. was put on Bactrim DS. Am still on it. I have chills in the morning and am nausauted. Twice I had the sensation that I fell of the bed ( but I did fall, just felt like I did. Now I feel itchey all over and the infection is still there . I am a 78 year old woman.


SEPTRA: 8 April 2004

I have a comment you can put on your site&My Wife got pneumonia a few months ago and ended up in the hospital because of it. She was given Septra and instead of getting better, she got worse&She started having circulation problems in her legs, hair loss and her left lung collapsed!!! All because of that drug. She was later told that she was allergic to some of the specific ingredients inside that medication. I nearly lost my wife because of wrongful medication diagnosis. I don't want anyone to ever have to go through what myself, her family and my family had to go through. I can relate to all the comments that are on your website. We need to better educate the rest of the world on this seriously dangerous medication.

Thank you


BACTRIM: 14 Apr 2004

Three weeks ago I was put on Bactrim for a sinus infections. Four days into the antibiotic, I woke up with a horrible taste in my mouth and abdominal pain. It has not gone away yet. I have had various tests...as the doctor does not believe it was the Bactrim causing it. I am also tired all the time and have not felt good since the first day I took the medicine. I am going crazy trying to figure out how to get rid of this taste and constant nausea. Prilosec and other acid reducers are not doing a thing for this.

BACTRIM: 26 April 2004

Dear Mr. Deer:

I am a legal investigator in Miami Florida, USA. First and foremost, I want to thank you for all the research material on this drug. Your website has been a great help.

We are investigating a case in which the patient was on Bactrim and developed a high fever. When she told her doctor about the fever, he told her to continue the drug for another week or so to give the drug time to work. She went on to develop a severe skin rash and was subsequently hospitalized for almost a month. She was near death on several occasions, this was attributed to, "Stevens-Johnson Syndrome". Although she has functionally recovered somewhat, she now has severe scarring and discomfort. We are now in the process of filing a claim against the doctor for negligence. Our theory is that the doctor should have discontinued the drug therapy immediately upon hearing of the high fever, (according to "PDR). Also, most of my research bears this out as well. My problem is thus; It seems, from my research, that the US has not had , or has not reported, the severe consequences to the degree I have read about in your website, therefore, there is less authoritative information on the subject here. It would be greatly appreciated if you could point me to an expert (in the US) on this subject.

Thanks, and keep up the good fight.

John D.W, Miami, FL

SMZ/TMP DS: 30 April 2004

i have been prescribed smz/tmp ds, after takeing for a week i am starting to itch and my skin feels hot and i shake all the time , is the medication doing this, is it dangerous to continue this medication.


BACTRIM DS: 2 May 2004

I was prescribed the subject drug about a year ago in an attempt to treat an odd persistent 'stuffiness' in my left ear. It had no effect on that but I experienced a weird positive side effect which subsided within two days of discontinuing the drug. In short, I was really struck by the increased energy and alertness I experienced while taking this stuff, so much so that I was tempted to ask to stay on it. Ever heard of such a thing? Basically, for years I have fought through a low-level type of 'malaise' or fatigue that no physician has been able to diagnose or treat. Not severe, mind you, and I've pretty much given up on mentioning to MDs anymore but this was the first thing that seemed to dissipate it entirely.

Paul H.

SMZ-TMP: 10 May 2004

I got prescribed SMZ-TMP and Percoset when I was diagnosed with a kidney stone on April 28 of this year. After spending one night in the hospital, I came home and started taking the antibiotic and Percoset. After one pill of the SMZ-TMP, I felt as if I had a blazing fever. Then I was so cold I couldn't get warm no matter what I did. I would sweat uncontrollably, have what I can only describe as anxiety attacks, shortness of breath, and my lungs felt as though they were filling with fluid causing me to cough incessantly. And this went on for five days keeping me out of work all of last week.

Since I have never had a kidney stone before, I didn't know if these symptoms were caused by my stopping the Percoset I was prescribed or if they were a side-effect of the kidney stone, or both. Since I was no longer in any real pain, I stopped taking the Percoset. I was still taking the SMZ-TMP and I began to think that what I was feeling might have been withdrawal from the Percoset. Though when I thought about it, the withdrawal didn't make sense since I was only on the Percoset for two days. So I stopped taking the SMZ-TMP pills a week ago and have felt much better but I have not felt completely right since. I still feel hazy, my joints (mainly my knees) are sore, and even this morning I was experiencing the hot/cold effects and my equilibrium was very off.

I'm actually rather worried after reading all of these submissions from other people having outrageous side-effects from this drug. I hope there has been no serious, permanent damage done to me because of this. Normally I have no problems with medication but this one caused what I feel was a really bad reaction.

Stephen W, Baltimore, MD


SEPTRA: 20 May 2004

Hello Brian. Thank you for the information on your site. I have just returned from an ER visit after an allergic reaction to Septra.

The vicious headache, and I do mean VICIOUS, dizzines, stiff achy neck, fatigue, itching and sky high fever sums up the symptoms I had. I wondered if I was coming down with the flu or worse. I never thought it was an allergic reaction to the drug I was taking.

This has been a huge learning experience for me. As a result, Ill be very vigilant about any medicine I take in the future


I took this medication about 1 month ago for sinus & lung infection, I broke out in hives about the 4th day, i took it for 3 more days and was o.k.....then i took 3 doses a month later and broke out in hives( under arms, behind knees, groin are, betwwen thighs) again , each occurring everynight, through out the night and into the morning, i have quit it now for 5 days and I am still breaking out on and off every day, it gets worse everytime, i can get no good response from the doc or the pharmicist, , they just say it is an allergic reaction...well if you can help, please let me know

Roxanne B.

BACTRIM: 23 May 2004

Dear Mr. Deer:

I was prescribed generic Macrobid for a urinary tract infection but felt it was making me groggy so I phoned my doctor for a substitute. I was prescribed generic Bactrim and am not doing well with it. The morning of the third dose, I went out to a local farmer's market where I nearly fainted. Once safely home, I felt queasy and had blurred vision and weakness (though not severe) in my legs. I also became achy in my shoulders and had slightly slurred speech.

Since I wasn't absolutely sure it was the medicine and not just the UTI making me sick, I went ahead and took doses four at night. In the morning, I felt mostly normal (probably because the dose had worn off) and took dose number five. Within a short period of time my legs were weak again, my eyelids heavy with some vision disturbances, I threw up, and (after reading your site) realized that my mouth was being affected as well. I won't be taking the drug again.

Barbara S, Baltimore, MD

SMZ/TMP DS: 26 May 2004

I was prescribed SMZ/TMP DS 800-160 bec. of a possible urine infection.

I started the pills on a last Wednesday 5-19-04. By the 23rd. I was having Fever, Chills and Nausea. I was affraid because I thought I was having another Bowel Injury and was going to wind-up back on the bag! (That's another story). I call my Dr. on the 23rd, the person who answered the phone informed me very clearly that there is NO medication that causes Fever.. (I can't wait to tell her off!) On the 25th, the I began itching and it just got worse and worse then I noticed that I was broken out in little bumps. I call poision control she knew of the drug I told her I also had a sore throat joint/neck pain and a little heaviness in the chest area.

Tommorrow I'm going to the emergancy room and give them your web address so they will know that this is NOT in my head and I'm going to tell them to give me a full blood count. It's 4:46 a.m.... I'm itching badly and will not be able to sleep so I decided to write in about my Sulfamethoxazole Story.

My mother kept telling me that it had to be the prescription, but with the nurse saying it wasn't AND the bottle saying to finish ALL MEDICATIONS. (We know what happens when one does not finish an antibotic Med.)

I continue to take the pill up until about 6 p.m. on the 25th.

Now I know that this Drug is Very Dangerous.


BACTRIM: 27 May 2004

I have developed severe bleeding from the uterus after taking bactrim for 7 days for a supposed UTI. The bleeding is post-menopausal, so it can be serious. Thankfully, it has subsided after several hours, and I am visiting my doctor in the a.m. Hopefully, she will agree that is a side effect of bactrim. It also caused me a mild nosebleed.

Let's all keep each other informed of this dangerous drug.

Betty S.

NOVO-TRIMEL: 29 May 2004

I found your site while researching Novo-Trimel a.k.a.Septra a.k.a. Bactrim.

I started the med on a Thursday night for a UTI. Within an hour, my abdomen and stomach bloated but that went down by the next morning. I took another pill on Fri. morning (2/day) and went to work where my abdominal area became even more distended, painful and full of gas.

I did take one more pill Friday night and once again, the whole mess continued. I woke up on Sat. morning still distnded and a feeling of being "bruised" inside my abdomen. I decided then and there to stop the med and to look into something else on Monday.

I would like to know if you have heard of this type of reaction at all. I checked over almost all of the e-mails but apart from abdominal pain, I didn't see anyone mention bloating and distension.

Thank you very much,


SEPTRA: 30 May 2004

My 6 yo has just finished up a septra prescription for a UTI...I think the exposure to the sun at school on Friday gave her this itchy rash she has had for approx. 24 hrs now. Am giving her benedryl and using calamine lotion....I am wondering how long it takes for this rash/itchy thing to go away.

SEPTRIN: 1 June 2004

Dear Mr Deer,

Thanks for providing an informative website.

I was prescribed Septrin for six years and although I experienced a series of side effects including severe pain and bleeding from the kidneys which required several trips to A&E, my doctor remained adamant that Septrin was an extremely safe drug and insisted that I kept on taking it. I could not understand his attitude as he was not even prepared to contemplate or investigate the fact that Septrin could have any side effects. When I stopped taking it most of the side effects stopped nearly immediately. Last week I found out that over 4000 doctors are under investigation in Italy for accepting expensive gifts, holidays and/or equipment in exchange for prescribing Glaxo products to their patients. The same thing happened in Germany in 2002. Is this the reason why my doctor was so keen that I took my Septrin? Is this the reason why my doctor had a flashier computer system almost every other year (in a trust that is supposed to be strapped for cash) for instance? I do not want to appear paranoid but I cannot honestly think of any other logical explanation.

Dave M

BACTRIM: 9 June 2004

Dear Mr Deer,

I came across your site by accident while looking for information on Bactrim. I don't want to question your research in any way - it is quite obvious that Bactrim and its equivalents have had adverse effects in some cases. It should perhaps be pointed out though that there are quite a few other antibiotics which also have bad effects on some people. In my own case I was on a Cipro antibiotic for two months for an infection of the urinary tract, which eventually seemed to provoke a severe bout of diarrhea. I was then switched to Bactrim (this was in Portugal, not the UK) and have been taking it with good results for the past three months while awaiting an operation to deal with the cause of the infection. That doesn't invalidate other experiences of course, and it may well be that Trimethoprim on its own would have been equally effective. Certainly Trimethoprim seems preferable in treatment of cystitis.

David S.

SMZ-TMP: 15 June 2004


Our 4 and a half year old Rottweiler was diagnosed with a UTI on May 18, 2004 and her vet prescribed SMZ-TMP. On May 28, 2004 (a week and a half of taking 2 pills twice a day) we rushed her to the vet as her right eye was entirely red and the size of a baseball. The vet she saw (not her regular vet) insisted it couldn't have been a reaction to the SMZ-TMP and that she needed to see an opthamologist as a blood vessel in her eye had hemmoraged. The next day she developed thick mucous across each eye and we called the vet back again demanding to know how this could NOT be a drug reaction, when the label makes reference to eye related symptoms. He admitted it has been known to cause eye irritations in dogs, and she should immediately stop using the medication. We still took her to an opthamologist at Univ Penn although her eye appeared to clear up after a few days. Unfortunately, the worst of our troubles had just begun. The vet at Univ Penn discovered she had a dangerously low platelet count and needed additional testing. Her ultrasound showed an enlarged spleen and an unhealthy looking liver and kidney and additional blood tests showed critically low platelet counts, or red blood cell counts.. or both over the course of a few more days. It was determined that Cleo had hydrolytic anemia due to an auto-immune response and needed steroid treatment to reverse this. The vets all believed it was caused due to an allergy to this SMZ-TMP. We also were told that Rottweilers and Dobermann's are especially sensitive to this drug. Sadly to say, the steroid treatment did nothing to help her and she died of internal bleeding she suffered as a result of the anemia...just three short weeks after her inital diagnosis of the UTI. It was very painful to see such a young, strong, active pal deteriorate so severely as quickly as she did. It seems there should be a way of testing an animal, or a person for that matter, for sulpha-allergies before prescribing this drug. I'm quite scared that myself or a family member might be prescribed this!

Thank you for your time and research on this matter.

Lori D.

<<< Go to first page of emails <<< Side-effects of Bactrim - Septra - Ectaprim >>> Go to next page of emails >>>

Deer's Bactrim - Septra homepage