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What is Bactrim?

Bactrim contains a combination of sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim and is supplied in tablets and a liquid suspension. Sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim are both antibiotics that treat different types of infection caused by bacteria.

Bactrim is used to treat ear infections, urinary tract infections, bronchitis, traveler's diarrhea, shigellosis, and Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia.

Bactrim may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important information about Bactrim

You should not use Bactrim if you are allergic to sulfamethoxazole or trimethoprim, if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, or if you have anemia (lack of red blood cells) caused by folic acid deficiency.

Before using Bactrim, tell your doctor if you have kidney or liver disease, a folic acid deficiency, asthma or severe allergies, a thyroid disorder, HIV or AIDS, porphyria, G6PD deficiency, or if you are malnourished.

Take this medicine for the full prescribed length of time. Your symptoms may improve before the infection is completely cleared. Skipping doses may also increase your risk of further infection that is resistant to antibiotics. Bactrim will not treat a viral infection such as the common cold or flu.

Antibiotic medicines can cause diarrhea, which may be a sign of a new infection. If you have diarrhea that is watery or has blood in it, call your doctor. Do not use any medicine to stop the diarrhea unless your doctor has told you to.

Avoid exposure to sunlight or tanning beds. This medication can make you sunburn more easily. Wear protective clothing and use sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) when you are outdoors.

Before taking Bactrim

You should not use Bactrim if you are allergic to sulfamethoxazole or trimethoprim, if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, or if you have anemia (lack of red blood cells) caused by folic acid deficiency.

To make sure Bactrim is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

  • kidney or liver disease;

  • a folic acid deficiency;

  • asthma or severe allergies;

  • a thyroid disorder;

  • HIV or AIDS;

  • porphyria (a genetic enzyme disorder that causes symptoms affecting the skin or nervous system);

  • a glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD deficiency); or

  • if you are malnourished.

FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether Bactrim will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.

Sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use Bactrim without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Do not give this medication to a child younger than 2 months old.

Older adults may be more likely to have side effects from this medicine.

How should I take Bactrim?

Take Bactrim exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.

Measure liquid Bactrim with a special dose-measuring spoon or cup, not a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.

Take Bactrim for the full prescribed length of time. Your symptoms may improve before the infection is completely cleared. Skipping doses may also increase your risk of further infection that is resistant to antibiotics. Bactrim will not treat a viral infection such as the common cold or flu.

Drink plenty of fluids to prevent kidney stones while you are taking trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole.

Bactrim can cause unusual results with certain medical tests. Tell any doctor who treats you that you are using Bactrim.

Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Overdose symptoms may include severe forms of some of the side effects listed in this medication guide.

What should I avoid while taking Bactrim?

Antibiotic medicines can cause diarrhea, which may be a sign of a new infection. If you have diarrhea that is watery or bloody, stop taking this medication and call your doctor. Do not use anti-diarrhea medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Avoid exposure to sunlight or tanning beds. This medication can make you sunburn more easily. Wear protective clothing and use sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) when you are outdoors.

Bactrim side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to Bactrim: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • diarrhea that is watery or bloody;

  • fever, chills, swollen glands, body aches, flu symptoms, sores in your mouth and throat;

  • new or worsening cough;

  • pale skin, feeling light-headed, rapid heart rate, trouble concentrating;

  • easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum), purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin;

  • severe tingling or numbness, slow heart rate, weak pulse, muscle weakness;

  • nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);

  • urinating less than usual or not at all;

  • hallucinations, seizure (convulsions);

  • low blood sugar (headache, hunger, weakness, sweating, confusion, irritability, or feeling jittery);

  • the first sign of any skin rash, no matter how mild; or

  • severe skin reaction -- fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling.

Less serious Bactrim side effects may include:

  • vomiting;

  • painful or swollen tongue;

  • dizziness, spinning sensation;

  • ringing in your ears; or

  • tired feeling, sleep problems (insomnia).

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect Bactrim?

Tell your doctor about all other medications you use, especially:

  • an antidepressant;

  • a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven);

  • cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune);

  • oral diabetes medication;

  • digoxin (Lanoxin, Lanoxicaps);

  • a diuretic (water pill);

  • indomethacin (Indocin);

  • leucovorin, calcium folinate;

  • methotrexate (Trexall, Rheumatrex);

  • heart or blood pressure medication such as benazepril (Lotensin), captopril (Capoten), fosinopril (Monopril), enalapril (Vasotec), lisinopril (Prinivil, Zestril), moexipril (Univasc), perindopril (Aceon), quinapril (Accupril), ramipril (Altace), or trandolapril (Mavik).

  • seizure medication such as phenytoin (Dilantin);

This list is not complete and other drugs may interact with Bactrim. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.

For the Consumer

Applies to sulfamethoxazole / trimethoprim: oral suspension, oral tablet

Along with its needed effects, sulfamethoxazole / trimethoprim may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking sulfamethoxazole / trimethoprim:

Rare
  • Abdominal or stomach pain
  • black, tarry stools
  • blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
  • changes in skin color
  • chest pain
  • chills
  • cough or hoarseness
  • dark urine
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • fever with or without chills
  • general feeling of tiredness or weakness
  • headache
  • itching
  • joint or muscle pain
  • light-colored stools
  • loss of appetite
  • lower back or side pain
  • nausea
  • pain, tenderness, or swelling of the foot or leg
  • painful or difficult urination
  • pale skin
  • rash
  • red skin lesions, often with a purple center
  • red, irritated eyes
  • shortness of breath
  • sore throat
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots in the mouth or on the lips
  • swollen or painful glands
  • tightness in the chest
  • unpleasant breath odor
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • vomiting of blood
  • wheezing
  • yellow eyes or skin
Incidence not known
  • Abdominal or stomach tenderness
  • back, leg, or stomach pains
  • bleeding gums
  • blindness or vision changes
  • blisters, hives, or itching
  • bloating
  • blood in the urine or stools
  • bluish-colored lips, fingernails, or palms
  • burning, crawling, itching, numbness, painful, prickling, "pins and needles", or tingling feelings
  • burning of the face or mouth
  • chest pain
  • cloudy urine
  • confusion
  • constipation
  • continuing ringing or buzzing or other unexplained noise in the ears
  • convulsions
  • cracks in the skin
  • decreased frequency or amount of urine
  • diarrhea, watery and severe, which may also be bloody
  • difficulty with breathing
  • difficulty with swallowing
  • fainting spells
  • general body swelling
  • general feeling of discomfort or illness
  • hair loss
  • hearing loss
  • hives
  • increased thirst
  • indigestion
  • irregular heartbeat
  • large, flat, blue, or purplish patches in the skin
  • large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs
  • loss of heat from the body
  • muscle or joint pain
  • nosebleeds
  • not able to pass urine
  • numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or lips
  • pain or burning while urinating
  • pinpoint red spots on the skin
  • puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • raised red swellings on the skin, the buttocks, legs, or ankles
  • redness of the white part of the eyes
  • redness, swelling, or soreness of the tongue
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
  • soreness of the muscles
  • stiff neck or back
  • swelling of the face, hands, legs, and feet
  • unsteadiness, trembling, or other problems with muscle control or coordination
  • unusual weight loss
  • weakness in the hands or feet
  • weakness or heaviness of the legs
  • weight gain

Some side effects of sulfamethoxazole / trimethoprim may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common
  • Passing of gas
Incidence not known
  • Discouragement
  • feeling of constant movement of self or surroundings
  • feeling sad or empty
  • increased sensitivity of the skin to sunlight
  • irritability
  • lack of feeling or emotion
  • loss of interest or pleasure
  • nervousness
  • redness or other discoloration of the skin
  • seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
  • sensation of spinning
  • severe sunburn
  • trouble concentrating
  • trouble sleeping
  • uncaring
  • weight loss

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Applies to sulfamethoxazole / trimethoprim: intravenous solution, oral suspension, oral tablet

General

The most common side effects have included nausea, vomiting, anorexia, rash, and urticaria. Side effects generally are more common and more severe in patients with AIDS.

The most frequently reported serious adverse reactions in elderly patients have included severe skin reactions, generalized bone marrow suppression, a specific decrease in platelets (with or without purpura), and hyperkalemia.

Sulfonamides have rarely been associated with fatal reactions, including Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, fulminant hepatic necrosis, agranulocytosis, aplastic anemia, and other blood dyscrasias.

Adverse reactions to sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim occur in 50% to 100% of patients with AIDS, compared to approximately 14% in those without AIDS receiving treatment for Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia. Up to 57% of AIDS patients treated with sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim require a change in therapy due to adverse effects.

Dermatologic

Dermatologic side effects were usually due to hypersensitivity to the sulfamethoxazole component.

A few cases of acute febrile neutrophilic dermatosis (Sweet's syndrome), characterized by abrupt onset of painful erythematous plaques or nodules and a fever greater than 38 degrees Celsius, have been reported.

Rare (less than 0.1%): Acute febrile neutrophilic dermatosis (Sweet's syndrome), acute patchy exanthematous pustulosis (at least 1 case)
Frequency not reported: Mild erythroderma, severe exfoliative dermatitis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, erythema multiforme, exfoliative dermatitis, generalized skin eruptions, photosensitivity, phototoxicity, pruritus, urticaria, rash

Gastrointestinal

Frequency not reported: Nausea, vomiting/emesis, diarrhea, stomatitis, glossitis, abdominal pain, anorexia, pseudomembranous colitis, Clostridium difficile associated diarrhea, pancreatitis

Hypersensitivity

Frequency not reported: Anaphylaxis, allergic myocarditis, angioedema, Henoch-Schonlein purpura, serum sickness-like syndrome, generalized allergic reactions, fixed drug eruption, hypersensitivity reactions (including cholestatic jaundice, interstitial nephritis, liver failure, renal failure, pancytopenia, hypotension, pulmonary edema, elevated serum transaminases)

A case of fixed drug eruption due to polysensitivity (sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim and tenoxicam) and reactivation of previous (10 years earlier) sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim-associated fixed drug eruption lesions has been reported.

Hypersensitivity reactions may be more likely in patients with HIV infection, with opportunistic infections, or patients who are slow acetylators.

Hypotension, pulmonary edema, and elevated serum transaminases have been reported following sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim administration to HIV-infected patients.

Hypersensitivity reactions in some cases have included cholestatic jaundice, interstitial nephritis, liver failure, renal failure, and pancytopenia.

A 48-year-old male developed liver failure, renal failure requiring hemodialysis, and pancytopenia requiring blood transfusions after 10 days of treatment with sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim for pyelonephritis. This was believed to be a hypersensitivity reaction. He was a slow acetylator phenotype and had concurrently taken acetaminophen and diclofenac; the acetaminophen may have contributed to the reaction by inhibiting NAT2.

Hematologic

Frequency not reported: Agranulocytosis, aplastic anemia, thrombocytopenia, leukopenia, neutropenia, hemolytic anemia, megaloblastic anemia, hypoprothrombinemia, methemoglobinemia, eosinophilia
Postmarketing reports: Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura

Because trimethoprim inhibits a step in folate synthesis, patients that are likely to have preexisting folate deficiencies (e.g., alcoholics, malnourished patients, patients on phenytoin or antifolate metabolites, and those with chronic hemolysis) are at risk of developing megaloblastic anemia during sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim therapy. Folate replenishment reverses this effect.

Methemoglobinemia occurred twice in an HIV-infected patient who inadvertently received sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim a second time after the first course was discontinued due to development of methemoglobinemia.

Nervous system

Rare (less than 0.1%): Higher-level gait disorder (at least 1 case)
Frequency not reported: Aseptic meningitis, convulsions, peripheral neuritis, ataxia, vertigo, tinnitus, headache, dizziness, tremors, lightheadedness, coma, seizures, multifocal myoclonus, bilateral asterixis, exacerbation of posthypoxic action myoclonus

Exacerbation of posthypoxic action myoclonus occurred in a patient with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma who was receiving high-dose intravenous sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim (115 mg/kg/day) for suspected Pneumocystis pneumonia.

HIV-infected patients receiving high-dose intravenous sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim appear to have a greater incidence of tremors. The tremors generally appear several days after initiating therapy and resolve several days after discontinuation or dose reduction.

An 82-year-old male developed higher-level gait disorder on day 37 of treatment, 2 days after his dosage was doubled to sulfamethoxazole 320 mg-trimethoprim 1600 mg orally twice a day. During this time, the patient also had nocturnal delirium. Sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim was discontinued on day 48 and the patient's gait returned to normal and his nocturnal delirium resolved by day 51.

Renal

Frequency not reported: Renal failure, interstitial nephritis, elevated BUN and serum creatinine, toxic nephrosis with oliguria and anuria, tubular necrosis, crystalluria, aggravation of renal disease, azotemia, hyperkalemic renal tubular acidosis, overestimations of normal creatinine values

Trimethoprim inhibits renal tubular creatinine secretion, which can result in a significant decrease in creatinine clearance. These changes appear to be completely reversible upon discontinuation of therapy. Sulfamethoxazole may cause sulfa crystalluria, especially during low urine output states.

Interstitial nephritis and tubular necrosis may be due to hypersensitivity.

The propylene glycol vehicle in intravenous sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim and lorazepam has also been implicated in the development of acute tubular necrosis in a patient.

Hyperkalemia has occurred with both standard and high-dose therapy. Reported cases have resolved upon discontinuation of the drug, although a few have required treatment with sodium polystyrene sulfonate. Up to 20% of patients with AIDS who are given sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim for Pneumocystis pneumonia develop mild hyperkalemia.

Sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim may interfere with creatinine determinations by the Jaffe alkaline picrate assay, resulting in overestimations of normal values.

Hepatic

Cholestatic hepatitis associated with sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim therapy may present with other signs of hypersensitivity, such as rash, fever, and eosinophilia. Biopsy findings in patients with sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim-associated cholestatic hepatitis have included hepatic necrosis, hepatocyte degeneration, hepatic granuloma, centrilobular congestion, and inflammatory infiltrates.

A 34-year-old female developed pancreatitis and hepatitis after inadvertently receiving sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim for treatment of a urinary tract infection several years after experiencing a previous episode of sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim-associated hepatitis.

Frequency not reported: Hepatitis (including cholestatic jaundice, hepatic necrosis), elevated serum transaminase, elevated bilirubin, elevated liver function tests, fulminant hepatic failure, hepatic and/or cholestatic lesions, hepatitis with simultaneous pancreatitis, hepatorenal failure, cholestatic liver disease with ductopenia

Metabolic

Rare (less than 0.1%): Hypoglycemia
Frequency not reported: Hyperkalemia, metabolic acidosis, hyponatremia, hypouricemia

Hyperkalemia may occur as a result of the blocking of sodium channels by trimethoprim, which causes a reduction of potassium excretion in the distal tubule.

High doses of intravenous sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim appear to be associated with a greater incidence of metabolic acidosis.

Sulfonamides may induce hypoglycemia. However, the establishment of a causal relationship has been difficult in most cases of suspected sulfa-induced hypoglycemia because many of the affected patients had AIDS, may have had another viral infection, or were on other medications.

Hypouricemia has been associated with high-dose therapy.

Other

Frequency not reported: Sepsis-like syndrome (hypotension, fever, rash, and pulmonary infiltrates), weakness, fatigue, drug fever, chills, facial edema

Psychiatric

Frequency not reported: Hallucinations, depression, apathy, nervousness, insomnia, irritability, confusion, disorientation, catatonia, nocturnal delirium, exacerbation of panic attacks, acute psychoses

Musculoskeletal

Isolated cases of rhabdomyolysis have been reported, primarily in patients with AIDS.

Rare (less than 0.1%): Rhabdomyolysis
Frequency not reported: Arthralgia, myalgia, periarteritis nodosa, systemic lupus erythematosus

Respiratory

Frequency not reported: Cough, shortness of breath, pulmonary infiltrates

Hypersensitivity reactions of the respiratory tract associated with sulfonamides have included cough, shortness of breath, and pulmonary infiltrates.

Genitourinary

Diuresis has been reported rarely in patients receiving sulfonamides.

Significant reductions in male sperm counts have been reported after 1 month of therapy.

Rare (less than 0.1%): Diuresis
Frequency not reported: Decreased sperm counts

Local

Rare (less than 0.1%): Local reaction, pain, slight irritation

Local reaction, pain, and slight irritation on intravenous administration have been reported infrequently.

Cardiovascular

Rare (less than 0.1%): Thrombophlebitis
Postmarketing reports: QT prolongation resulting in ventricular tachycardia and torsade de pointes

Endocrine

Rare (less than 0.1%): Goiter

Endocrine side effects associated with sulfonamides have rarely included goiter production.

Ocular

Frequency not reported: Conjunctival and scleral injection