Most forms of bacteria do not cause harm. Those causing infections are only a small percentage of these microbes. It is estimated that as low of 1% or even less of all bacterial-forms trigger infections or adverse medical conditions. Infections caused by bacteria often spread through air – i.e., when you sneeze or cough, and also through physical touch. Antibiotics are essentially antibacterial medications, taken for arresting the further spread of harmful bacteria. Among the various types of antibiotics, a unique combination of two antibacterial drugs can offer a wide range of benefits. One such combination of antibiotics is sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim. This blended composition of antibiotics does have a few side effects. But, the range of treatment this combination offers outweighs its side effects. It is however important to know what these side effects are.
The two antibacterial drugs in this combination – i.e., sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim – are known for their unique capabilities. Sulfamethoxazole can treat a range of infections caused by bacteria, including a specific variant of pneumonia among people with impaired immunity levels. On the other hand, trimethoprim is an antibiotic used in the treatment of bacterial attacks. Both these drugs help arrest further spread and multiplication of the microbe. It is found to be effective in treating middle-ear infections, respiratory conditions like bronchitis, infections in your urinary tract as well as infections in the intestines triggered by microbes. This combination however may have very limited or no effect on viral infections.
The dosage of this combination depends on your bodyweight, clinical condition as well as how well your body responds to this drug. The medication is usually injected into one of your veins by a qualified medical professional. You may need to allow at least an hour for it to start working. It is recommended to complete the full course of this medication; this is because discontinuation of this drug in the middle may trigger a relapse of bacterial infections. Similarly, the prescribed course of this drug needs to be completed in-full even though the symptoms disappear.
Side effects of Sulfamethoxazole / Trimethoprim
Most common side effects of this drug are discomforts at the site of injection, decreased appetite as well as abdominal problems such as diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. These discomforts may go off after a few days. But, if you witness these effects persisting for a longer time, you need to talk to your treating physician and pharmacist.
Acute side effects –
A majority of people to whom this drug has been administered has reported no major or acute side effects. But, if you experience symptoms such as altered output of urine or other likely renal problems, you are advised to talk to your treating doctor. Also, if you witness signs such as a drop in blood sugar level – characterised by arrhythmia, blurring of eyesight, feeling dizzy, etc. – you are advised to inform your physician about these signs. In very remote cases, people have reported mood shifts as well as weakness. You are advised to take needful medical attention if you experience these changes.
Serious but rare side effects
In extremely rare instances, a few people have reported muscular stiffness, epileptic fits, slower or erratic heartbeats as well as chronic headaches. Those who have allergies to this drug may develop rashes on skin, anemic conditions or other blood related disorders. Allergies may also lead to lung or hepatic repair. It is highly recommended to take needful medical support as soon as you experience any of these symptoms.
After discontinuing this drug, in very rare instances, one may encounter acute infections in the intestine. This is attributed to a microbial strand known as Clostridium difficle. This strand may trigger a spell of diarrhea which is likely to become persistent. Self-medication with anti-diarrhea drugs or opioid-drugs may only be counterproductive. As a related development, you are likely to experience cramping of abdominal muscles, traces of mucus or blood in stools, etc. You also may need to note that a long term use of this combinatorial drug can lead to yeast formation. You may also develop patches (white-colored) in your mouth or oral thrushes. It is highly recommended to consult a qualified medical practitioner if you experience any of these aforesaid symptoms.
If you are living in the US, you need to talk to food and drug administration (FDA), to explain the side effects this drug has triggered. If you are a resident of Canada, you can get in touch with Health Canada and inform about these reactions and allergies.
Precautions needed prior to taking Sulfamethoxazole / Trimethoprim
In order to prevent any likely dosage problems as well as to enhance the efficacy of this drug, you are advised to adhere to regular timeslots for taking it. Provision of needful intervals can help to optimize the therapeutic properties of this combinatorial medicine.
Prior medical conditions your doctor needs to be kept informed
Before starting a course of this combinatorial medication, you need to inform the treating physician about your clinical history as well as your family’s medical history. If you have had prior episodes of liver problems, renal dysfunction, blood-related disorders such as anemia triggered by deficiency of folate-vitamins, etc. you need to inform your doctor about them. In general, your doctor may recommend intake of additional amounts of water or fluids. This can help avoid risks of internal blockages or formation of stones in your kidneys. People who are living with conditions such as hypothyroidism (sub-optimally active thyroid gland), skewed presence of salts such as potassium, respiratory conditions (including bronchitis, asthma, etc.) or metabolic syndrome will need to tell their treating physician about any such prior or present medical conditions.
Allergies to inactive chemicals present in this drug
Some people who have allergies to a few inactive substances in this drug may witness adverse reactions. You need to know that some manufacturers of this drug may add inactive items such as propylene glycol or benzyl compounds. These inactive chemicals may at times trigger adverse reactions in your system. If you need more clarifications about the likely risks, it is a good practice to talk to the pharmacist.
Likely interactions with other drugs
This drug can interact adversely with vaccines administered for bacterial infections – especially conditions such as typhoid. Hence, if you are planning to take a shot of vaccination, you are advised not to take such immunity boosters during the course of this medication plan. This medication may interact with a few other drugs. Hence, it is recommended to tell your treating physician and pharmacist about the drugs you are currently taking. For the same reason, you are not advised to start taking new drugs or discontinue intake of other drugs without taking the consent of your treating doctor. As this drug can interact with blood thinning drugs such as warfarin, your doctor needs to know if you are taking such medicines. This drug may trigger adverse effects interacting with medications used for treating infections in your urinary tract – especially, drugs such as methenamine. It may also work adversely with medications like methotrexate (taken for cancer treatment as well as other autoimmune conditions like arthritis). You need to note such drugs used for treating a few types of autoimmune conditions are known as antimetabolites. You are also advised to tell your pharmacist if you are taking drugs to regulate heartbeats; mainly, if you are experiencing faster or erratic heartbeats. Moreover, this antibacterial drug is likely to interact with reagents used in a few diagnostic tests. Hence, it is important to share details about your current medication plan with the medical team at lab.
Pregnant women and breastfeeding women
Women who are planning to get pregnant as well as women who are already pregnant need to inform about their condition to the doctor. Doses of this drug are not recommended to women who are already pregnant. Also, if your pregnancy is at a fairly advanced stage, a dosage of this drug may trigger congenital conditions to the baby inside the womb. Women who are nursing a baby need to be more careful with these doses because this drug can pass through mother’s milk. If your baby is already unwell with conditions like high bilirubin levels, jaundice, etc., such breastmilk can do more harm by worsening such conditions. So, if you are nursing a baby, you are advised to talk to your doctor prior to starting a medication plan.
Other safety measures
If you are living with diabetes, it is highly recommended to monitor your blood sugar levels periodically. It is required as this drug can alter glucose levels in your blood. As an added safety measure, you need to inform your doctor about pre-existing conditions like diabetes, insulin sensitivity or low levels of blood sugar even prior to starting the doses.
This drug can make your skin turn extra sensitive to sunlight. Hence, you are advised to step out of your home wearing needful sun protection screen. It is also a good practice to sport suitable clothes that can help avoid excessive exposure to sun. Elderly people are likely to be excessively sensitive to this medication. Among old people, doses can result in bruises, internal bleeding and other blood related disorders. Such patients may also experience rashes or other skin allergies. In a few cases, elderly patients have reported a pronounced level of potassium in blood. In such cases, it is a good practice to check potassium levels in a routine manner.
Likely risks of an overdose
If you have taken an overdose of this antibacterial drug, you may experience signs such as excessive levels of drowsiness, severe dizziness, breathing problems, passing out, etc. Other signs of an overdose include persistent episode of diarrhea, mood shifts including depression, suicidal thoughts, etc. Upon witnessing any of these symptoms, you are advised to call 911 immediately. If you are living in the US, you can also call the nearest poison control center. On the other hand, if you are a Canadian resident – you can either call Health Canada or a poison control center located in your province.
In general, never give or share this drug with other people. Also, stay away from using it for other infections without consulting your doctor. Risks of overdosing may occur when you have skipped a few doses. In such an instance, get in touch with your physician or pharmacist to create a new dosage regimen. Always remember that the common side effects of this drug include reduced appetite, abdominal discomforts such as nausea and vomiting. Such side effects mostly go away in a few days. But, if they persist for a longer term, consult your physician and pharmacist immediately. Also, if you experience signs that indicate a likely kidney problem or renal disorder (like, changes in urine output or discoloration of urine) you need to get in touch with your treating doctor or pharmacist on an emergency basis. Those with low levels of blood sugars are advised to tell the doctor if they witness faster heartbeats, blurred eyesight, dizziness or drowsiness. In highly remote instances, some people have experienced mood-related conditions such as depression. You are advised to take needful medical attention if you witness any of the above signs. Last but not least, keep this drug far from the reach of pets and children.