Trimethoprim Sulfamethoxazole

Article Author:
Tyler Kemnic
Article Editor:
Meghan Coleman
Updated:
2/14/2019 8:24:37 AM
PubMed Link:
Trimethoprim Sulfamethoxazole

Indications

Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole also known as co-trimoxazole and can be abbreviated in the following ways: SXT, TMP-SMX, TMP-SMZ, or TMP-Sulfa. It is an antibiotic used to treat and prevent many bacterial infections. In 1974, TMP/SMX healthcare professionals began prescribing the medication, and the drug is now on the list of the World Health Organization's (WHO) essential medicines. This drug is very cost affordable and used for many types of illness.[1][2][3][4]

The FDA-Approved Indications

  • Acute infective exacerbation of chronic bronchitis
  • Otitis media in pediatrics only
  • Travelers diarrhea for treatment and prophylaxis
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Shigellosis
  • Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia/Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) both prophylactic and treatment
  • Toxoplasmosis both prophylactic and treatment

The Non-FDA Approved Indications

  • Prophylaxis in HIV-infected individuals
  • Acne vulgaris
  • Listeria
  • Melioidosis
  • Pertussis (whooping cough)
  • Staph aureus infections, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
  • Tuberculosis
  • Whipple disease
  • Isosporiasis
  • Malaria
  • Community-acquired pneumonia

Mechanism of Action

Sulfamethoxazole is a sulfonamide and works directly on the synthesis of folate inside microbial organisms. Sulfamethoxazole achieves this directly as a competitor of p-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) during the synthesis of dihydrofolate. Trimethoprim is a direct competitor of the enzyme dihydrofolate reductase causing it to be inhibited. This halts the production of tetrahydrofolate to its active form of folate. Tetrahydrofolate is needed in the synthesis of purines that are required for DNA and protein production. When the drugs are used alone, they only act in a bacteriostatic manner. However, when used in the combination of sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim they block 2 steps in the bacterial biosynthesis of essential nucleic acids and proteins, thus are bactericidal.

Administration

Sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim may be administered orally without regard to meals, however, is best taken with at least 8 ounces of water. It may also be administered intravenously. The choice of oral or intravenously varies both on the type of infection/or preventative desire. It should not be administered intramuscularly. Patients with renal function must have calculated dosing regiments based on renal function as listed below. The 2 drugs are given in a 1 to 5 ratio as a tablet formulation; this is so when they enter the body their concentration throughout the blood/tissues is 1 to 20. This is the peak synergistic desired effect ratio of the 2 drugs in combination.

Bacterial infections

Oral dosage in adults and children weighing 40 kg (88 pounds) or more should have a single tablet of 800 mg of sulfamethoxazole and 160 mg of trimethoprim every 12 hours for 10 to 14 days. Children 2 months and older must have a weight-adjusted dosage.

Treatment of Pneumocystis jirovecii Pneumonia/ Pneumocystis carinii Pneumonia

Adults/children, 2 months of age and older: The dose is also weight adjusted. Usually 75 to 100 mg per kilogram of body weight of sulfamethoxazole and 15 to 20 mg per kilogram body of body weight of trimethoprim each day for 14 to 21 days.

Prevention of Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia/ pneumocystis carinii pneumonia

In adults, 800 mg of sulfamethoxazole and 160 mg of trimethoprim is given once a day. In children, 2 months of age and older the dosages are determined by body size.

Traveler's Diarrhea

In adults 800 mg of sulfamethoxazole and 160 mg of trimethoprim every 12 hours for 5 days. For children, 2 months and older use and dosage vary.

Chronic Bronchitis

For acute exacerbations due to strains of Streptococcus pneumoniae or Haemophilus influenzae one tablet of 800 mg of sulfamethoxazole and 160 mg of trimethoprim every 12 hours for 10 to 14 days.

Shigellosis

Enteritis caused by Shigella flexneri and Shigella sonnei: 1 tablet 800 mg of sulfamethoxazole and 160 mg of trimethoprim every 12 hours for 5 days.

Urinary Tract Infections

Pyelonephritis

One tablet 800 mg of sulfamethoxazole and 160 mg of trimethoprim every 12 hours for 14 days

Prostatitis

One tablet 800 mg of sulfamethoxazole and 160 mg of trimethoprim every 12 hours for 14 days or 2 to 3 months if a chronic infection

Acne Vulgaris (Non-FDA Approved)

One tablet 800 mg of sulfamethoxazole and 160 mg of trimethoprim every 12 hours for 18 days

Community-Acquired Pneumonia (Non-FDA Approved)

One tablet 800 mg of sulfamethoxazole and 160 mg of trimethoprim every 12 hours for 10 to 14 days

Renal impairment guidelines are as follows:

  • CrCl greater than 30 mL per minute no dose change
  • CrCl 15 to 30 mL per minute decrease dose by 50%
  • CrCl less than 15 do no use

Use is not recommended in children younger than 2 months of age.

Adverse Effects

The primary adverse effects of trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole include rash, photosensitivity, as well as folate deficiency. [5][6][7]A list of side effects are as follows:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Painful or swollen tongue
  • Dizziness
  • Tinnitus
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia

A patient with an unknown sulfa allergy then treated with trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole may experience anaphylaxis or less serious yet severe symptoms such as hives, itchy eyes, swelling of the mouth and/or throat, and abdominal cramping.

Contraindications

Trimethoprim/Sulfamethoxazole Contraindications

  • Known hypersensitivity to either drug or a past sulfa allergy
  • Pregnancy
  • Liver parenchymal damage, jaundice, and hepatic failure
  • Hematological disorders
  • Renal insufficiency 
  • Neonate less than 6 weeks of age

Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole is American pregnancy category D medication. Use during early pregnancy has been related to congenital malformations and maternal folic acid deficiency. This may cause neural tube defects (spina bifida), urinary tract defects, oral clefts, and clubbed feet. Use during late pregnancy has been related to preterm labor. The drug is also excreted in breast milk and patients that are breastfeeding should not use trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole during this time. 

Drugs that trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole should not be taken with are:

  • ACE inhibitors: Risk of hyperkalemia 
  • Prilocaine: Risk of methemoglobinemia
  • Antiarrhythmics: Risk of QT prolongation 
  • Dapsone: Increases plasma levels of both drugs
  • Methenamine: Risk of crystalluria
  • Rifampicin: Risk of reducing trimethoprim plasma levels
  • Sulfonylureas 
  • Phenytoin: Increase in the half-life of phenytoin
  • Antifolates: Risk of megaloblastic anemia
  • Lamivudine, Zalcitabine, and zidovudine
  • Procainamide and/or amantadine 
  • Clozapine
  • Digoxin: Increase in digoxin levels
  • Diuretics: Risk of thrombocytopenia
  • Ciclosporin: Risk of kidney function decline
  • Spironolactone: Risk of hyperkalemia

Monitoring

When a patient is going to be prescribed trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole some patients may need a baseline blood urea nitrogen and serum creatinine ratio, frequent complete blood counts (CBC), and electrolyte measurements if renal impairment is known or if taking a drug that has interactions with potassium.

Toxicity

Overdosing on trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole is possible, and likely signs of toxicity include:

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Mental depression
  • Confusion
  • Thrombocytopenia
  • Uremia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Colic
  • Drowsiness
  • Bone marrow depression

If a patient is suspected to have trimethoprim/sulfamethazine toxicity a treatment plan includes administration of activated charcoal, stomach pumping, and supportive intravenous (IV) and oral fluids. More severe measures of treatment may include hemodialysis and alkalize the patient's urine.

Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes

Healthcare workers like the nurse practitioner, primary care provider and internist who prescribe trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole should be familiar with ints indications and adverse effects. In addition, when a patient is going to be prescribed trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole some patients may need a baseline blood urea nitrogen and serum creatinine ratio, frequent complete blood counts (CBC), and electrolyte measurements if renal impairment is known or if taking a drug that has interactions with potassium.


References

[1] García-Solache M,Rice LB, The Enterococcus: a Model of Adaptability to Its Environment. Clinical microbiology reviews. 2019 Mar 20;     [PubMed PMID: 30700430]
[2] Huang L,Chen X,Xu H,Sun L,Li C,Guo W,Xiang L,Luo G,Cui Y,Lu B, Clinical features, identification, antimicrobial resistance patterns of Nocardia species in China: 2009-2017. Diagnostic microbiology and infectious disease. 2018 Dec 29;     [PubMed PMID: 30679058]
[3] Krooks J,Weatherall A,Markowitz S, Complete Resolution of {i}Mycobacterium marinum{/i} Infection with Clarithromycin and Ethambutol: A Case Report and a Review of the Literature. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology. 2018 Dec;     [PubMed PMID: 30666280]
[4] She WH,Chok KSH,Li IWS,Ma KW,Sin SL,Dai WC,Fung JYY,Lo CM, Pneumocystis jirovecii-related spontaneous pneumothorax, pneumomediastinum and subcutaneous emphysema in a liver transplant recipient: a case report. BMC infectious diseases. 2019 Jan 18;     [PubMed PMID: 30658592]
[5] McGee M,Brienesse S,Chong B,Levendel A,Lai K, {i}Tropheryma whipplei{/i} Endocarditis: Case Presentation and Review of the Literature. Open forum infectious diseases. 2019 Jan;     [PubMed PMID: 30648125]
[6] Hanlon JT,Perera S,Drinka PJ,Crnich CJ,Schweon SJ,Klein-Fedyshin M,Wessel CB,Saracco S,Anderson G,Mulligan M,Nace DA, The IOU Consensus Recommendations for Empirical Therapy of Cystitis in Nursing Home Residents. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2018 Dec 24;     [PubMed PMID: 30584657]
[7] Gallardo-Cartagena JA,Chiappe-Gonzalez AJ,Astocondor-Salazar LM,Salazar-Mesones BN,Narcizo Susanibar JA,Cucho-Espinoza C,Huaroto-Valdivia LM,Ticona-Chávez ER, [Vibrio cholerae NO-O1/NO-O139 bacteremia in a cirrhotic patient. First case report in Peru and literatura review]. Revista de gastroenterologia del Peru : organo oficial de la Sociedad de Gastroenterologia del Peru. 2018 Jul-Sep;     [PubMed PMID: 30540737]