Sulfonamides, often just referred to as sulfa drugs, are a group of drugs that were originally designed to treat infections caused by bacteria and certain fungi. Today, relatively few antibiotics given contain sulfa due to the potential for causing severe drug side effects and its reduced effectiveness.
- ear infections
- traveler’s diarrhea
- nocardia infection
- bacterial meningitis
- bacterial pneumonia
- certain eye infections
An ointment containing silver sulfadiazine, a type of sulfa drug, is widely used to prevent or treat burn related bacterial skin infections. And sulfonamides do not effectively treat a cold, flu and other infections caused by a virus.
Because of potential for sulfa allergies, drugs containing sulfonamides should only be prescribed when necessary and with extreme caution. Although a sulfa drug allergy is considered rare, a reaction to sulfonamides can be life threatening.
The most common symptoms of a sulfonamides allergic reaction is a rash, hives and severe sunburn with a brief exposure. Yet, a far more dangerous reaction can occur, so you need to contact your health care professional ASAP should you experience any of sulfa allergy symptoms, including:
- puffy eyes
- sore throat
- face swelling
- erythema nodosum
- erythema multiforme
- reddish, purplish skin spots
- skin problems ~ mouth, eyes, anus blistering, peeling
And if you’ve had an allergic reaction to one type of sulfonamide, then taking any other type of sulfa drug probably will cause sulfa allergy symptoms as well.
Additional health problems can result from taking drugs containing sulfa, for instance:
- kidney stones
- Lyell syndrome
- hemolytic anemia
- severe liver damage
- serious blood problems
- Stevens-Johnson syndrome
- breakdown of outer skin layer
You should be given specific instructions from you health care provider or pharmacists on how to use this drug. And following those instructions is imperative.
Sulfa drugs can have a negative interaction with many of other drugs. Therefore, full disclosure to your prescribing health care provider as to all prescription and OTC medications you take routinely is critical.