In June of 2009 we answered the following question about the antibiotic clindamycin:
“Q. For an abscessed tooth, I was given a prescription antibiotic called clindamycin. Ever since I took it, I have had unremitting diarrhea. Now my dentist wants me to see a gastroenterologist. Is there anything else I can do before going to a specialist?”
We recommended that this person see a gastroenterologist immediately since clindamycin can trigger dangerous diarrhea. It allows bad bacteria called Clostridium difficile (C. diff.) to get the upper hand in the digestive tract. Left untreated, this infection can be extremely serious, even fatal.
In November of 2009 the FDA published its most stringent caution, a boxed warning:
• Clostridium difficile associated diarrhea (CDAD) has been reported with use of nearly all antibacterial agents, including Cleocin HCL and may range in severity from mild diarrhea to fatal colitis. Treatment with antibacterial agents alters the normal flora of the colon leading to overgrowth of C.difficle
• C.difficile produces toxins A and B which contribute to the development of CDAD. Hypertoxin producing strains of C. difficile cause increased morbidity and mortality, as these infections can be refractory to antimicrobial therapy and may require colectomy. CDAD must be considered in all patients who present with diarrhea following antibiotic use. Careful medical history is necessary since CDAD has been reported to occur over two months after the administration of antibacterial agents.


Since then, many visitors to this site have reported serious digestive tract complications following their use of clindamycin. Here are just a few. Please report your own experience below in the comment section so that we can alert the FDA to ongoing problems associated with clindamycin.


“I was prescribed clindamycin for an infected tooth that required a root canal. The clindamycin worked for the infection, but 10 days later I had diarrhea. I went to my doctor, who said that this was a side effect of this antibiotic. He thinks it is the worst antibiotic to take. Who knew? I was tested for C diff colitis and was positive, so I was put on a different antibiotic.
I am now trying to recover. If you have any symptoms after taking this med, please get tested. It is crazy that this happens.”
BB
Nov. 9, 2010


I had a wisdom tooth extraction in mid-November 2010. There was really nothing wrong with the tooth itself, but it created a cavity in the tooth next to it. So my dentist took it out to be able to fill that cavity.
She was concerned that the extraction area might become infected and prescribed clindamycin (56 pills). It took me just about a week (6 or 7 days) to finish the specified course. I had no side effects during the course.
A couple days after finishing the last dose, however, I developed a rash all over my upper body. After a couple days I developed intense diarrhea. This diarrhea was unlike anything I’ve experienced before in my entire life and lasted for 6 days.
I went to the ER and told them that I took this anti-biotic. They said that that’s what caused the diarrhea. I went on a diet of dry foods, yogurt, and probiotics. After the diarrhea stopped, I still didn’t feel quite like I did before taking clindamycin. I had bloating and my colon was still feeling as if I was having diarrhea, although there was no actual diarrhea.
Now, over a month after the diarrhea finished, I’m still not completely well. When I go to the bathroom, the stool is not normal. Has anyone else experienced similar side effects? How long did they last?
AD
Jan. 3, 2011

Join Over 53,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

Each week we send two free email newsletters with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies and a preview of our award-winning radio show. Join our mailing list and get the information you need to make confident choices about your health.

  1. Bakersdozen12
    Reply

    I was given a dose of clindamycin before having oral surgery to remove two wisdom teeth. I had been dreading the procedure for weeks because I had never been put to sleep before. Little did I know it was the aftermath that I should have feared. I developed diarrhea two days later, which eventually became so severe that, after going to the bathroom, I would have intestinal pain for about 5 minutes afterwards. I’m talking pain that would leave me either screaming or crying. When I realized it wasn’t going away on it’s own and I couldn’t take it anymore, I ended up at an urgent care and was sent from there to the hospital. I was eventually diagnosed with colitis. After weeks of endless doctor appointments and tests, it was determined that the clindamycin was the cause and I have been told that I should never take it again. Not that I ever would. I’ve never been so sick in all my life and wouldn’t wish that on anyone, even my worst enemy.

  2. Mary
    South
    Reply

    I’m really worried after reading these comments…I was looking for info on Clostridium Difficile since that condition was mentioned as a side effect of taking Clindamycin.

    I’ve had diarrhea during the taking of Clindamycin 300mg for 7 days and I’ve continued to have it since I finished the 7days…4 days now.

    I was given Clindamycin after foot surgery (Bunion)…..because @ my 1st ck up 4 days after surgery the incision looked red. At next ck up @ 11 days after surgery, the redness of the foot incision had cleared up but I still had diarrhea….which is my problem now. I just feel punk, no energy and I’m usually not that way.

    I don’t know why my Podiatrist chose Clindamycin, maybe because I’m allergic to Penicillin? I would have asked for something else if I had this info!

    And Clindamycin comes in different dosages 150mg and 300mg …….so I’m also concerned about the higher dosage that I took. I’m taking a probiotic on my own and eating yogurt so I’m hoping the diarrhea will clear up. The postings on this site makes it imperative to keep an eye on any ongoing diarrhea. Thanks to all the posters who took the time to write about their experience with Clindamycin!

  3. ruth
    Reply

    I have had my first 3 doses yesterday which I take with a probiotic and a full cup of water. I will update this post as it goes. I am taking this antibiotic for a root canal and then extraction with a temp bridge stuck over the extraction. Had throbbing for one week. The throbbing has stopped.

    • ruth
      Reply

      I wanted to add that I am taking 150 mg 3x/day and I have not taken any medication in over a decade. I try to be a good holistic gal (I’m 52)! I am feeling a bit anxious after reading the possible side effects. Thank you all for being candid. These posts have provided some real insight, and now I know what symptoms to be concerned about.

  4. nadia
    United States
    Reply

    Horrible side effects. I wish I had known about them before I took it.

  5. sherry hanley
    medicine hat alberta
    Reply

    My husband was put on clindamyicin for a tooth infection. They phoned his dr. to see if clindamycin was ok for him. They never asked if someone in the family has Crohns disease. A C. diff infection could be fatal for me. But his tooth infection is doing fine. Thanks!! If this drug is so bad why is it on the market? C diff is worse then a bad tooth.

    • Terry Graedon
      Reply

      Even though clindamycin can make people susceptible to C. diff infections, the majority of those who take it do fine, recover from their infections and don’t comment on this web site. We agree, however, that prescribers should be cautious about using it only when it is really necessary.

  6. anya
    rancho santa fe,ca
    Reply

    My story started in May, 2014. Dentist prescribed clindamycin for a bad root canal and after 7 days of taking it I have came down with c-diff. Since then, I have been hospitalized twice and was put on vancomycin (a very expensive antibiotic), probiotics, and all the live bacteria foods that are known, and nothing helps. I have a reoccurrence of c-diff. Two days ago I underwent a procedure called FMT: fecal microbiota transfer. I hope this will help, but not sure. It has been an nightmare. I think doctors should not prescribe this harming drug. It should be banned.

    • a
      California
      Reply

      Was prescribed Clindamycin by my Oral Surgeon after a normal tooth extraction. It became a little infected and had a small pass pocket in the gum area. After he cleared out the puss pocket he prescribed me to go on Clindamycin , I should note here the Oral Surgeon did also recommend a daily probiotics to take along with this medication which I did do for 10 days every day for the full duration of the medication and also an additional 10 days afterwards as well. However, I had no idea what it was or that I would contract C Diff after taking that antibiotic, which I wasn’t even on that long and the dosage was very very low. 2 Weeks after my tooth healed up and was feeling fine, I am a very active person. I started have very loose stools and it was very bad smelling as well, so I went to my regular MD, and was tested for C diff and tested positive. I am on now on my 2nd round of Flagyl ( This stuff will basically KILL everything inside your gut area). Who knew that my taking one antibiotic would lead to me now taking another one twice no less! I have also heard of Vancomycin as well for treatment but it’s got its own set of side effects and it also can be for some very expensive.

  7. Lynn
    Reply

    Get unpasteurized miso, any brand, the darker the better. I put leftover rice in a cup, add 1 serving of miso, mush it up into the rice, then add hot water to the cup and stir. Heat the water in a tea kettle until it whistles. Do not boil or simmer miso, it kills the probiotic organisms.
    The serving sizes differ by brand. However, it must be unpasteurized. The salt content is what I don’t like, but it sure works! I am normal when eating miso once or twice a day as above. However, probiotics are still part of my diet.
    Good Luck KC!

  8. KC
    Reply

    I was put on Clindamycin in June 2014, 300mg 4xs a day. Dentist prescribed, got infection in tooth under bridge &she did root canal. I am extremely healthy &exercise, never sick. Early August the diarrhea & stomach pain began. Just did stool sample 8/6/14. I went to Health food store, started on Probiotic 10 & somewhat BRAT diet. In such pain today internal med doctor prescribed Metronidazole (?Flagyl) so I would not be deathly sick over weekend. I am leery to take but read to keep up the probiotic 2 hours after.
    I want to keep the the good bacteria as much as I can. Time will tell but this is very bad. Any other suggestions? Also getting headaches. I am drinking fluids & believe Coconut water is better than the Gatorade with so much junk in it. I weigh very little as it is, cannot loose any weight (7 lbs to date).

    • VS
      Reply

      This is exactly me! My doctor gave me the flagyl after I had terrible diarrhea with the clindamycin and I don’t wanna take it after looking up the side effects with the new one especially because I’m getting my wisdom teeth out tomorrow.

      He also told me to drink Gatorade which is terrible for you and I even asked him if there are other alternatives and he said just get Gatorade. I went to the health store anyways and explained and they gave me capsules of electrolytes as well as electrolyte water so don’t think sugary gross stuff is the only way to go.

      I have also been on probiotics and the only thing that really seems to help a little bit soon after is when I take shots of Braggs Apple cider vinegar, which is so disgusting but I make myself because I know it’s so good for you.. I just wanna cry reading that people’s stomachs are ruined for years after taking this and it almost makes me mad at myself for not looking this up before taking, being a holistic healthy girl and all.. This should not be given for minor infections!!

  9. jpo
    Reply

    I read this forum often and occasionally post if I think there is something I can contribute. I’ve just recently had my second recurrence of C.diff. Don’t know if I picked up the bacteria somewhere or if I am colonized and tested positive as a result. I’ve not taken antibiotics in two years, my last recurrence. I recently read a publication on the Cleveland Clinic website concerning extracolonic manifestations. This is of particular interest because when I had an infection in 2012 I was treated thereafter for “gout”. This July, when I was again treated for a recurrence again I have been treated for gout. I now wonder if what I have is reactive arthritis, as described in the Cleveland Clinic publication as an “extracolonic manifestation”.

  10. DL
    Reply

    As a post-extraction precaution my dentist prescribed Clindamycin 300mg 4xs per day. I took it for two days and noticed stomach issues. I discontinued the med but my stomach is still not in order after 4 days of not using it. I’m trying to use BRAT diet, probiotic drinks (Kevita, Kombucha) as well as Kefir and yogurt. I’m so bummed out that my dentist prescribed this med and wonder what the correct next steps to take are. I think more people need to be informed about this horrible drug and I wonder how long this terror could go on!

  11. csc
    Reply

    3 Months later and I am still not normal from the same antibiotic. Had stool checked for C-dif. Checked out negative gratefully, though don’t know where this is headed. Next stop will be a colonoscopy.

  12. Liz M.
    Reply

    I was prescribed Clindamycin for an abscessed tooth. 3 days into the meds, the diarrhea started~I had been eating yogurt along side the drug, as the dentist suggested. Kept up with the antibiotic until I could stand it no longer and after much reading the effects of this drug, I weaned myself off it. However the diarrhea and abdominal pain were with me for 14 days. My doctor now has me on Flagyl and the symptoms have subsided. Not out of the woods yet as I understand c-diff. is very difficult to treat. This drug needs to be BANNED.

  13. E MORRISON
    Reply

    Well what can I tell you about this drug because everyone basically says what I’ve been through!
    Given this preop for removal of inverted infected wisdom tooth on the 31st march 2014 op was 8th April. All went well however 4 days later I had to call dentist who yet again decided to use this stuff. On the 16th April, boy was I ill and came off them [advice given by pharmacist]. From then to to-day I’ve had severe cramps in stomach and all food seems to be lying higher up that’s when of course I can feel like eating.
    I took a course of high potency pro biotics bad must say I found no benefit in doing so and they were very costly. Last week I visited pharmacy and spent yet another fortune. I was given anti fungul treatments because flagyl caused thrush in mouth have tried to get app with doctor for this Monday come and can only hope that I get one and soon.
    Like other people’s comments this drug should not be given by dentists as they are unaware of your medical conditions and if you use a national health g.p and a private dentist both don’t know whats what—dangerous do you not think?
    My advice to anyone ask do I really need this?
    is there no other milder antibiotic that can be given? Does your dentist know if it interacts with other medication that you are taking?
    Good luck if you do take it but I think this is a very big issue and needs investigating.

  14. Lynndee
    Reply

    Unpasteurized & Organic Miso: in a cup with 1 teaspoon miso dissolved in hot water. You can add a bit of leftover rice to make it more palatable. If on the go, mix the 1-tsp miso with peanut butter and eat from the spoon or on a cracker.
    Never boil or simmer miso, and it must be unpasteurized. Organic is up to you, but I prefer it. The sodium content may prohibit some from using it. The brand I use has 9% of daily intake in One Teaspoon — but 2 teaspoons a day works surprisingly well for me (sometimes 3).
    After adding miso to my diet, I am “normal” 99% of the time. Miso & probiotics works for me. That said, I am not a big fan of the taste straight from the container, but it can be added to any food, sauce, dressing, soup, stew, etc. I use the red miso, or darker miso.
    Clindamycin prescribed in 2009 was the problem for me — it took care of the infection from a root canal (the last of six root canals) — but left my gut in a mess.

  15. AR
    Reply

    Happy for you and hope your progress towards health stays on course!
    People have to make decisions using all experiences mentioned and need to read the side effects particularly the one that mentions “rarely fatal”, before deciding for themselves. Do you want responsibility for the side effects others must endure
    “Winging and getting a grip on” is derogatory, bullying, and unnecessary language towards people sharing and seeking help with adverse side effects. There doesn’t appear to be any entry that ridicules people who choose antibiotics, just people sharing their ill effects and kindly warning others to decide with all the facts. Clearly that is the best way.

  16. Sue
    Reply

    Hi to all those still a little undecided about taking Clindamycin. I was hospitalised from January to end of March 2014, for Septicaemia. I was in an induced coma as my vital organs were shutting down. I had lines in my arms, down my neck up my nose………you name it. They had me on 3 different antibiotics intravenously (IVI).
    The one that ultimately saved my life was Clinamycin. I was on the IVI for over 2 months & on the capsules to take home. I have been taking the capsules since March & am still taking them now in June. Yes, they are miserably uncomfortable if you don’t take enough fluids with them, because they cause burning in your gullet like you’ll probably never experience again………excruciating!!! I now chew some bread after each one & no longer have the burning.
    When people complain about side effects, yes, most antibiotics have side effects, and yes, this one more so than others. I had a nasty red rash on the tops of both feet, my appetite is poor & my taste buds don’t allow me to enjoy the full flavour of my food. The people who whinge & decide to stop taking them, need to get a grip & get on with it. This drug saved my life, & much as I hate taking them, I know that until my blood tests reveal that the bacteria is finally killed off, I will go on taking them.

  17. Minky
    Reply

    I forgot to mention I am taking 300 mg twice a day for 7 days.

  18. Minky
    Reply

    I was given this drug on Friday (May 23, 2014) for bacterial vaginosis. I went to Patient First and the doctor gave me something stronger because I just had the same issues a couple months ago. It is now 10:13 pm on May 28, 2014 and I have been experiencing watery diarrhea since 5 pm this evening. This is my forth time on the toilet. Luckily there’s a hospital across the street from me. I am thinking about heading over there to be examined.

  19. D.M.B
    Reply

    I also have been taking clindamyacin for my teeth I’m now in horrible pain in the b room allay with diarrhea time to see a doc again for their treatment was unacceptable

  20. Annie
    Reply

    I just wanted to mention my personal experience with Clindamycin and C-diff. In the mid 1980’s I had an infection on my cervix. I took a 10 day supply of Clindamycin and I experienced diarrhea for over 6 weeks. In the course of the 6 weeks my health deteriorated so mucht o the point I was hospitalized and was given the last ditch antibiotic Vancomycin, which at that time I was told if the medicine did not work for me there was nothing else that could be done. Thankfully it worked. I was in my 20’s at that time.
    I avoided clindamycin on just a few occasions it was offered over the next 25 years. However I did have an experience with a staphylococcus infection introduced at the time of surgery while giving a bone marrow donation in the early 1990’s. The result was a deep infection at the sites of incision, that was coupled with the use of the “wrong bandaid” literally. I was not given a pressure bandage and the site of incision quickly made a scab, but the internal bleeding was undetected and I left the hospital and returned home, as I lived in a different city. I ended up bleeding half of my blood into my lower back. It took over two years to get completely better from all of that.
    Until recently I had not really thought much about that history in terms of my health. I am 52 years old. Last year I had two root canals and the dentist prescribed Cleocin. I did not know it was clindamycin. I took three pills and instantly recognized how I was feeling and that prompted me to look up the drug. To my horror, I realized the drug and the symptoms I had in the 1980’s.
    I immediately told the dentist, who told me to call my doctor about the diarrhea. I asked for a different antibiotic as the tooth was infected already which was why I went to the dentist in the first place. I hate the dentist and have an abnormal fear of going. So when I had a toothache I couldn’t handle I went in. The endodontist said I didn’t need anything else. I was uncomfortable with that thought, however I certainly didn’t want to make things worse. The diarrhea did not go away.
    It went on over two weeks and my doctor became concerned about the dehydration effects, combined with the extreme heat of the Mojave desert area I live in, and my constant sweating and general ill feeling and inability to even eat, and prescribed Lomotil to stop the effect and to prevent further problems from diarrhea.
    Right about the same time I got what I thought was a pimple on my butt cheek. It was very sore and wouldn’t go away. It felt very painful and soon there were three or four of them, each would drain and scab over, but the scab would always come off when bathing, and I tried to figure out what I had, at one point the pain of the general area of the one butt cheek caused a fever and I thought it was shingles, though it didn’t resemble any photographs. My doctors office is 70 miles away, I called and was told to go to the ER. The ER doctor looked at the sores and immediately identified it as a MRSA skin infection. He also gave me some pain pills but felt I should not have any antibiotics, given the recent history with the dentist.
    I felt like I had infection in my body. I also tried various things to treat the sores to cover the wounds that made them worse, I tried Muprocin that made the sores worse, and the small sore would finally disappear and immediately after another would appear. It went on for the past year, and seldom have I had any period over a week without reoccurring sore. It then spread to the other butt cheek, in the exact same area.
    The irony was when ever I got in to see my doctor the sores never looked that bad. So it was difficult to show her how bad it looked and felt. (I started to take pictures in between visits) But I also noticed every single pimple or hangnail or cut or scratch would always get infected. Very infected.
    My doctor and I had many discussions and my doctor feels the dental surgery brought the MRSA out of dormancy, the clindamycin was probably the ultimate cause, as I had staphylococcus prior and the actual term MRSA was never used way back when I had the two previous staphylococcus related conditions. I have noticed a specific correlation to when a new sore appears I get pain in the corresponding lymph node immediately prior.
    I have been slightly weakened in my immune system since I was a teen with Mononucleosis, and while I didn’t get sick often, when I did I was very sick. As I grew older towards the present time in my life I also have noticed the airborne viruses I seem to get very easy. I also in the past have problems with flu vaccines, and was advised years ago I am among the small percentage of people who should not get flu vaccines (in the PAST).
    In 2009 I had the Swine Flu, which was introduced to my husbands company at a mandatory “all hands” meeting. One person infected 80 others. I still was apprehensive to get vaccines, and my husband has indeed gotten vaccinated every year. In Nov. 2013 we both had the Influenza A (I think was the name) and he had been vaccinated I had not.
    My doctor and I both feel that I should indeed get vaccinated, and I will. I don’t think I could live through another bad flu.
    Ultimately I feel that the clindamycin has added to my weakened immune system years ago, but I was not aware that the condition the clindamycin caused and the surgical MRSA I had was in a dormant state. I thought I had it and it was gone. Since I have now learned it can remain dormant, and its taken a year, but the infections have finally slowed down enough, to not cause me constant pain on a daily basis.
    However, I am in need of more dental work, root canals and a deep gum cleaning, which I am very concerned will cause me more infection. I would have gladly just done all the dental work at one time, but I was forced to wait until this year for the dental coverage to start again in Jan and have put off until I can save enough to pay the additional amounts that are anticipated.
    I am now quite worried about the whole MRSA and C-diff situation. I am confident in my doctor’s ability to treat any infections, however, when a dentist does work, they are the ones who have to prescribe the antibiotics, which I was advised by my doctor, in other words until I have an infection she cannot just arbitrarily prescribe any antibiotic. A sort of catch 22 based upon malpractice insurance requirements. My doctor can in essence clean up the mess so to speak, but the problem is that any antibiotic at this point is a potential problem. This is why the MRSA skin sores haven’t yet been treated with stronger antibiotics.
    Anyway, sorry for the lengthy comments, but I had not noticed any one else’s comments regarding the condition of staphylococcus, C-diff, or MRSA problems being dormant and then resurfacing. I would like to add, last year PRIOR to the dental work, I had normal pap smear, and a small mass near my breast for over 10 years unchanged, have just recently been diagnosed as larger and is now painful, and my pap smear has abnormal “A typical” Cells, but not HPV. So what ever the cause, it seems that ever since the dentist and the clindamycin, my health is starting to go downhill.
    I honestly was quite embarrassed about having a sore on my butt cheek, I felt like somehow I was not being clean enough, and began an exaggerated cleanliness mode, which helps to try not to spread it, but the constant bathing, did not help, because the flat scabs would just come off when drying or washing with a cloth. So I started to air dry and use alcohol to try to dry it out. I have a scar in the shape of a large 0 on my cheek, from the continual sores, so even though my doctor didn’t see each and every sore she can see that there is scarring.
    I am unsure if all of the above information is even relevant, but I figured I would share on the outside chance it might help someone else grasp some of the symptoms and to alert others that the condition can remain dormant for 20+ years and make a nasty return.
    Also for anyone having to take Vancomycin, when I had to take it for weeks, at that time it was in liquid form only and was the most foul tasting thing I have ever tasted. In 1982 it cost $350 per prescription, that was how much my rent was. I had to get it three times. I am hoping I don’t have to repeat that, but I am also trying to find some sort of pro active measures to sort of boost my general health in anticipation of the expected dental work and infection I am quite sure I already have in the teeth.
    ~A

  21. jpo
    Reply

    Heather, having read all the comments, did you note my reply to Niki above. I also had diarrhea resulting in pseudomembranous colitis. Please try the suggestions.
    jpo

  22. Heather
    Reply

    Last summer I was prescribed Clindamycin for an infected tooth and after taking it for a couple of days I ended up with diarrhea. Now 8-9 months later I STILL have diarrhea. Every time I eat it’s almost instant that I have to run to the bathroom. This is embarrassing to say but now I’m afraid to even pass gas most of the time in fear that I might mess myself, I say that from experience, that’s why I’m afraid now. I just thought maybe I had developed IBS but from reading all the comments, I don’t think that now.

  23. CJB
    Reply

    If I were you I would stop taking this drug. Why was it prescribed? There are other less dangerous antibiotics. Dr. Sidney Wolfe from Public Citizen has been trying to get stronger warning labels on clindamycin since 1975. I developed clostridium difficile after my doctor prescribed this for me. I wish I had never taken it.

What Do You Think?

Share your thoughts with others, but be mindful of protecting your own and others' privacy. Not all comments will be posted. Advice from web visitors is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. In posting a comment, you agree to our commenting policy and website terms and conditions.