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.”
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?
Jan. 3, 2011

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  1. Jennifer

    I’m 32, healthy, eat well, never had issues like this before. A wisdom tooth decided to grow in during my 30s. I guess it took me this long to get wise!

    I was on vacation and it got infected, so I did what everybody does: borrow leftover antibiotics from family, then go on an emergency dentist trip.

    The dentist wanted to stick with the same antibiotic – clindamycin – that I had already started taking, but made sure to let me know that it was really strong and that if I got diarrhea I should stop taking it. He also recommended eating lots of yogurt and taking probiotics, which I did.

    I remember now, so clearly, the look of surprise on his face when I showed him the bottle. He asked me how I had been feeling, and maybe because the antibiotics were pretty old, they didn’t affect me like the new ones. I had been taking them for a few days and felt perfectly fine.

    I had mild diarrhea during the course of the new antibiotics, but it started to get worse and my infection had cleared up, so I quit taking them probably halfway through the course. I was okay for about a week and then I started having severe diarrhea every single day, coupled with cramps, bloating, gas and absolute pain. I wake up in pain. I go to the bathroom immediately and my stomach just writhes.

    I thought it was caused by drinking the tap water in Arizona because it tastes like junk, so I got bottled water and I felt better for that day and got my hopes all up, but it has definitely not gone away.

    It’s been 9 days of diarrhea now, and on a whim, I thought to look into the antibiotic. I cannot believe what I’m reading.

    I’m terrified to deal with this for the rest of my life. My quality of life has greatly diminished. I’ve spent my vacation in bathrooms. I am scared to make plans. I had a helicopter ride planned, and didn’t go.

    The worst part is I just lost my job, and my insurance with it. I’m thinking up ways to scam the ER… dress up homeless?

    I go home in a few days, and I guess I’m taking a new friend with me. Big D.

  2. LS

    I’m currently 14 years old and after an abscess on my tooth, I was prescribed clindamycin 300mg, 4 times a day (28 pills). I took the pills alternating with probiotics every 6 hour interval. After around a week, I developed mild dihareea. I continued to take probiotics 3-4 times a week. I currently am suffering from severe, extremely watery dihareea and dangerous weight loss. I’ve been feeling a constipated sensation while experiencing dizziness, fatigue, trouble focusing, short of breath and huge lack of energy which I’m assuming was side effects of rapid weight loss. I’ll be getting diagnosed tomorrow and hopefully be taking some other form of antibiotic to help with my condition. After reading this form I hypothesize that I have a similar/same infection as many other people whom have been complaining. I’m open to any suggestions for possible ways to prevent the dihareea and help bring me back up to a healthy weight. Thanks :))

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