The People's Perspective on Medicine

A Deadly Clindamycin Side Effect | Wicked Diarrhea!

Diarrhea doesn't seem like that big a deal when you are given antibiotics. But this clindamycin side effect can be disastrous. C. diff infections can be deadly.
Toilet constipation

Over 5 millions prescriptions for the antibiotic clindamycin (Cleocin) are dispensed each year. This antibiotic has been available for almost 50 years. It is effective against a wide range of nasty bacteria including MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and strep-induced meningitis. Doctors and dentists have prescribed clindamycin for infections affecting the skin, ears, bones, throat, sinuses, lungs, joints and teeth. There is a devilish downside. One clindamycin side effect can be uncontrollable diarrhea. It can sometimes be fatal.

A Dangerous Clindamycin Side Effect:

A reader shared this harrowing story about a devastating clindamycin side effect:

Q. I was prescribed clindamycin following a dental procedure. Two days after finishing it I ended up with the worst diarrhea and stomach pains l have ever had in my life.

I have just been diagnosed with a C. difficile infection after suffering for nearly two weeks. Unfortunately, it will take another antibiotic to cure me of this horrendous condition. I will NEVER take this drug again.

C. Diff is a Dangerous Clindamycin Side Effect:

A. As helpful as clindamycin can be against a wide range of serious infections, this drug can produce severe, or even life-threatening side effects. One of the worst is Clostridium difficile (C. diff) associated diarrhea (CDAD).

That’s because this antibiotic can change the ecology of the colon and allow for overgrowth of C. diff bacteria. The FDA warns that because clindamycin can cause:

“severe colitis which may end fatally, it should be reserved for serious infections where less toxic antimicrobial agents are inappropriate…”

Dealing with C. Diff Infections:

Overcoming a C. diff infection can be challenging. Even after successful treatment with another antibiotic, recurrence is possible. In extreme cases, doctors may perform a fecal transplant to restore a healthy balance of intestinal bacteria.

Other Clindamycin Side Effects (from the FDA):

  • Digestive distress (nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, colitis, esophagitis, diarrhea, C. diff infection)
  • Metallic taste
  • Skin rash (red bumps or patches, itching, potentially life-threatening skin reactions. Immediate attention necessary!)
  • Liver disorders (jaundice)
  • Possible kidney damage
  • Arthritis

Readers Share Stories About A Clindamycin Side Effect:

Kat in Texas shared this scary story:

“I was prescribed clindamycin for seven days for diverticulitis. I lost my appetite and became very depressed. My joints started aching. Then I developed a bad bout of diarrhea a couple of days after completing this course of medication.

“My doctor sent me to the ER where I was diagnosed with C. diff after I was admitted. I spent five days in a hospital isolation room. Two weeks after being released from the hospital I still have joint pain. My BM’s are not completely normal yet, and I am still trying to get my strength back.

“I was told that if I ever have to be hospitalized again, I will be put in isolation because I have had this infection. I will never, ever take clindamycin again! According to my doctors (as I understand), this antibiotic depleted my body of good and bad bacteria, which made me susceptible to this potentially deadly (C. diff) bacterial infection.”

Shane almost died from a C. diff infection:

“It’s been 17 months since I’ve taken clindamycin. Last year I almost died from it. I developed C.diff. I reacted badly to the antibiotics prescribed to control C. diff.

“I had a fecal transplant. Even after the C. diff cleared up I am unable to eat anything without my stomach becoming hard and swollen. The pain is unbelievable. I have been to countless doctors who haven’t the slightest idea what is going on I do know clindamycin caused the issues I now face.

“The reason why I’m posting is that I’ve seen many people take clindamycin without ill effects. Since we are all so different it’s hard to determine who’s going to get a clindamycin side effect and who won’t. I’m not in favor of taking the drug off the market IF it’s the only solution out there to solve DIFFICULT infections.

“In my case, I do not feel it should have been administered knowing that there were other drugs available with lesser consequences. There should be MORE EDUCATION provided to the doctors who prescribe clindamycin.

“It’s been a very long journey which continues. What I’ve learned is that all of my physical problems have worsened by the use of clindamycin. I still have ‘burnt’ skin and I’ve lost the hair on my arms. I am so grateful to be alive.”

It’s Not All Diarrhea:

Rob in Oregon shared this tragic story:

“My brother was prescribed clindamycin, 2 x 300mg day for 7 days, to treat a small case of cellulitis on his thumb. He was 33, healthy. Initially he reported mild side effects.

“Day 4, he reported muscle weakness, fatigue, headache, terrible taste in his mouth, debilitating joint pain, night sweats, delirium/confusion, severe nausea. Doctor directed him to continue the drug despite the severity of the adverse effects.”

“Day 5 he was dead.”

S. also reported a life-threatening clindamycin side effect:

“I had severely altered QT interval with this drug. I couldn’t incline or lie down for 2 weeks because my heart would stop beating. It was horrible. Also caused severe scary depression that isn’t listed in side effects until you look for drug information online.

“I only took it for a few days. Did nothing for the sinus infection, and gave me severe wheezing and all over body pain. I am still having heart and major digestive problems a year later.”

There is not much in the medical literature about clindamycin and life-threatening irregular heart beats. We did find this case report published in the American Journal of Cardiology (March 1, 1999). As far as we can tell, the FDA has not required any warning about heart rhythm problems.

Clindamycin Has A Place:

Some people have had such horrific experiences with clindamycin that they have called for the antibiotic to be banned. We agree with Shane, though. When someone is allergic to penicillin, clindamycin can be a life-saving drug. There are other infections that are so life-threatening that clindamycin is worth the risk. The FDA makes it clear that clindamycin should be reserved for serious infections “where less toxic antimicrobial agents are inappropriate.”

You Can read about other clindamycin complications at this link.

There are over 1,000 comments with the above article. Share your own clindamycin story below in the comment section.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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last year I took clindamycin after getting work done on my teeth. The dentist was supposed to extract some teeth, drilled a hole, and then decided to save it by filling the hole. Was prescribed clindamycin. The filling fell out. and I was in excruciating pain. Was rush to hospital where they took away the pain.

Two months later I got really sick with diarrhea and was badly dehydrated. I went to be seen and was told if I hand’t come in that day I would have died. I had gotten C-diff from clindamycin. It killed my good bacteria, turning it into bad bacteria, and then I developed MRSA on top of that.

I was never told about the risk of C-diff from clindamycin. It’s been 11 months of hell. I lost my appetite and went from 190 lbs to 119 lbs, and my boyfriend left. I was never told how serious either of these risks were. My doctors say it’s far, and they both have been around for years. Clindamycin should be banned.

I had cdiff for 3 months. Finally I called Merck and they overnited me their drug Dificid, and that cured me for the last 4 months.

A dermatologist did a hole punch biopsy in my lower leg that took more than two years to heal. Before it had healed over I developed a Strep infection in my blood. I went to urgent care with chills and was ambulanced straight away to a hospital. Guess what they gave me for the strep? Clindamycin. I developed c. diff. within a day. After being discharged I had to see a tropical disease doctor for IV treatments every day for two weeks. The c. diff. came back twice.

I was finally ‘downgraded’ to Irritable Bowel Syndrome/Diarrhea a few months later, which I suffer from to this day. I had to give up my job teaching as I can’t predict when I’ll need to run for a long bout in the bathroom. No probiotics have ever worked for me. I get some relief by taking lots of fiber pills. I don’t really know who to be most angry with: the doctor who left me with a hole in my leg or the medicine that gave me this awful illness.

Taking an antibiotic. Check the literature — Saccharomyces Boulardii probiotic — surgeon believes it protected me from c. Deficil following root canal which followed hip replacement. He was very concerned another doc would prescribe an antibiotic placing my healing in danger.

Are people not told to take probiotics hours after their antibiotic or plain yogurt to help prevent the loss of GI healthy bacteria?

I was prescribed Clindamycin after dental work (an implant), and I suffered greatly with diarreah and vomiting. I have an iron stomach that’s rarely upset, but I didn’t know what hit me. Cramps, loose bowels, no appetite, etc. Dentist said I could stop taking it, but effects are still around after two weeks. Also seem to be allergic to penicillin (after previous dental work), and wonder what’s left to take without these awful side effects.

I took this drug to finally cure an infection in my mouth that a root canal and rounds of antibiotics did not cure. Prior to taking it (it really was a last resort), I read the information online. Thought twice, especially about the warnings of liver problems. Fortunately, I did not have the side effects described here, and finally got rid of the infection. My dentist told me the drug was not one he prescribed regularly but since all other attempts failed to kick the infection we needed to try it. I feel for the people who had such disastrous results.

I did not write down the name of the drug but must have been this one. I t was about 8 years ago and I went to the hospital with diahrea and was short of breath and aching in my lung. I even now suffer with loose stools and stomach pains. Because I was quareentened my daughters helped with the bedding changes and one of them got it also. The medication was given to me at one of the health care stand alone building when I had strep.

I have taken clindamycen for dental prevention many times with no side effects. If nothing happened in the past could I still get side effects if I take it in the future or am I safe from those deadly side effects I just read about.

I took clindomycin for a tooth infection and was fine for two months when I woke up with really mucusy diarrhea. My Dr knew right away it was cdiff and sent me for a test. So, it doesn’t have to be right away.

When I am prescribed an antibiotic I take an OTC probiotic and eat yogurt to prevent diarrhea. My husband was prescribed clindamycin. He had severe gastric discomfort despite taking it with food. It was discontinued. Shouldn’t patients be advised to take a probiotic when prescribed antibiotics.

I had a severe cough throughout the beginning of the year. Much was going on in our lives and although I was told it would simply disappear soon I simply couldn’t deal with it any more. I requested something to help with the cough and was given a generic for cefdinir.

This was on 4/24/18. Within a week or so I got severe diarrhea that persisted for weeks. Finally I called my doctor again as I was often unable to make it to the bathroom in time. A stool sample diagnosis of C diff meant nothing to me until I started to look up the issue and what I could do about it.

I would do a fecal transplant in a moment but I have to have recurring bouts of this malady before they will take me on in a clinical trial. I took 3 courses of vancomycin and just recently can feel that I am getting some control over my bowel. If I have a social engagement I take a couple of Imodium and that allows me to be out in public without a bathroom in my sight. It is now the end of July. Been doing this for 3 months.

I must say I have been fortunate, reading about others’ experiences.

Was given a four day regimen of Clyndomyacin and on the fourth day broke out in a full body rash. No other side effects occurred.

Does Clindamycin Topcial 1% solution have the same side effects? I have been prescribed the topical solution for many years for skin breakouts with no detectable side effects. I am also on other medications for diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol that seem to have similar side effects such as digestive distress and joint/muscle pain. So how can one tell which medicine is causing the side effect when so many drugs all have similar side effects? It’s a wonder there are no chemical explosions within our bodies with all the various medicines, etc.

I was prescribed clindamycin 2 months ago by my dentist for an infected root canal(extreme mouth and facial pain) The drug relieved my infection within 24 hours, I took ibuprofen for the pain. I was thankful the pain was gone but I couldn’t figure out the instruction regarding not lying down for 10 minutes after taking the drug.

Within 60 minutes, my chest pain was bad because I did lay down, I knew it was not my heart but any chest pain that lasts is scary. My esophagus was torched by acids from my stomach. Luckily I had no problems with the runs, this drug does work but has some very unique side effects.

I knew a woman who died from C-diff. It’s not something to take lightly. I try to not take any antibiotics, but especially this one. If I do have to take one I also take extra probiotics and prebiotics to try to counter the killing of the good gut bacteria that affects the antibiotic’s cause.

My husband struggled with severe diarrhea for six months after taking Clindamycin for a dental procedure. After multiple rounds of antibiotics and no improvement, he told his GI doctor that he’d rather risk dying than take another antibiotic. His doctor then said that he had read of one strategy that might help – an off-label use of Questran powder, a drug to lower cholestrol. Not only did it stop the diarrhea, but his cholestrol level improved, as well.

I took Clindamycin several years ago after oral surgery. I had hives for weeks afterward that would go away and then come back again. I developed anxiety and depression that I had never had before. Fortunately, these side affects disappeared after two months. I think it is a dangerous drug and unfortunately, you won’t know if you will develop side affects, sometimes devastating, until you take it.

I was given Clindamycin in 2000. It was for an abcess from a recent root canal.
After finishing the medicine, I noticed a red, bumpy rash coming out all over my body. I quickly called for an appointment to see my dermatologist, who prescribed a steroid shot. That worked! The rash went away, and I was told to NEVER take this antibiotic again as it could lead to my death.

Dentist prescribed 3 weeks of Clindamycin for root canal as preventative. Suffered severe C-Diff after 10 days. Was mis-diagnosed by large national lab company. Researched my diagnosis using information on the internet; went to a local large hospital lab instead, and confirmed my diagnosis. Gastroenterologist and local “healing sanctuary” helped heal me. It took 5 months to get my digestive system back to normal. I threatened to sue the dentist. He paid for all my out-of-pocket medical costs. Not the way to lose 25 pounds.

My mom is currently battling her second round of c diff after she was given clindamycin after she had a tooth pulled. It was given JUST IN CASE she had infection, not because she did have one. Because of this, she has been in a world of hurt for the entire summer, and now may have to undergo a fecal transplant, which her insurance may not pay for. I want to sue her dentist so bad, but right now I’m more intersted in trying to get mom well. What a nightmare. And it’s not over.

I was prescribed a 7 day dose of Clindamycin pre-root canal procedure. Severe cramping and diarrhea kicked in within a few days to the point I had to sleep curled up on the floor by the toilet. I couldn’t eat or drink without the diarrhea kicking in. Blood appeared in my stool. I thought I was going to die. One night I couldn’t take it any longer and was able to drive myself to the ER where they said: Well, you should have been in the hospital. You should always remember the BRAT diet: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Tea. Don’t ever take Clindamycin again and remember to tell your doctor what happened. Upon telling the dentist what happened he snarled: I doubt that. Since then I place Clindamycin on my doctor’s info sheet under Allergies to Medications and upon questioning am told by the doctor it is NOT an allergic reaction and it should not be listed. I keep listing it, and of course, will never take it again. I doubt I could survive a second time.

What about topical clindamycin as an acne medication? I wonder if it absorbs enough through the skin to potentially cause any of these adverse reactions.

I was prescribed clindamycin in July 2016 to prevent infection following oral surgery. Before finishing the drug, my esophagus did not feel right, it was harder to swallow anything and could feel everything going down as if esophagus was swollen and tight. Later read it can cause inflammation of esophagus. Thankfully, that cleared fairly soon after completing the prescription. A couple weeks later, I began having frequent diarrhea, awful cramping, terrible gas along with hot flashes, clammy, weakness and some heart palpitations (several years prior was diagnosed with SVT and irregular heartbeat and on medication). Thought it was a virus as several had similar symptoms but symptoms continued to worsen. Saw my doctor who prescribed flagyl after diagnosis of C-diff. Two trips to ER over the next two weeks, dehydration, felt horrible. Got some better but had relapse and then prescribed more flagyl as well as vancomycin. In mid September had two terrible episodes of A-fib in one day, requiring ER visits, that my cardiologist later said was caused by the C-diff infection and resulting weakness. Will never take that drug again and advise caution for anyone it is prescribed for.

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