“I had a friend who was prescribed clindamycin by her dentist for an infection in her gums. A few weeks later, she started having diarrhea and went to her doctor. She did not mention taking the clindamycin. He gave her a prescription which did not help. She called and was given a new prescription.

“After about two weeks, her husband took her to the emergency room. They life-flighted her to a larger hospital.
“Two months from the start of the diarrhea, she died.

“I feel the dentist should not have prescribed it because she had, in the past, had cancer and chemotherapy. I also feel the doctor should have asked if she had taken antibiotics or run tests. She was a wonderful person, very active in the community, and will be missed. This was an unnecessary death.”


What a tragic story. We are saddened to learn of your friend’s death.

The antibiotic clindamycin can sometimes lead to an overgrowth of Clostridium difficile (C. diff) bacteria within the digestive tract. When that happens the resulting diarrhea can be extremely debilitating or even lethal (as was the case with your friend).

She should have been warned ahead of time about this possibility and the symptoms to watch out for. That way she would have been aware of the risk and could have notified her doctor immediately.

The FDA requires a “black box” warning (its strictest caution) in the official prescribing information for clindamycin (Cleocin) and points out that “Because clindamycin hydrochloride therapy has been asso­ciated with severe colitis which may end fatally, it should be reserved for serious infec­tions where less toxic antimicrobial agents are inappropriate…Appropriate fluid and electrolyte management, protein supplementation, antibiotic treatment of C. difficile, and surgical evaluation should be instituted as clinically indicated.

Once your friend reported such severe diarrhea the correct diagnosis should have been made sooner and appropriate treatment instituted.

Nothing can bring your friend back, but we sincerely hope that others can learn from this tragedy and become better informed about drug dangers. At the first sign of symptoms, a physician must be informed and immediate treatment started to prevent the grave complications of this condition.

This is not an isolated case. We have heard from far too many people who have also experienced severe diarrhea as a result of antibiotics like clindamycin. Here are just a few other stories.

“I was prescribed clindamycin to tackle a penicillin-resistant strain of strep in early November of 2010. They also gave me a shot of what I assume was also Clindamycin. This was after giving me a shot of penicillin a few days earlier. I was in the worst pain I had ever felt, so I did not pay much attention to the drug side effects. I figured if there were such serious contraindications associated with this antibiotic, they would have warned me. I guess I was just young (22 years old) and naive.

“The antibiotics did a fantastic job at relieving the strep throat, and for that I was thankful. However, I did not know the horror that was to come. Slowly over the course of a month, I started getting diarrhea. Eventually, it got so bad that I became severely dehydrated. I felt embarrassed at work because I was in the bathroom every 30 minutes. It was the worst smelling stuff I’ve ever come across, not to mention tarry and black. I decided to go to the doctor, and after a culture was taken, I was diagnosed with C. diff. He said if I had waited any longer, they might have needed to pump IV fluids through me.

The doctor prescribed me Flagyl to treat the C diff. Over the course of another month, the diarrhea slowly subsided. However, my digestion was not back to normal. Most of my food was not digesting and was painful to push out. I tried taking probiotics and eating my mom’s homemade yogurt, but that did not help.

Feeling totally helpless, I decided to try a natural doctor. She said (and my R.N. mother corroborated) that I likely had a fungal infection as a result of all the antibiotics. I followed a special diet to treat Candida and took a daily regimen of clay, garlic capsules, and lactic acid yeast. Over the course of about 2 months, things started getting much better. However, things have never gone completely back to normal. I still find that my food is not digesting all of the way. Over the course of a year, however, it got back to a very manageable level.

“Over the course of 3 months, I probably lost 10 pounds or more. The take-home message here is to always ask your doctor about side effects because he or she may not be proactive about telling you.”



“I was prescribed clindamycin for an abscess in my gum. Neither my dentist nor my pharmacist warned me about the increased chance (nearly twicefold!) of acquiring C.diff when using clindomycin and Prilosec at the same time. I stopped taking the clindomycin after the fifth dose. By this time my dentist was already in Ireland for vacation.

“The next dentist I saw recommended the tooth be extracted, but that I stay on antibiotics, and he prescribed Augmentin. By that time the damage had been done. I have not had a solid bowel movement in 3 weeks. I went to my doctor and he ordered a stool sample which came back positive for C. diff. Now I’m on Vancomycin to treat that. I have hardly had anything to eat in 2 days and feel like hell.

“For those of you who might not have health insurance, Vancomycin costs $700 for a 10 day regimen. The next drug of choice if that doesn’t work is $2800 for a 10 day supply. You certainly don’t want to find yourself in that situation.

“I urge the readers out there to follow the advice of your doctor, but when you get home from the pharmacy before you pop any pills, do your own research. If you have questions or don’t like what you did uncover, follow up with your doctor or get a second opinion. It may save aggravation, pain and even your life.”



These are just two stories but there are so many more. Here are links to:

Drug Causes Diarrhea From Hell

Clindamycin Can Cause Disastrous Diarrhea


An Effective But Extreme Diarrhea Treatment

We hope you will heed the advice of Maranda and Alex to always do your homework. Find out about serious or life threatening adverse drug effects BEFORE you start taking any medicine. Finding out before you pick the prescription up could save you money as well as digestive distress. Always ask your prescriber and pharmacist what symptoms to be alert for. At the first sign of trouble, contact your physician and take appropriate action. We do not want you to end up a statistic.

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  1. Mike

    I was prescribed Clindamycin for a bacteria infection on my skin. I have not taken this medication based on my research of this drug and the sad and unfortunate stories I have read on this blog. I have small gastro issue which I do not want to turn into a major gastro problem. Most doctors, not all, are concerned about their bottom line, they are not really concerned if you get better or not. The drug industry is a Billion dollar industry, wanna know why? Just think about it.

  2. Tracey

    My 81 year old mother has spend the past 4 and a half months fighting for her health and some times her life while battling C-Diff. She has been hospitalized twice, and has gone through two rounds of C-Diff treatment. This all began when she had some dental work done. She had a small infection and the dentist prescribed two rounds of Amoxicillian, a round of Clindamycin and a round of Metrinitizole (Flagyl). I am sure the Clindamycin was the culprit, but then the Metrinitizole prolonged the agony by hiding the original C-Diff infection. She has lost 35 precious pounds and hasn’t been able to eat anything for the past month and a half due to side effects from taking Vancomycen. I believe we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I thought I saw that same light two months ago. C-Diff is a horrible infection and costs us not only thousands of dollars but thousands of lives every year. You would think with that big of impact that the people who make Clindamycin might enforce stricter guidelines for use. I am hoping my mother will recover in the next couple of months. She will never get back the excellent health she had when this began, but I don’t want her sunset years to be filled with this pain and misery. I do plan on contacting the Dentist and letting him know the outcome of his Clindamycin prescription, but I want to be able to communicate effectively, and I’m not there yet.

  3. dana

    after 6 days on clindamycin (for failed root canal which resulted in infection to the bone of the jaw) this horrid antibiotic gave me a rash which is agonizing me. hives started spreading everywhere, warmth (by environment or by simply wearing any clothes) make a painful sensation following by a gnawing itch. why do doctors’ not test patients before giving out this toxin? my entire body developed purple and red patches. didn’t sleep for three nights, just itching all night. benedryl only helped the first night for two hours. doc prescribes prednisone which i suppose helps a little but doesn’t take away this nightmare. if you are a poor soul who are among the 1% afflicted with allergy to this antibiotic, pls drink a lot of vitamin c drinks because its the most effective anti histamine. clindaymine adverse affects are inhumane.

  4. Tracy

    Hi there, yes, we are constantly told the the benefits outweigh the risks! I’ve heard that from my poor elderly mom’s doctor regarding:
    Simvastatin (statins bring on a host of problems)
    Atenolol (blood lowering drug, which causes mental fog)
    Arricept (used for treating Alzheimer’s, questionable that it even works)
    We’ve taken our mom off of all of those drugs and she is much better! Her blood pressure and cholesterol are fine, and managed through diet and exercise.
    Dentists are the absolute worst, when it comes to negligence and drugs. Their ability to prescribe should be limited, in my opinion, but no one will agree, I’m sure.

  5. JFP

    I’ve been hearing of eating coconut flakes or Macaroon cookies have shown great results for diarrhea. The flakes can be put on your morning cereal, or mixed in with mashed potatoes, etc.
    My husband was on clindamycin and sadly it resulted in his death. I feel that physician’s should think twice about what they are prescribing.

  6. KAC

    Will someone please help me! Please. I am begging. I have runny stool and severe diarrhea for 11 months now. It comes in waves from bad to terrible. When it peaks at terrible, it is like my body is rebelling and does everything possible to evacuate EVERYTHING inside it. Mainly through diarrhea (really just water, by this point) and vomiting. I provided one stool sample, which displayed nothing. I can’t live like this, and the clinic just treats my symptoms with IV fluids and IV anti-nausea drugs. Even when this funk isn’t peaking, I am usually nauseous at least half the time and have almost constant diarrhea.
    I really feel like I am dying, but no one is taking me seriously. I’m desperate and don’t know what to do. I am so weak and beaten down from this that I can’t properly advocate for myself. After a phone call or two, I just don’t have anything left. That things like this happened in America is outrageous. I can feel another wave of this coming on (usually a 2 or 3 week cycle), and I just don’t think I can do it again. I’m usually feisty, but I’m tired and I hurt and I am losing hope. If it weren’t for my 2-year-old angel, I don’t think I could last through one more of these episodes. Somebody, please help me.

  7. kathie

    I too have been affected by Clindamycin. Having c.diff more than once. I have severe abdominal adhesions, resulting in 20 plus surgeries. Have not had surgery since 1998, but I have many intestinal problems now. I have found that taking a couple of small scoops of coconut daily has really helped with “THE RUNS”. Matter of fact I actually constipated myself by taking too much. I don’t know why this works, but for me coconut is the answer to my problems.

  8. Wayne F C

    I was prescribed Clindamycin by my dentist. I took it for 22 days 11 days plus 11 days. This occurred in January. Here I am dealing with remaining side effects. Help. Wayne F C

  9. Mari

    Several people asked about foods –listen to a recent People’s Pharmacy to find out about fermented foods for re-establishing good intestinal flora. I believe it is now recommended that people consume probiotics while taking antibiotics at alternating times of day.
    A good source for investigating home fermented foods is Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. Another source is the Weston A. Price Foundation website. There aren’t a lot of commercially available fermented foods–maybe kimchi or some refrigerated saurkrauts or yogurt.
    There are many delicious fermented foods you can easily make at home–including yogurt. Yogurt is important in obtaining whey which is used along with salt to make lacto-fermented foods. Here’s one you might like to try: http://healthyfamilychronicles.blogspot.com/2010/05/fruit-kvass-my-newest-love.html

  10. SharonM

    My Grandson had C-Diff for the first year of his life! I believe he contracted it in the hospital, because he was sickly when he came home. He does not handle antibiotics well at all and cannot take amoxicillin at all as it immediately brings on diarrhea. My daughter-in-law and I spent the whole first year of his life keeping him alive at times with a medicine dropper full of Gatorade!!! It was horrible and heart-breaking and he is a very poor eater now.
    He just recently had a swingset accident that knocked his permanent front tooth up into his gum and left 4 other teeth loose. Even though he’s been swishing as instructed by dentist, his gums are abscessed. The dentist prescribed Clindamycin to my horror! I sent your warning about it to everyone involved and 3 doctors still maintain this is the drug of choice for him! I fear for his life. He has already lost weight due to the accident and can only eat soft food.
    What can we do to keep C Diff. away??????? Help!
    I look forward to your timely response! Thanks so much.

  11. Suzanne

    My son, age 45, was more than healthy his whole life, due to eating properly and working out constantly. He walked miles and miles each day. On Sept. 1st, he developed unbelievable, excruciating pain after eating a meal. To make a long story short, the hospital he was taken to determined that it was C diff, a result of him taking the anti-biotic clindamycin for a bad tooth.
    He has basically spent more than two months in the hospital. He has been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and possibly Crohn’s disease. He has developed a blood clot in his leg, and today was diagnosed with pneumonia. I pray that he will not be among the 14,000 American deaths a year from taking this anti-biotic. In my opinion, clindamycin should not be allowed to be administered.

  12. becky j.

    For people who must be on antibiotic therapy, is there anything that can be done to proactively ward off c.diff? Any special diet or things that will help? I’m on long-term combination antibiotic therapy for Lyme disease and I take 14 billion probiotics daily, but I’m concerned. Dealing with Lyme has been really hard for me and my family and I want to avoid further complications.
    Also,can a person have c.diff more than once?
    Thanks for any info you can share.
    Sadly, C. Diff can come back. It can be hard to eradicate.

  13. CDR

    So many of the comments on this subject say to ask your doctor about the side effects. I have mentioned to my doctors my concerns of using antibiotics, specifically Cipro and Clindamycin, and they poo-poo (no pun intended) my concerns and say the risk of using these meds outweigh the risk of whatever infection I’m seeking help for. Why should I be made to feel like I’m being paranoid or over reacting to my own health care??

  14. sunny fader

    My dentist perscribed clindamycin before dental work. I did not connect the antibiotic with the extreem diarrhea I experienced a couple days latear, but fortunately when I went to see my gastroenterologist he had me review everthing I had done that I did not usually do… so I told him I had taken clindamycin. He said he had seen this reaction from this drug before.
    Yet when I told the dentist and my GP they both doubted the drug was the problem. It was only reluctantly that they gave me another antibiotic for my next dental appointment.
    It is a great concern to me that because doctors and dentists are so busy they often do not keep abreast on alerts about reactions to medications. For me the problem was a threat, but not fatal. Just scary and uncomfortable. It saddens me that others have not been so forutnate.

  15. A.V.

    When prescribed any medication, before purchasing, research the side effects (and ingredients (inactive) in case of allergies, or ask the pharmacists. Their job is to know about drugs. Grill them or get the handouts that often come with drugs detailing the most common side effects.

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