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Sulfonamide: Get to Know These Antibiotics

Sulfonamide type antibiotics (sulfonamides) are frequently used in clinical practice to manage and cure diseases caused by bacteria. Sulfonamides are also referred to as sulfa drugs and are available in various dosage forms.

Some of the sulfonamide dosage forms are designed for oral administration, while others are designed for topical and ophthalmic applications. Several dosage forms are also available in combination with each other. If you are curious about this antibiotic, come on, see the discussion!

Invention Sulfonamide

In 1932, scientists began evaluating the efficacy of the first sulfonamide, Prontosil, in treating various ailments.

The term sulfonamide refers to any drug that is part of the sulfonamide chemical group. Antibiotics such as sulfonamides are prescribed to treat bacterial infections. Experts call it a synthetic drug because it is not obtained from natural sources, but is made in a laboratory.
Antibiotics from the sulfonamide class are known for their broad spectrum of activity against various pathogens.


Utility Sulfonamide

Sulfonamides are used to prevent the synthesis of dihydropteroate synthase (DHPS). Folic acid, which is produced in part by DHPS, is an essential component for bacterial multiplication and is required for this process. Enzyme suppression will inhibit the growth and reproductive ability of bacteria.

According to the Merck Manual, sulfonamides can treat various diseases, such as urinary tract infections (UTI), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), malaria, skin infections, vaginal infections, eye infections, and burns. This medication does not work against viral illnesses such as colds or flu.


The following are common types of sulfonamides:

  • Sulfasalazine, consisting of azulfidine and azulfidine EN-tab.
  • Diamox sequels, for example acetazolamide xr.
  • For children, acetic acid suspension and sulfisoxazole (gantricin).
  • Sulfisoxazole (trixazole).
  • Zonisamide (zonegran).

Precautions and warnings

Experts warn that prolonged use of sulfonamides can cause damage to blood cells. Blood problems can increase the risk of infection, hinder the body’s ability to heal, and cause bleeding gums.

You have to use dental tools like toothbrush, floss and toothpicks very carefully and postpone the dental surgery until your blood count returns to normal.

You should also tell your doctor if your symptoms do not improve while taking sulfonamides or if they get worse while you are taking them.

Increased photosensitivity is one of the potential side effects of sulfonamides. In fact, brief sun exposure can cause side effects such as severe sunburn, rash, itching, redness, or other skin discoloration. While taking this medicine, always protect yourself from the sun by applying sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, and staying indoors as much as possible.

While taking sulfonamides, it is best not to engage in activities that require total mental focus, such as driving a vehicle or operating heavy machinery.

Sulfonamides also should not be given to infants under 2 months of age unless specifically instructed by the pediatrician. Because of their high sensitivity, sulfonamides should be given to older patients with extreme caution, especially if they are also taking diuretics (water pills).

Side effects

As a synthetic drug, of course sulfonamides also have side effects. The side effects according to the Rx List include:

  • Itchy rash.
  • Red and scaly skin.
  • Increased skin sensitivity to sunlight.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Dizzy.
  • Headache.
  • No appetite.
  • An irresistible need to vomit or experience nausea.
  • Fatigue.

Some other possible side effects include:

  • Pain in muscles and joints.
  • The face turned pale.
  • Discolored, sore, blistered, peeling, or loosening of the skin.
  • Fever and sore throat.
  • Signs of abnormal bleeding.
  • Fatigue.
  • Eyes change color.
  • Stabbing pain in the stomach.
  • Pee changes color.
  • Diarrhea is severe and sometimes bloody.
  • Very high frequency of urine.
  • dry mouth
  • Low back pain.
  • Changes in mental or emotional state.
  • Discomfort when urinating
  • Swelling of the head and neck.

Drug interactions

The increased hepatic metabolism (breakdown and elimination) of cyclosporine caused by sulfonamides reduces the effectiveness of cyclosporine and can compound the renal damage caused by cyclosporine.

All sulfonamides can crystallize in the urine when the urine is acidic. Because methenamine (Hiprex, Urex, Mandelamine) causes acidic urine, it should not be used with sulfonamides.

According to MedicineNet, sulfonamides can increase the blood-thinning effect of warfarin (Coumadin), possibly causing abnormal bleeding.

Blood levels of digoxin may increase the blood levels of digoxin (Lanoxin) and possibly cause serious toxic effects.

Anemia, due to decreased folic acid, may occur in people receiving sulfonamides in combination with divalproex, valproic acid (Depakote, Depakote ER, Depakene, Depacon, Stavzor), methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall), pyrimethamine, triamterene, or trimetrexate.

Increased blood levels of potassium may occur when sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim is combined with ACE inhibitors.

Infectious bacteria can indeed be removed with sulfonamides. Although sulfonamides do not directly kill germs, they can inhibit the growth and multiplication of bacteria.

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