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Alprim, also known as trimethoprim, is an antibiotic that is based on the principle that bacteria need their vitamins, too. This remarkably versatile bacteria killer interferes with an enzyme that activates the B vitamin folic acid into a form that cells can actually use for making energy. It also has this effect in human cells, but it is several thousand times more deadly to bacterial cells than it is to human cells, so infections usually can be brought under control before there is any damage to human health.
Alprim Is Often Teamed Up with Another Antibiotic
In the UK, until a few years ago, doctors typically prescribed Alprim with another antibiotic known as Bactrim, Septrin, Septra, or generic sulfamethaxole. The second antibiotic deactivated a different enzyme that bacteria, and humans, also need to to use folic acid. However, the combination of antibiotics was found to be so potent that it could cause anemia so it has been discontinued for treating adults, although the combination is still used for treating chronic ear infections in children.
What Is the Most Important Use of Alprim?
The most important use of Alprim is to treat urinary tract infections when a simple natural cure for bladder infections, such as cranberry juice and drinking more water, has not worked. Around the world, bladder infections are not just a frequent source of pain and embarrassment, they are also one of the most common causes of dementia and even death in the elderly.
What Might Your Doctor Not Tell You About Alprim?
Especially in the United States, family doctors tend to be rushed, and patients simply don't have time to think about and ask all the questions they like. Alprim is an often-effective and inexpensive antibiotic, but there are some things the doctor may not warn you about that you need to know.
- Elderly people are more likely to experience side effects when they are given Alprim (trimethoprim), especialy when they are also given Bactrim (sulfamethaxole). In a medical chart, the combination is usually noted as TMP-SMX, TMP standing for trimethoprim (Alprim), and SMX standing for sulfamethaxole (Batrim). The most common complication is high potassium levels in the bloodstream, a condition called hyperkalemia. Elderly persons who take high blood pressure medications in a class known as ACE inhibitors (lisinopril, ramipril, and similar medications with -il in their names) or ACE receptor blockers (such as losartan) are especially vulnerable to this complication. High potassium levels are more likely when people are taking multiple medications, but they can have very serious complications.
- Young people taking Alprim for bladder infections sometimes develop anemia. More specifically, they develop a condition known as megaloblastic anemia, in which a shortage of usable folic acid (the B vitamin) causes malformations in red blood cells. Taking supplemental folic acid won't help. In fact, it makes the problem worse.