Is Bactrim a Broad-Spectrum Antibiotic?

Written by: Jessica Guht
Jessica Guht
Categorized as Antibiotics
Jessica Guht
Categorized as Antibiotics

Bactrim is a combination of two different types of antibiotics (sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim) and can be used to treat a wide variety of different illnesses that might be present in the body. 

But, even though Bactrim is an antibiotic medication that can effectively treat infections within the body, is it considered to be a broad-spectrum antibiotic or a narrow-spectrum antibiotic? 

This is where we come in to lend you a helping hand. In this guide, we are going to uncover what Bactrim medication is, as well as whether or not it is considered to be a broad-spectrum antibiotic or not. So, whenever you’re ready, just keep on reading! 

Table of Contents

What is a Broad Spectrum Antibiotic?

Before we uncover whether or not Bactrim is a broad-spectrum antibiotic, we first need to uncover what a broad-spectrum antibiotic actually is. To put it simply, there are currently two different types of main antibiotics that can be prescribed to treat an infection – these are narrow-spectrum antibiotics and broad-spectrum antibiotics.

While both types of antibiotics work very well to be able to treat all types of different infections, it is worth keeping in mind that while narrow-spectrum antibiotics are designed to target a small variety of different bacteria, broad-spectrum antibiotics are designed to target a great variety of strains of bacteria. 

As we have already mentioned, both types of antibiotics can work very well to help treat infections. However, using broad-spectrum antibiotics when they are not necessarily needed can create something that is known as “antibiotic resistance” bacteria within the body. When this occurs, this can lead to the growth of bacteria that can resist antibiotic treatment. 

Is Bactrim a Broad Spectrum Antibiotic?

Now that we have taken a closer look at the difference between a broad-spectrum antibiotic and a narrow-spectrum antibiotic, we’re sure that you’re now wondering what type of antibiotic Bactrim is considered to be.

As we have already briefly touched upon above, Bactrim is composed of two different types of antibiotics: trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole. Even though these are two different types of antibiotic strains, Bactrim is considered to be something known as a broad-spectrum synergistic combination. 

This means that Bactrim can be used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections ranging from the middle ear to respiratory, but with a particular affinity for treating infections within the urinary tract. This medication is also ideal for MRSA infections, as well as gram-negative infections.

It is very important to keep in mind that, despite being considered a broad-spectrum antibiotic medication, Bactrim is not an appropriate antibiotic treatment for viral infections such as the flu. As well as this, it is also not an appropriate treatment for children under the age of two months due to the increased risk of dangerous side effects.

About Bactrim

Now that you have learned that Bactrim is indeed classified as being a broad-spectrum antibiotic, we are now going to be taking the time to provide you with some more information about this particular antibiotic medication. Let’s take a look at the main takeaways below:

Bactrim Benefits

As we have already mentioned in a point above, Bactrim is a combination of two different types of antibiotics: sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim. As a broad-spectrum antibiotic, Bactrim can be used to treat a great variety of different bacterial infections such as urine infections, middle ear infections, intestinal infections and even respiratory infections.

As well as this, Bactrim can also be used to help prevent and treat a very specific type of pneumonia, which is the pneumocystis-type. Keep in mind that Bactrim only has the ability to effectively treat bacterial infections, such as the examples that we have listed in the point above. Due to this, it means that Bactrim cannot be used to treat viral infections, such as the flu. 

That being said, if Bactrim is prescribed to treat a viral infection, or it is unnecessarily used, then this can potentially lead to a decrease in the effectiveness of the treatment, as well as the risk of antibiotic-resistant bacteria beginning to grow in the body. This can then lead to certain infections being harder to treat due to having immunity to the antibiotic treatments being taken.

Bactrim Side Effects

Just like with many other types of antibiotic medication, it is important to note that Bactrim does come with side effects that you might possibly experience if your doctor prescribes a course of this medication to you. 

The main side effects that Bactrim can potentially cause in individuals taking the medication are feelings of nausea, being sick, having diarrhea and even experiencing a loss of appetite. For the most part, the majority of people taking Bactrim will not experience any side effects, but if you find that these effects are long-lasting or getting worse while taking your course of Bactrim treatment, you should be sure to speak with your doctor for further assistance.

Keep in mind that the amount of dosage given and the overall length of the treatment will vary from person to person. For the very best results and optimum efficacy of the treatment, if you have been prescribed Bactrim by your doctor you should ensure that you are taking the full course of Bactrim medication to prevent the infection from returning after completion.

As well as this, it is also advised to take Bactrim at evenly spaced times each day. So, with that being said, if you are about to begin treatment of Bactrim to treat a bacterial infection or certain type of pneumonia, you should make sure that you are taking this medication at the same time every day. 

How to Take Bactrim?

If you have been prescribed Bactrim, then you will need to take it by following the instructions given to you by your doctor. That being said, the general guidelines for Bactrim is to take it by mouth with a full glass of water. Alternatively, if you are prone to getting an upset stomach or nausea when taking medication, it might be deemed appropriate to take each dose with a meal.

As a side note, it is very important to note that Bactrim is not a suitable medicine for children less than 2 months of age. This is due to the increased risk of experiencing severe side effects in older children, teenagers, and adults.

How Can DrHouse Help You?

DrHouse is a telehealth platform, that provides access to medical professionals from the comfort and convenience of your own home. With our telehealth service, you can access a doctor from wherever you are at any time of the day and on-demand, meaning that you can receive the medical help that you need straight away.

If you have been prescribed Bactrim or are considering taking antibiotics for a bacterial infection, our experienced doctors will be able to guide you and advise you on how best to take the medication. We will also be able to provide any additional information about potential side effects as well as anything else that may be of benefit to you.

With DrHouse, you can also get a Bactrim prescription or refills online, if necessary. This allows you to safely and securely obtain the medication that you need without having to visit a doctor’s office.

In Conclusion

Just to sum up everything that we have talked you through above, Bactrim is considered to be a broad-spectrum antibiotic. This means that Bactrim is an antibiotic medication that can treat a great variety of bacteria and help to effectively treat many types of infections. 

If you have any more questions about broad-spectrum and narrow-spectrum antibiotics, we highly recommend that you speak with your doctor or an alternative healthcare professional who will be able to help you further. 

Additionally, if you feel you need an antibiotic course of treatment to treat an infection, they will also be able to assess whether you require a broad spectrum antibiotic such as Bactrim, or an alternative medication.


DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

About DrHouse

DrHouse provides 24/7 virtual urgent care, men’s health, women’s health and online prescriptions.

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