Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole-induced aseptic meningitis-not just another sulfa allergy

Karen E Bruner, Christopher A Coop, Kevin M White
Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology 2014, 113 (5): 520-6

OBJECTIVE: To review the literature on trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX)-induced aseptic meningitis (TSIAM) and discuss the features, possible mechanisms, evaluation, and treatment options relevant for the allergist.

DATA SOURCES: A MEDLINE search was performed using the terms aseptic meningitis, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, trimethoprim, and sulfamethoxazole.

STUDY SELECTIONS: Cases were included that fit the case definition of headache, neck pain, or change in mental status with elevated cerebrospinal fluid white blood cell count or protein attributable to TMP-SMX or either medication alone.

RESULTS: Forty-one patient cases were reviewed. There was a predominance of female patients and patients with autoimmune disease reported. Fever, headache, neck pain, and altered mental status were the most common findings reported in TSIAM reactions. Severe reactions ranged from hypotension to seizure and unconsciousness or coma. Typical cerebrospinal fluid findings included elevated white blood cell count with neutrophil predominance, elevated protein, and normal glucose. Symptoms quickly remitted with withdrawal of TMP-SMX, typically over 48 to 72 hours. Full recovery was typically experienced, although permanent paraplegia was reported in 1 case. The mechanism of reaction is unknown, although an IgE-mediated reaction is unlikely. Many patients experienced multiple TSIAM reactions before the diagnosis was made. Diagnosis can be confirmed with drug challenge or graded test dosing when necessary. Patients with TSIAM subsequently reacted to TMP and SMX alone and therefore should be advised to avoid these 2 classes of medication after diagnosis.

CONCLUSION: TMP-SMX is the most common antibiotic to cause drug-induced aseptic meningitis. By being aware of this reaction, allergists are well poised to diagnose TSIAM and prevent future reoccurrences for the patient.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"