What Doxycycline Is
Doxycycline is a broad-spectrum antibiotic of the tetracycline class. It is used for treatment of a range of bacterial infections of the skin, urinary tract, intestine, the respiratory system, periodontitis (gum disease), and also such pathogens as gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and others. Doxycycline is also used as adjunctive therapy in the treatment of skin defects associated with rosacea. However, it will not eliminate facial redness caused by this disease. Sometimes doxycycline is also used for prevention of malaria, for treating anthrax and infections transmitted by some parasites (like lice, ticks, or mites).
Recommendations for Use, Dosage and Overdose
The usage of doxycycline varies depending on the disease, degree of severity, age and general health of the patient, form of the drug. As any antibiotic, doxycycline is a prescription medication and must be taken only as per doctor’s prescription! Follow all the instructions on your prescription and on the label of the drug. Do not change the dosage or the time of treatment on your own without consulting your physician!
Doxycycline pills are taken with a full glass of water. In general, increased fluid intake is advisable with this medicine.
Most times doxycycline can be mixed with food if you want to avoid upsetting your stomach. However, it may vary depending on the brand. Oracea, for example, should be taken in the fasting state, so you have to wait at least two hours after a meal or take it one hour before. Consult the instructions for use of a particular brand regarding this aspect.
If you have trouble swallowing the pills, you may crash the pill or open the capsule and sprinkle the content into a spoonful of some food. Take the mixture right away; do not keep it for later. Do not chew it. Drink a glass of water right after. However, this works only for instant-release drugs. With delayed-release capsules or pills, you have to swallow the pill whole.
If you were prescribed doxycycline in a smaller dose than the one your pill has, you need to split the pill. And the other way round, if you were prescribed a bigger dose, you may need to take a few pills or a pill and a fraction. Follow your physician’s instructions.
If you were prescribed doxycycline in a liquid form, use the dosing syringe provided for measuring the drug or a dosing spoon or cup. These can be bought in a pharmacy, if not included in the package.
For prevention of malaria, doxycycline course should be started 1 or 2 days before going to places where the disease is common. Take the drug during your whole stay and then at least 4 weeks upon return. Do not forget to use other protective measures, like clothing, repellents, and bed net to avoid bites by mosquitoes that transmit malaria.
If you are unable to take doxycycline orally, it can be prescribed as injection or infusion. Use doxycycline for the full prescribed course. Even if your symptoms improve, do not stop the treatment! Your infection may not be fully eradicated, and it also can bring to the problem of antibiotic resistance. Do not skip your doses as well as this may increase the chances of developing further antibiotic-resistant infection.
Please, keep in mind that doxycycline, as all antibiotics, does not treat viral infections such as flu or common cold! It can be prescribed only if a bacterial infection joins the viral one and only by a qualified physician!
If you need a surgical intervention, tell the surgeon that you are taking doxycycline beforehand.
Store the drug at room temperature in dry ventilated conditions away from sunlight. Dispose of any expired leftovers of the drug. Using expired doxycycline can be damaging to your health. Remember to keep this and all other drugs out of children’s reach. Do not share your drugs or prescriptions with others and use them only for the indication they were prescribed!
If you accidentally overdose doxycycline, consult your physician or seek emergency medical attention.
Precautions and Contraindications
You should not take this medicine if you are allergic to doxycycline or antibiotics of the tetracycline class.
Doxycycline should be taken with caution by patients who have or have ever had severe liver or kidney conditions, asthma, sulfite allergy, or increased intracranial pressure.
Patients who are prescribed doxycycline to treat Chlamydia should also be tested for gonorrhea.
Doxycycline treatment during pregnancy is not advisable as it may affect the dental and osteal development in the fetus and should only be prescribed if the estimated potential benefit to the mother outweighs any potential risk to the fetus. It is also advised not to breastfeed while taking the drug for the same reason. Doxycycline can be found in breast milk, and the extent of absorption is unknown.
Doxycycline is not intended for children as it can lead to permanent color change of teeth (making them yellow or grey) in children under 8. Children should only be prescribed doxycycline in severe or life-threatening conditions, when the benefit of treatment may outweigh the risks.
Interactions with Other Drugs and Substances
Doxycycline should be taken with caution by patients who take anti-seizure medication, isotretinoin, or blood thinners like warfarin (Coumadin).
Taking mineral supplements and multivitamins, antacids or laxatives is not advised during doxycycline treatment. Make at least 2-hour interval before or after taking the antibiotic. Do not use other antibiotics while taking doxycycline unless per your physician’s order.
Doxycycline intake can make patients more sensitive to sun radiation which may result in sunburns. For this reason, avoid long exposure to sunlight or tanning beds. When outdoors, wear protective clothing and sunscreen (SPF 30+).
Antibiotics often cause diarrhea as a side effect, which may require using anti-diarrhea medicine. Do not use any medication without consulting your physician. If you have watery or bloody diarrhea, seek medical consultation immediately.
Doxycycline can decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills. Consult your physician about the need to use other birth control methods (like condoms or diaphragms with spermicide) to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
Avoid taking alcohol during doxycycline treatment as it may cause damage to your liver.
To the most common doxycycline side effects are the following:
- Loss of appetite, upset stomach, nausea, vomiting;
- Skin reactions (like itching or rash);
- Change in skin color;
- Vaginal dryness, itching and/or discharge.
However, this list is not complete. Other less frequent side effects may occur. Always inform your physician about any side effects or problems to your health that may be associated with doxycycline intake. Some symptoms and effects require immediate medical attention, such as allergic reactions (hives, shortness of breath, swollen lymph nodes), severe reactions on skin and mucus membranes (fever, “sand” in the eyes, sore throat, skin pain, rash, blistering and peeling, change in skin color).
Sometimes doxycycline can cause systemic prolonged side effects that resemble flu-like symptoms – headaches, fever, muscle aches, fatigue, swollen glands, and pale skin.
Consult your physician immediately if you experience any of these worrisome symptoms:
- Severe abdominal pain, watery or bloody diarrhea;
- Sore throat, difficulty in swallowing;
- Irregular heart rhythm, chest pain, shortness of breath;
- Insufficient or the absence of urination;
- Low white blood cell levels;
- Bleeding and easy bruising;
- Headaches, dizziness, ringing in your ears, fainting, nausea, pain behind your eyes, vision problems;
- Low appetite, fatigue, stomach pain that spreads to your back, nausea and/or vomiting, increased heart rate, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes), dark urine.
Keep in Mind
Please, provide your physician with full information about the conditions you have or had in the past, all the medications you are currently taking, known allergies to any substances, pregnancy or breastfeeding. Use doxycycline only when prescribed by a professional qualified physician and strictly in accordance with their instructions!Do not use doxycycline on your own or advise anyone to do so. Store the drug properly as required in the instructions for use and dispose of any expired leftovers. Keep away from children’s reach. If you experience any severe side effects or reactions, always inform your physician immediately!