What Tetracycline Is

Tetracycline is one of the most well-known antibiotics of the tetracycline class. It is widely used to fight serious bacterial infections, particularly, those of the skin, intestinal, respiratory or urinary tract, genitals, and other body systems, especially when penicillin or similar antibiotics do not work. Tetracycline’s efficiency against spherical bacteria (also known as cocci) allowed it into the WHO model list of essential medicines. Also, it is used in treating sexually transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea, syphilis, or chlamydia, as well as the ones acquired through the nonpercutaneous channel from infected animals or contaminated food.

Recommendations for Use, Dosage and Overdose

Tetracycline comes in a variety of forms for еру most comfortable administration and best efficiency. Particularly, it can be found in a form of tablets, capsules, suspension, or compounding powder. Tetracycline must be taken only as per doctor’s prescription, just like all antibiotics! Follow your prescription as well as the instructions on the patient leaflet. Do not change the dosage, dosing interval or duration of treatment without consulting your physician! Do not share the drug with other people even if their symptoms are identical to yours! Do not use tetracycline for further treatments; keep in mind that it has been prescribed for the particular indication!

The dosing interval as well as duration of use depends on the nature and severity of the infection. A regular dose for a single administration equals 500 mg in adults; in children (older than 8), it depends on their weight. The course may last from a week to a month. The treatment of sexually transmitted infections requires evaluating the patient’s sexual partner(s) as well and prescribing the drug to them if needed.

Tetracycline is taken on an empty stomach, which means not less than an hour before or two hours after a meal. Specifically, it should not be mixed with dairy products (unless your physician has told you to do so), as calcium in them may bind with tetracycline and complicate its absorption. The same action is peculiar to magnesium and aluminum. Therefore, the medication should be taken 2-3 hours before or after whatever containing the above elements.

If you experience stomach upset, ask your physician whether it is possible for you to take tetracycline with food. If you take pills or capsules, take them with a full glass of water. If you take oral suspension, shake it well right before dosing. For measuring, you need a dose-measuring device, such as a special syringe, spoon or cup. If it does not come with the drug, ask your pharmacist. Do not take tetracycline just before bedtime because it is not advised to lie down for at least ten minutes after administration.

As any antibiotic, tetracycline must be taken for the full prescribed course. Do not skip doses or stop treatment even if you do feel better. Such behavior puts you at a risk of further antibiotic-resistant infection! If you do miss a dose occasionally, take it right away when you remember, but do not if it is almost time for the next one.

In the course of a long-term treatment, you may need regular medical examinations. In case you need any surgical intervention, inform the surgeon in advance that you are taking tetracycline.

Symptoms of overdosing may include trouble breathing or fainting. If this happens, someone should contact a poison control center immediately. Please, keep in mind that antibiotics, including tetracycline, do not kill viral infections such as flu or common cold! Store the medication at room temperature, avoid heat and moisture. Do not use it after expiration to prevent kidney damage.

Precautions and Contraindications

Tell your physician if you are allergic to tetracycline or other antibiotics of the same class, such as doxycycline or minocycline. Any other allergies need to be told about as well. Also, inform the doctor on any kidney or liver disease, esophagus problems (for example, hiatal hernia) or problems swallowing.

While taking this medication, limit alcoholic beverages. The medication may make you dizzy, and alcohol aggravates that. So does marijuana (cannabis), so tell your physician if you are using it. Do not undergo immunization/vaccination during treatment (unless prescribed directly by your physician), as tetracycline may suppress live bacterial vaccines.

This drug may increase your sensitivity to the sun. Taking this into consideration, spend less time in the sun and avoid tanning beds. When outdoors, wear protective clothes and use sunscreens (SPF 15+). In case of sunburn, inform your doctor immediately. The senior are advised to take this drug with caution because of their extra vulnerability. Neither should it be used in children under the age of 8 since it may irreversibly discolor the teeth and also interfere with their growth.

Tetracycline is not intended for pregnant women because of the possible negative influence on bone and tooth development in the fetus. The same reason is why it is not recommended to breastfeed in the course of treatment. The drug passes into breast milk.

Interactions with Other Drugs and Substances

Tetracycline may interact with a considerable range of other medications causing harmful effects on your body. Consequently, it needs to be used with caution by patients who take any other substances. Special focus should be put on blood thinners, antacids or laxative medicines, mineral supplements containing zinc, iron, calcium, or magnesium, tretinoin and isotretinoin, as well as any other antibiotics. Please keep in mind the above list is not complete, so inform your physician on whatever you are taking.

You should also be cautious if you are taking birth control pills as tetracycline may reduce their efficiency. For the prevention of unwanted pregnancy, ask your doctor for alternative contraception, such as condoms or a diaphragm with spermicide.

Side Effects

The most common side effects include:

  • Increased skin sensitivity to sunlight;
  • Dizziness;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Stomach cramps.

Skin reactions need immediate medical attention, so tell your doctor right away if you have skin redness and/or blisters. As for diarrhea and upset stomach, those effects may vanish by themselves once your organism adjusts to the drug. However, if they do not go away, consult a professional as soon as possible. In addition, your doctor may instruct you in advance on ways to prevent or reduce possible side effects.

Less common side effects may be as follows:

  • Stomach ache;
  • Headache;
  • Low appetite;
  • Nausea and/or vomiting;
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes;
  • Sore throat;
  • Rectal and/or genital itching.

Even though these side effects may go away, inform your doctor about any unusual signs you develop. In some patients, tetracycline may cause pigmentation (darkening) or depigmentation (discoloration) of skin, mucous membranes, or tongue. Such effects are mostly temporary and will vanish as soon as you stop taking the drug. However, do consult your doctor anyway.

Contact your physician immediately if you experience any of the following serious side effects:

  • Insufficient urination, dark urine;
  • Nail and/or tooth discoloration;
  • Unusual fatigue, muscle pain, hand/foot numbness or tingling;
  • Interference with hearing;
  • Problem swallowing;
  • Fever, sore throat or other symptoms of new infection;
  • Severe abdominal pain;
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes;
  • Easy bruising and/or bleeding.
Keep in Mind

Please, inform your doctor about the conditions you currently have or had in the past, the medicines you are taking, allergies you are aware of, pregnancy or breastfeeding. Use tetracycline only as prescribed by a physician and do not depart from their instructions! Do not self-prescribe tetracycline or any other antibiotic or recommend anyone to do so. Store the drug as required and dispose of expired leftovers. Do not take expired medications. Keep out of children’s reach. Tell your physician immediately about any severe side effects!