Generic Name: Tetracycline Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.

Know the basics

What is tetracycline used for?

Tetracycline is used to treat a wide variety of infections, including acne. It is an antibiotic that works by stopping the growth of bacteria.

This antibiotic treats only bacterial infections. It will not work for viral infections (e.g., common cold, flu). Unnecessary use or overuse of any antibiotic can lead to its decreased effectiveness.

Tetracycline can also be used in combination with anti-ulcer medications to treat certain types of stomach ulcers.

How should I take tetracycline?

Tetracycline works best when taken on an empty stomach 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals. If stomach upset occurs, ask your doctor if you can take this medication with food. Take each dose with a full glass of water (8 ounces or 240 milliliters) unless your doctor directs you otherwise. Do not lie down for 10 minutes after taking this medication. For this reason, do not take it right before bedtime.

Take this medication 2-3 hours before or after taking any products containing magnesium, aluminum, or calcium. Some examples include antacids, quinapril, certain forms of didanosine (chewable/dispersible buffered tablets or pediatric oral solution), vitamins/minerals, and sucralfate. Follow the same instructions with dairy products (e.g., milk, yogurt), calcium-enriched juice, bismuth subsalicylate, iron, and zinc. These products bind with tetracycline, preventing its full absorption.

Dosage is based on your medical condition and response to therapy. For use in children older than 8 years of age, the dosage is also based on weight.

Antibiotics work best when the amount of medicine in your body is kept at a constant level. Therefore, take this drug at evenly spaced intervals.

Continue to take this medication until the full-prescribed amount is finished even if symptoms disappear after a few days. Stopping the medication too early may allow bacteria to continue to grow, which may result in a relapse of the infection.

Inform your doctor if your condition persists or worsens.

How do I store tetracycline?

Tetracycline is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store tetracycline in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of tetracycline that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush tetracycline down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Know the precautions & warnings

What should I know before using tetracycline?

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to medicines in this group or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.

Pediatric

Tetracyclines may cause permanent discoloration of teeth and slow down the growth of bones. These medicines should not be given to children 8 years of age and younger unless directed by the child’s doctor.

Geriatric

Many medicines have not been studied specifically in older people. Therefore, it may not be known whether they work exactly the same way they do in younger adults or if they cause different side effects or problems in older people. There is no specific information comparing use of tetracyclines in the elderly with use in other age groups.

Is it safe to take tetracycline during pregnancy or breast-feeding?

There isn’t enough information about the safety of using this medication during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication.

Know the side effects

What are the side effects of tetracycline?

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using tetracycline and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • severe headache, dizziness, blurred vision;
  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms;
  • severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash;
  • urinating less than usual or not at all;
  • pale or yellowed skin, dark colored urine, fever, confusion or weakness;
  • severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate;
  • loss of appetite, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or
  • easy bruising or bleeding, unusual weakness.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • sores or swelling in your rectal or genital area;
  • mild nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach upset;
  • white patches or sores inside your mouth or on your lips;
  • swollen tongue, trouble swallowing; or
  • vaginal itching or discharge.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Know the interactions

What drugs may interact with tetracycline?

Tetracycline may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Using medicines in this class with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with a medication in this class or change some of the other medicines you take.

  • Acitretin
  • Methoxyflurane

Using medicines in this class with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Amoxicillin
  • Ampicillin
  • Atazanavir
  • Bacampicillin
  • Bexarotene
  • Cloxacillin
  • Dicloxacillin
  • Digoxin
  • Etretinate
  • Isotretinoin
  • Methicillin
  • Methotrexate
  • Nafcillin
  • Oxacillin
  • Penicillin G
  • Penicillin G Benzathine
  • Penicillin G Procaine
  • Penicillin V
  • Piperacillin
  • Pivampicillin
  • Sultamicillin
  • Temocillin
  • Tretinoin

Does food or alcohol interact with tetracycline?

Tetracycline may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with tetracycline?

Tetracycline may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have, especially:

  • Diabetes insipidus (water diabetes)—Demeclocycline may make the condition worse.
  • Kidney disease (does not apply to doxycycline or minocycline)—Patients with kidney disease may have an increased chance of side effects.
  • Liver disease—Patients with liver disease may have an increased chance of side effects if they use doxycycline or minocycline.

Understand the dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using this medication.

What is the dose of tetracycline for an adult?

Usual Adult Dose for Acne

500 mg orally twice a day for 2 weeks or more, depending on the nature and severity of the infection

Usual Adult Dose for Bronchitis

500 mg orally every 6 hours for 7 to 10 days, depending on the nature and severity of the infection; may be given for 4 to 5 days a week during winter months as prophylaxis against chronic infectious bronchitis

Usual Adult Dose for Brucellosis

500 mg orally 4 times a day for 3 weeks given with streptomycin 1 g IM twice a day the first week and once a day the second week

Usual Adult Dose for Chlamydia Infection

Uncomplicated urethral, endocervical, or rectal infection: 500 mg orally 4 times a day for at least 7 days

The patient’s sexual partner(s) should also be evaluated/treated.

Oral doxycycline therapy is preferred by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the treatment of chlamydial infections in nonpregnant patients.

Usual Adult Dose for Helicobacter pylori Infection

500 mg orally every 6 hours for 14 days given in conjunction with bismuth, metronidazole, and an H2 blocker

Usual Adult Dose for Lyme Disease – Arthritis

500 mg orally every 6 hours for 14 to 30 days, depending on the nature and severity of the infection

Usual Adult Dose for Lyme Disease – Carditis

500 mg orally every 6 hours for 14 to 30 days, depending on the nature and severity of the infection

What is the dose of tetracycline for a child?

Above 8 years of age: 25 to 50 mg/kg orally per day divided in 4 equal doses

How is tetracycline available?

Tetracycline is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

Tablet 250 mg; 500 mg

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of tetracycline, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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