Tetracycline antibiotics are used to fight bacteria by stopping its growth in the human body and thus, treat infections. Tetracycline is a crystalline, yellow and odorless powder that is stable in air, but darkens when exposed to sunlight. When combined with anti-ulcer drugs, tetracycline antibiotics can also treat specific stomach ulcers. They could also be alternatively treat Lyme disease and prevent anthrax. These antibiotics only treat bacterial infections and do not work with viral infections like flu and the common cold. Frequent, unnecessary or overuse of these antibiotics can make them less effective.
Tetracycline Antibiotics Uses
Tetracycline antibiotics are used to stop the spread and growth of bacteria. They only treat or prevent infections strongly suspected or proven to be caused by bacteria. It treats pneumonia, gonorrhea, acne, chlamydia and infections in the urinary and respiratory tracts. It is also used to treat tularemia caused by Francisella tularensis, plaque brought by Yersinia pestis and Vibro-caused cholera. The medication can be used with other drugs to treat some diseases like Brucellosis wherein it is taken with aminoglycoside.
Tetracycline can be an effective alternative medication for:
- Anthrax brought by Bacillus anthracis
- Actinomycosis brought Actinomyces species
- Infections due to Clostridium species, Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Listeria monocytogenes
- Syphilis brought by Treponema pallidum and yaws by pertenue
- Vincent’s infection due to Fusobacterium fusiforme
Tetracycline is in the form of capsule or liquid and taken orally, mostly two to four times a day, on an empty stomach at least an hour before or two hours after snacks or meals. It should be taken with water only (full glass) and not with food, especially dairy products like ice cream, cheese, yogurt and milk, as it will be difficult for the body to absorb it. The antibiotic should be taken exactly as directed.
Tetracycline Antibiotics Side Effects
The medication should not be given to someone who is 7 years old or younger. It can also affect the growth of a child and will result to graying or yellowing of the teeth.
Tetracycline antibiotics may cause the following side effects:
- Stomach upset, white sores on the lips or in the mouth
- Swelling of genital or rectal area
- Swollen tongue, trouble in swallowing
- Vaginal discharge or itching
Those taking the medication should stop and call their doctor immediately if they suffer the following:
- Blistering, red skin rash and peeling
- Blurred vision, dizziness and headache
- Flu, body aches, fever and chills
- Less or not urinating; dark urine
- Loss of appetite, easy bruising, and bleeding
- Pain in the upper part of the stomach that spreads to the back, vomiting, nausea and faster heart rate
- Yellowed or pale skin or eyes, weakness or confusion
Tetracycline Antibiotics Interactions
Tetracycline can lessen the effectiveness of birth control. The drug can pass into the mother’s breast milk, and might affect the development of the teeth and bones of the baby. Hence, women should consult their doctor if they are either using birth control or breastfeeding their baby.
Supplements with magnesium like antacids, iron products, calcium and laxatives can make tetracycline less effective. People taking tetracycline should avoid or wear clothes so as not to expose them to the sun.