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tetracycline

Pronunciation

Generic Name: tetracycline (TET tra SYE kleen)
Brand Name: Ala-Tet, Sumycin, ...show all 8 brand names

What is tetracycline?

Tetracycline is an antibiotic that fights bacteria in the body.

Tetracycline is used to treat many different bacterial infections, such as urinary tract infections, acne, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and others.

Tetracycline may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about tetracycline?

Do not use this medication if you are pregnant. It could cause harm to the unborn baby, including permanent discoloration of the teeth later in life. Tetracycline can make birth control pills less effective. Use a second method of birth control while you are taking tetracycline to keep from getting pregnant.

Tetracycline passes into breast milk and may affect bone and tooth development in a nursing baby. Do not take this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Slideshow: View Frightful (But Dead Serious) Drug Side Effects

Do not give tetracycline to a child younger than 8 years old. Tetracycline can cause permanent yellowing or graying of the teeth, and it can affect a child's growth.

Avoid exposure to sunlight or artificial UV rays (sunlamps or tanning beds). Tetracycline can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight and sunburn may result. Use a sunscreen (minimum SPF 15) and wear protective clothing if you must be out in the sun.

Do not take iron supplements, multivitamins, calcium supplements, antacids, or laxatives within 2 hours before or after taking tetracycline. These products can make tetracycline less effective.

Throw away any unused tetracycline when it expires or when it is no longer needed. Do not take any tetracycline after the expiration date on the label has passed. Expired tetracycline can cause a dangerous syndrome resulting in damage to the kidneys.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking tetracycline?

Do not use this medication if you are allergic to tetracycline, or to similar medicines such as demeclocycline (Declomycin), doxycycline (Adoxa, Doryx, Oracea, Vibramycin), or minocycline (Dynacin, Minocin, Solodyn, Vectrin).

Before taking tetracycline, tell your doctor if you have liver or kidney disease. You may not be able to take tetracycline, or you may require a dosage adjustment or special monitoring during therapy.

If you are using tetracycline to treat gonorrhea, your doctor may test you to make sure you do not also have syphilis, another sexually transmitted disease.

FDA pregnancy category D. This medication can cause harm to an unborn baby, including permanent discoloration of the teeth later in life. Do not use tetracycline without your doctor's consent if you are pregnant. Tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment. Tetracycline can make birth control pills less effective. Use a non-hormonal method of birth control (such as a condom, diaphragm, spermicide) to prevent pregnancy while you are taking tetracycline.

Tetracycline passes into breast milk and may affect bone and tooth development in a nursing infant. Do not take this medication without first talking to your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Children younger than 8 years old should not take tetracycline. Tetracycline can cause permanent tooth discoloration and can also affect a child's growth.

How should I take tetracycline?

Take this medication exactly as it was prescribed for you. Do not take the medication in larger amounts, or take it for longer than recommended by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label.

Take tetracycline with a full glass of water (8 ounces).

Take this medication on an empty stomach, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals.

Do not take tetracycline with milk or other dairy products, unless your doctor has told you to. Dairy products can make it harder for your body to absorb the medicine.

Shake the oral suspension (liquid) well just before you measure a dose. To be sure you get the correct dose, measure the liquid with a marked measuring spoon or medicine cup, not with a regular table spoon. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.

Take this medication for the entire length of time prescribed by your doctor. Your symptoms may get better before the infection is completely treated. Tetracycline will not treat a viral infection such as the common cold or flu. Do not give this medicine to another person, even if they have the same condition you have.

If you need to have any type of surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are taking tetracycline. You may need to stop using the medicine for a short time.

Throw away any unused tetracycline when it expires or when it is no longer needed. Do not take any tetracycline after the expiration date printed on the label. Using expired tetracycline can cause damage to your kidneys.

Store this medication at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the medicine at the next regularly scheduled time. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine. Overdose symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

What should I avoid while taking tetracycline?

Antibiotic medicines can cause diarrhea, which may be a sign of a new infection. If you have diarrhea that is watery or has blood in it, call your doctor. Do not use any medicine to stop the diarrhea unless your doctor has told you to.

Avoid exposure to sunlight or artificial UV rays (sunlamps or tanning beds). Tetracycline can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight and sunburn may result. Use a sunscreen (minimum SPF 15) and wear protective clothing if you must be out in the sun.

Do not take iron supplements, multivitamins, calcium supplements, antacids, or laxatives within 2 hours before or after taking tetracycline.

Tetracycline side effects

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.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

Tetracycline dosing information

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

Usual Adult Dose for Lyme Disease -- Erythema Chronicum Migrans:

500 mg orally every 6 hours for 10 to 30 days, depending on the nature and severity of the infection

Usual Adult Dose for Lyme Disease -- Neurologic:

500 mg orally every 6 hours for 21 to 30 days, depending on the nature and severity of the infection

Usual Adult Dose for Pneumonia:

500 mg orally every 6 hours for 10 to 21 days, depending on the nature and severity of the infection

Usual Adult Dose for Rickettsial Infection:

500 mg orally every 6 hours for 7 days

Usual Adult Dose for Upper Respiratory Tract Infection:

500 mg orally every 6 hours for 7 to 10 days, depending on the nature and severity of the infection

Usual Adult Dose for Psittacosis:

500 mg orally 4 times a day; initial treatment with IV doxycycline may be necessary for seriously ill patients
Duration: Treatment should continue at least 10 to 14 days after fever subsides to prevent relapse

Usual Adult Dose for Ornithosis:

500 mg orally 4 times a day; initial treatment with IV doxycycline may be necessary for seriously ill patients
Duration: Treatment should continue at least 10 to 14 days after fever subsides to prevent relapse

Usual Adult Dose for Syphilis -- Early:

500 mg orally every 6 hours for 14 days; alternatively, 30 to 40 g in divided doses over a period of 10 to 15 days has been recommended

Tetracycline should be used only if penicillins are contraindicated.

Usual Adult Dose for Syphilis -- Latent:

500 mg orally every 6 hours for 28 days; alternatively, 30 to 40 g in divided doses over a period of 10 to 15 days has been recommended

Tetracycline should be used only if penicillins are contraindicated.

Usual Adult Dose for Tertiary Syphilis:

500 mg orally every 6 hours for 28 days

Tetracycline should be used only if penicillins are contraindicated.

Usual Adult Dose for Nongonococcal Urethritis:

500 mg orally every 6 hours for 7 days

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

Usual Adult Dose for Gonococcal Infection -- Uncomplicated:

500 mg orally 4 times a day for 7 days

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

Neisseria gonorrhoeae is insufficiently susceptible to tetracycline; therefore, tetracycline is not recommended by the CDC for the treatment of gonorrhea. Oral doxycycline therapy is the preferred treatment for possible concurrent chlamydial infection in nonpregnant patients.

Usual Adult Dose for Cystitis:

500 mg orally every 6 hours for 3 to 7 days, depending on the nature and severity of the infection; recommended if no alternatives exist

Usual Adult Dose for Epididymitis -- Sexually Transmitted:

500 mg orally every 6 hours for 10 days

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

Doxycycline for 10 days, in conjunction with a single dose of a parenteral third-generation cephalosporin like ceftriaxone, has been specifically recommended by the CDC as primary treatment for sexually transmitted epididymitis. Tetracycline may be a reasonable substitute for doxycycline in this regimen.

Usual Adult Dose for Lymphogranuloma Venereum:

Although tetracyclines in general may be useful for the treatment of lymphogranuloma venereum, doxycycline is much more commonly used and is specifically recommended by the CDC as primary therapy for this disease. Therefore, the use of tetracycline for the treatment of this patient with lymphogranuloma venereum is not recommended. Doxycycline may be an effective alternative.

Usual Adult Dose for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease:

Although tetracyclines in general may be useful in combination with other agents for the treatment of pelvic inflammatory disease, doxycycline is much more commonly used and is specifically recommended by the CDC as a therapy for this disease. Therefore, the use of tetracycline for the treatment of this patient with pelvic inflammatory disease is not recommended. Doxycycline may be an effective alternative.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Bacterial Infection:

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

What other drugs will affect tetracycline?

Before taking tetracycline, tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following drugs:

  • cholesterol-lowering medications such as cholestyramine (Prevalite, Questran) or colestipol (Colestid);

  • isotretinoin (Accutane);

  • tretinoin (Renova, Retin-A, Vesanoid);

  • an antacid such as Tums, Rolaids, Milk of Magnesia, Maalox, and others;

  • a product that contains bismuth subsalicylate such as Pepto-Bismol;

  • minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and over-the-counter vitamin and mineral supplements;

  • a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin); or

  • a penicillin antibiotic such as amoxicillin (Amoxil, Trimox, others), penicillin (BeePen-VK, Pen-Vee K, Veetids, others), dicloxacillin (Dynapen), carbenicillin (Geocillin), oxacillin (Bactocill), and others.

This list is not complete and there may be other drugs that can interact with tetracycline. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist can provide more information about tetracycline.
  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 7.08. Revision Date: 2010-12-15, 5:01:39 PM.

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