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tetracycline

Generic Name: tetracycline (TET tra SYE kleen)
Brand Name: Ala-Tet, Brodspec, Panmycin, Sumycin, Tetracap, Tetracon, Robitet 500, Emtet-500

What is tetracycline?

Tetracycline is an antibiotic that fights infection caused by bacteria.

Tetracycline is used to treat many different bacterial infections of the skin, intestines, respiratory tract, urinary tract, genitals, lymph nodes, and other body systems. Tetracycline is often used in treating severe acne, or sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea, or chlamydia. Tetracycline is also used to treat infections you can get from direct contact with infected animals or contaminated food.

In some cases, tetracycline is used when penicillin or another antibiotic cannot be used to treat serious infections such as Anthrax, Listeria, Clostridium, Actinomyces, and others.

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

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

Children younger than 8 years old should not take tetracycline.

Using tetracycline during pregnancy could harm the unborn baby or cause permanent tooth discoloration later in the baby's life.

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

You should not use this medicine if you are allergic to tetracycline or similar medicines such as demeclocycline, doxycycline, minocycline, or tigecycline.

To make sure tetracycline is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • liver disease; or

  • kidney disease.

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.

Taking this medicine during pregnancy may affect tooth and bone development in the unborn baby. Taking tetracycline during the last half of pregnancy can cause permanent tooth discoloration later in the baby's life. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or if you become pregnant while using this medicine.

Tetracycline can make birth control pills less effective. Ask your doctor about using a non-hormonal birth control (condom, diaphragm with spermicide) to prevent pregnancy.

Tetracycline can pass into breast milk and may affect bone and tooth development in a nursing infant. Do not breast-feed while you are taking tetracycline.

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?

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Take tetracycline on an empty stomach, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal.

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. Measure liquid medicine with the dosing syringe provided, or with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.

If you need surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using tetracycline.

If you use this medicine long-term, you may need frequent medical tests.

Use this medicine for the full prescribed length of time. Your symptoms may improve before the infection is completely cleared. Skipping doses may also increase your risk of further infection that is resistant to antibiotics. Tetracycline will not treat a viral infection such as the flu or a common cold.

Do not share this medicine with another person, even if they have the same symptoms you have.

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

Throw away any unused tetracycline after the expiration date on the label has passed. Taking expired tetracycline can cause damage to your kidneys.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking tetracycline?

For at least 2 hours before or 2 hours after taking tetracycline: avoid taking iron supplements, multivitamins, calcium supplements, antacids, or laxatives.

Antibiotic medicines can cause diarrhea, which may be a sign of a new infection. If you have diarrhea that is watery or bloody, call your doctor. Do not use anti-diarrhea medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Avoid exposure to sunlight or tanning beds. Tetracycline can make you sunburn more easily. Wear protective clothing and use sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) when you are outdoors.

Tetracycline side effects

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

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash;

  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms;

  • pale or yellowed skin, easy bruising or bleeding;

  • any signs of a new infection.

Common side effects may include:

  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, upset stomach, loss of appetite;

  • white patches or sores inside your mouth or on your lips;

  • swollen tongue, black or "hairy" tongue, trouble swallowing;

  • sores or swelling in your rectal or genital area; or

  • vaginal itching or discharge.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Side Effects (complete list)

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?

Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:

  • any other antibiotic;

  • isotretinoin (Accutane);

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

  • a blood thinner (warfarin, Coumadin, Jantoven);

  • an antacid or laxative medicine; or

  • a vitamin or mineral supplement that contains iron, zinc, calcium, or magnesium.

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with tetracycline, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

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: 8.01.

Date modified: December 03, 2017
Last reviewed: January 06, 2017

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