Why is this medication prescribed?
Tetracycline, an antibiotic, eliminates bacteria that cause infections, including lyme disease, pneumonia, acne, venereal (sexually transmitted) disease, bladder infections, and the infection that causes ulcers (Helicobacter pylori). Antibiotics will not work for colds, flu, or other viral infections.
This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
How should this medicine be used?
Tetracycline comes as a capsule and tablet to take by mouth and a topical solution to be applied to the skin. Doses should be taken as far apart as possible throughout the day. For example, if your doctor tells you to take tetracycline four times a day, take a dose every 6 hours.
Oral tetracycline should be taken on an empty stomach, 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals. Drink a full glass of water with each dose.
Tetracycline topical solution usually is applied to the skin twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take tetracycline exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking tetracycline,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to tetracycline, minocycline, doxycycline, or any other drugs.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially antacids, anticoagulants ('blood thinners') such as warfarin (Coumadin), penicillin, and vitamins. Tetracycline may decrease the effectiveness of some oral contraceptives; another method of birth control should be used while taking this drug.
- be aware that antacids, calcium supplements, iron products, and laxatives containing magnesium interfere with tetracycline, making it less effective. Take tetracycline 1 hour before or 2 hours after antacids (including sodium bicarbonate), calcium supplements, and laxatives containing magnesium. Take tetracycline 2 hours before or 3 hours after iron preparations and vitamin products that contain iron.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had diabetes or kidney or liver disease.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking tetracycline, call your doctor immediately. Tetracycline can harm the fetus.
- plan to avoid unnecessary or prolonged exposure to sunlight and to wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Tetracycline may make your skin sensitive to sunlight.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Drink a full glass of water with each dose of tetracycline. Take tetracycline on an empty stomach, 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals or snacks. Do not take tetracycline with food, especially dairy products such as milk and cheese. Take tetracycline with crackers or a snack (no dairy products) only if you experience an upset stomach.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Although side effects from tetracycline are not common, they can occur. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- upset stomach
- itching of the rectum or vagina
- sore mouth
- stinging or burning of the skin while using the topical tetracycline solution
- yellowing of the skin or eyes while taking tetracycline tablets or capsules (Topical tetracycline solution use results in a harmless yellow color that can be washed off.)
If you experience the following symptom, call your doctor immediately:
What storage conditions are needed for this medicine?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call your local poison controlcenter at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsedor is not breathing, call local emergency services at911.
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your response to tetracycline.
If you have diabetes, tetracycline causes false results in some tests for sugar in the urine. Check with your doctor before changing your diet or the dosage of your diabetes medicine.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Your prescription is probably not refillable. If you still have symptoms of infection after you finish the tetracycline, call your doctor.