Tetracycline

General

Pronunciation:
(tet ra sye' kleen)

Brand names:

  • Achromycin V®
  • Sumycin®

Why Prescribed

Tetracycline is used to treat infections caused by bacteria including pneumonia and other respiratory tract infections; ; certain infections of skin, eye, lymphatic, intestinal, genital and urinary systems; and certain other infections that are spread by ticks, lice, mites, and infected animals. It is also used along with other medications to treat acne. Tetracycline is also used to treat plague and tuleramia (serious infections that may be spread on purpose as part of a bioterror attack). It can also be used in patients who cannot be treated with penicillin to treat certain types of food poisoning, and anthrax (a serious infection that may be spread on purpose as part of a bioterror attack). Tetracycline is in a class of medications called tetracycline antibiotics. It works by preventing the growth and spread of bacteria.

Antibiotics such as tetracycline will not work for colds, flu, or other viral infections. Using antibiotics when they are not needed increases your risk of getting an infection later that resists antibiotic treatment.

How to Use

Tetracycline comes as a capsule to take by mouth. It is usually taken two or four times daily. Tetracycline should be taken on an empty stomach, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals or snacks. Drink a full glass of water with each dose of tetracycline. Do not take tetracycline with food, especially dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream. 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.

Other Uses

Tetracycline is also sometimes used to treat Lyme disease and malaria, and to prevent plague and tularemia in people who have been exposed to plague or tularemia germs. Talk to your doctor about the risks of using this medication for your condition.

This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Special Precautions

Before taking tetracycline,

Hypersensitivity

tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to tetracycline, minocycline, doxycycline, demeclocycline, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in the tetracycline capsule. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.

Drug Interaction

tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: anticoagulants ('blood thinners') such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven), and penicillin.

be aware that antacids containing magnesium, aluminum, calcium, or sodium bicarbonate, calcium supplements, zinc products, iron products, and laxatives containing magnesium interfere with tetracycline, making it less effective. Take tetracycline 2 hours before or 6 hours after antacids, calcium supplements, zinc products, and laxatives containing magnesium. Take tetracycline 2 hours before or 4 hours after iron preparations and vitamin products that contain iron. Take tetracycline 2 hours before or after zinc containing products.

Precautions and Contraindications

tell your doctor if you have or have ever had lupus (condition in which the immune system attacks many tissues and organs including the skin, joints, blood, and kidneys), or kidney disease.

Pregnancy, Fertility, Lactation

tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while taking tetracycline, call your doctor immediately. Tetracycline can harm the fetus.

Photosensitivity

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. Tell your doctor right away if you get a sunburn.

Miscellaneous Precautions

you should know that when tetracycline is used during pregnancy or in babies or children up to age 8, it can cause the teeth to become permanently stained. Tetracycline should not be used in children under age 8 unless your doctor decides it is needed.

Special Dietary Instructions

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.

Forgot 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.

Side Effects

Common Side Effects

Tetracycline may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • itching of the rectum or vagina
  • swollen tongue
  • black or hairy tongue
  • sore or irritated throat

Severe Side Effects

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • headache
  • blurred vision, seeing double, or loss of vision
  • skin rash
  • hives
  • swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, and eyes
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • joint stiffness or swelling
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • chest pain
  • a return of fever, sore throat, chills, or other signs of infection
  • watery or bloody stools , stomach cramps, or fever during treatment or for up to two or more months after stopping treatment

Tetracycline may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

Storage Considerations

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 light and excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).

Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.

It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org

Emergency Overdose

In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.

Additional Information

Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your response to tetracycline.

Before having any laboratory test, tell your doctor and the laboratory personnel that you are taking tetracycline.

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.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.

This branded product is no longer on the market. Generic alternatives may be available.

Copyright

This report on medications is for your information only, and is not considered individual patient advice. Because of the changing nature of drug information, please consult your physician or pharmacist about specific clinical use.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc. represents that the information provided hereunder was formulated with a reasonable standard of care, and in conformity with professional standards in the field. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc. makes no representations or warranties, express or implied, including, but not limited to, any implied warranty of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose, with respect to such information and specifically disclaims all such warranties. Users are advised that decisions regarding drug therapy are complex medical decisions requiring the independent, informed decision of an appropriate health care professional, and the information is provided for informational purposes only. The entire monograph for a drug should be reviewed for a thorough understanding of the drug's actions, uses and side effects. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc. does not endorse or recommend the use of any drug. The information is not a substitute for medical care.

AHFS® Patient Medication Information. © Copyright, 2018. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 4500 East-West Highway, Suite 900, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.

Selected Revisions: August 15, 2017.

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