URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682098.html

Tetracycline

pronounced as (tet ra sye' kleen)

Why is this medication 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 should this medicine be used?

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 for this medicine

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.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking tetracycline,

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

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

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?

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

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).

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

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.

In case of emergency/overdose

In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.

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.

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.

Brand names

  • Achromycin V®
  • Sumycin®

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

Last Revised - 08/15/2017