General overview

Tetracycline comes under the group of broad-spectrum antibiotics which is typically used to treat bacterial infections. Tetracycline is named after their chemical molecular appearance as “tetra” means four and “cycline” means hydrocarbon rings derivation. Tetracycline is produced by the Streptomyces genus of “Actinobacteria” which gives an intense bacteriostatic effect against bacteria by the process called reversible binding to the 30S ribosomal subunit of the bacterial cell and blocking aminoacyl tRNA from attaching to the ribosome acceptor site. In some extent it can bind to the bacterial 50S ribosomal subunit. Through this procedure some crucial bacterial proteins are restricted to produce causing damage to cytoplasmic membrane and making intracellular components to leak out of bacterial cells. Tetracycline can be subdivided according to source which it comes. Naturally occurring ones include, Tetracycline, Chlortetracycline, Oxytetracycline and Demeclocycline while Semi-synthetic are Lymecycline, Meclocycline, Methacycline, Minocycline and Rolitetracycline. According to duration of action again tetracycline drug genre can be subdivided into Short-acting having a half-life of 6-8 hours, including Tetracycline, Chlortetracycline and Oxytetracycline and Intermediate-acting which has a half-life of around 12 hours, including Demeclocycline and Methacycline.


Major Uses

The uses of tetracycline typically come under 2 categories, although it’s widely used as an antibiotic. It is used to treat a range of infections, from bacterial infections to even acne. As an antibiotic it primarily stops the growth of bacteria. Antibiotics are not effective in viral infections due to the specific proliferative methods of viruses. Overuse or unnecessary use of any antibiotic including tetracycline can lead to its reduced effectiveness. In combination with anti-ulcer medications, tetracycline can be used to treat certain types of stomach ulcers.

Instructions to be followed

Avoid using this medication if you are allergic to tetracycline or to analogous medicines like doxycycline, demeclocycline or minocycline. Inform your doctor if you have kidney or liver disease, before going to use this medicine. Kidney or liver diseases may restrict you from using this medicine completely or else you may require a dosage adjustment during therapy. Tetracycline can be used to treat gonorrhea after your doctor confirms you do not also have syphilis or other sexually transmitted disease. It also can harm to the fetus causing permanent discoloration of the teeth later in life. If you are pregnant, be cautious to use this medication with the consent of your doctor. Inform your doctor if you’ve become pregnant during treatment. Also your birth control pills may be less effective, during this treatment and using a non-hormonal method birth control such as condom, diaphragm, and spermicide will be more effective. Tetracycline can filter into breast milk and sometimes affect bone and tooth development of the feeding child. First talk to your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby before using this drug. Children below the age of 8 years should not take this medicine as permanent tooth discoloration and adverse child’s growth can result.

How should I take tetracycline?

Following your practitioner’s advice while taking this drug is very important since incorrect usage may cause large long term effects. Avoid taking tetracycline in larger amounts, or continuing longer than your doctor’s recommendation. Take tetracycline with 8 ounce full glass of water. Always take this medication on an empty stomach, at least 2 hours after a meal or 1 hour before. Avoid taking tetracycline with any kind of dairy products, unless recommended by your doctor as dairy products make the absorption harder. Shake the oral suspension well before measuring the dose. Measure the fluid with a marked measuring spoon or medicine cup, to make sure you’ve took the right amount. Don’t miss any dose within the prescribed time. Correct dosage use may eradicate your symptoms before the infection is completely treated. Although if someone have the same condition you have, avoid giving this medicine to him without a proper medical prescription. If you are scheduled for a surgery, inform the surgeon that you use tetracycline since you may need to avoid using the medicine for a short time before and after the surgery.  Using expired tetracycline can cause chronic damage to your kidneys. Remember to store tetracycline at room temperature away from heat and moisture.

What happens if I miss a dose?

As soon as you remember, take the dose. If you’ve remembered right before your next scheduled dose, skip the dose that was missed. Avoid taking extra medicine to compensate the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

If you think you have used too much of tetracycline at once, seek emergency medical attention. If you’ve overdosed, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can be the resultant symptoms.


What should I avoid?

All the antibiotic medicines may sometimes cause diarrhea, which can be a sign of another infection. Call your doctor if you have diarrhea that is watery or has blood in it while taking this medicine. Avoid using any medicine to stop diarrhea except on your doctor’s prescription. Do not get exposed to sunlight or artificial UV rays, since tetracycline increases your skin sensitivity to sunlight and other UV forms causing sunburns. You can use a sunscreen (minimum SPF 15) and wear protective clothing as an alternative if you must be out in the sun. Avoid taking multivitamins, calcium supplements, iron supplements, antacids, or laxatives within the first 2 hours before or after a dose.

What are the possible side effects?

Tetracycline side effects are not common, but photo toxicity comes first in the list which increases the risk of sunburn under exposure to light from the sun or UV sources. Seek emergency medical help if you have any of the below mentioned signs of an allergic reaction including: difficulty breathing, hives, swelling of your lips, tongue, face or throat. Stop using tetracycline at once and inform your doctor if you indicate the following combinations of severe symptoms:

Some people may indicate less serious tetracycline side effects including:


What other drugs will affect tetracycline?

Informing your doctor if you are taking any of the following drugs is crucial:

The list is not complete as there may be other drugs that can interact with tetracycline. Informing your doctor about the prescription you currently use and over-the-counter medications you use such as minerals, herbal products, vitamins and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Stop using a new medication within the time you use tetracycline, without the proper guidance of your doctor.