Tetracycline is a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Tetracycline is used to treat bacterial infections, including acne; certain types of pneumonia and other respiratory tract infections; infections of skin, genital (including gonorrhea and syphilis), and urinary systems; and the infection that causes stomach ulcers (Helicobacter pylori). It may also be used as an alternative to other medications for the treatment of Lyme disease and for the treatment and prevention of anthrax (after inhalational exposure). Tetracycline is in a class of medications called tetracycline antibiotics, which also includes doxycycline, minocycline, and oxytetracycline.


How tetracycline is used

Tetracycline comes as a capsule and suspension (liquid) to take by mouth. It is usually taken two to four times daily, and should be taken on an empty stomach, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals or snacks. A full glass of water should be drunk with each dose of tetracycline. This medication should not be taken with food, especially dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream. The directions on the prescription label should be followed carefully, and ask a doctor or pharmacist asked to explain any part of the prescription that is not clear. Tetracycline should be taken exactly as directed.


Possible side effects

Possible adverse effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and, less commonly, rash and itching. Tetracycline may discolor developing teeth and is therefore not usually prescribed for children under the age of 12 or for pregnant women. Tetracycline may worsen kidney function in people with a kidney disorder.