Tetracycline is a broad-spectrum
antibiotic. It is effective against a wide variety of bacteria
including Hemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Mycoplasma
pneumoniae, Chlamydia psittaci, Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria
gonorrhoeae, and many others. The first drug of the tetracycline family,
chlortetracycline, was introduced in 1948.
PRESCRIBED FOR: Tetracycline is used for many different infections
including respiratory tract infections due to Hemophilus influenzae,
Streptococcus pneumoniae, or Mycoplasma pneumoniae. The drug also is
used for nongonococcal urethritis (due to Ureaplasma), Rocky mountain
spotted fever, typhus, chancroid, cholera, brucellosis, anthrax,
syphilis, and acne. Tetracycline is used in combination with other
medications to treat Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria associated with
ulcers of the stomach and duodenum.
DOSING: Tetracycline should be taken at least one hour before or two
hours after meals to prevent binding to food and the resulting reduced
absorption of the antibiotic. For most infections, it is taken two to
four times daily for 7 to 14 days.
SIDE EFFECTS: It is generally well-tolerated. The most common
side effects are diarrhea or loose stools, nausea, abdominal pain, and
vomiting. Tetracyclines may cause discoloration of teeth if used in
patients below 8 years of age. Exaggerated sunburn can occur with
this antibiotic; therefore, sunlight should be minimized during treatment.