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Tetracycline is used in the treatment of respiratory tract infection, urinary tract infection, sexually transmitted disease, eye infection, skin infection, rickettsial infection (infection caused by organism called as rickettsia) and as an alternative drug in treatment of leptospirosis (an infectious bacterial disease occurring in rodents, dogs, and other mammals, which can be transmitted to humans), brucellosis (headache, sickness, fever, swollen lymph nodes), psittacosis (headache, nose bleeds, shivering and fever), plague (painful swelling of the lymph nodes), cholera (severe sickness and diarrhoea), gas-gangrene (is a bacterial infection that produces gas in tissues in necrosed tissues) and tetanus (a serious bacterial disease that affects nervous system, leading to painful muscle contractions, particularly of jaw and neck muscles).

How it works

Tetracycline is a broad spectrum antibiotic that belongs to class of drugs called tetracyclines. It acts by inhibiting the growth and multiplication of bacteria by interfering in their protein synthesis mechanism.

Common side effects

Changes in skin color, Dark colored urine, Diarrhoea, Headache, Rectal itching, Skin redness, Sore mouth, Stomach upset, Tooth discolouration, Vaginal itching, Yellow discoloration of skin, Yellow discoloration of eye


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Expert advice

  • Caution is advised while taking tetracycline if you are sensitive to light; suffer from myasthenia gravis (neuromuscular disease characterized by very weak muscles and unusual tiredness), liver and kidney disorder.
  • Do not take tetracycline with milk, milk containing product or food derived from milk.
  • Do not take iron and calcium supplements, antacids, or laxatives within 2 hours before or after taking tetracycline. 
  • Avoid exposure to sunlight as tetracyclines may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.
  • Inform your doctor if you have intolerance to sucrose or lactose.

Content on this page was last updated on 30 September, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)