Tetracycline antibiotics have been used for more than 60 years to treat a variety of bacterial infections such as acne, respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted infections, and other infections caused by bacteria. Tetracyclines are classified into four subgroups: tetracycline, doxycycline, minocycline, and demeclocycline. These antibiotics are usually safe and effective but like all drugs, they can cause unwanted side effects.
In this article, we will look at tetracycline antibiotics side effects in detail.
1. Gastrointestinal side effects
Tetracycline antibiotics can cause a range of gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and anorexia. These effects usually occur when the drugs are taken on an empty stomach, and they can be reduced by taking the medications with food or milk.
Tetracycline antibiotics can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight, a condition known as photosensitivity. Photosensitivity can cause skin rash, erythema, itching, and swelling when the skin is exposed to sunlight or UV light. To avoid photosensitivity, patients should wear protective clothing and sunglasses and use sunscreen or avoid sun exposure.
3. Tooth discoloration
Tetracycline antibiotics can cause tooth discoloration when given to children under the age of eight and to pregnant women. The antibiotics can permanently stain the teeth, causing yellow, gray, or brown discoloration. Pregnant women should avoid taking tetracycline antibiotics during the last trimester of pregnancy and children under the age of eight should not be given tetracycline antibiotics.
Tetracycline antibiotics can cause liver damage, a condition known as hepatotoxicity. The risk of hepatotoxicity is higher in patients with pre-existing liver disease, and patients taking other hepatotoxic drugs. Symptoms of hepatotoxicity include jaundice, fatigue, nausea, and abdominal pain. Patients taking tetracycline antibiotics should be monitored for signs of hepatotoxicity.
Tetracycline antibiotics can cause kidney damage, a condition known as nephrotoxicity. The risk of nephrotoxicity is higher in patients with pre-existing kidney disease, and patients taking other nephrotoxic drugs. Symptoms of nephrotoxicity include proteinuria, hematuria, edema, and hypertension. Patients taking tetracycline antibiotics should be monitored for signs of nephrotoxicity.
6. Hematological side effects
Tetracycline antibiotics can cause hematological side effects such as anemia, leukopenia, and thrombocytopenia. These effects are rare but can be serious. Patients taking tetracycline antibiotics should be monitored for signs of hematological side effects.
7. Allergic reactions
Tetracycline antibiotics can cause allergic reactions such as skin rash, urticaria, pruritus, and angioedema. Patients with a history of allergy to tetracycline antibiotics should not take these medications. Patients experiencing allergic reactions should stop taking the drugs and seek medical attention.
Tetracycline antibiotics can cause superinfection, a condition in which a new infection develops due to the growth of resistant bacteria. Tetracycline antibiotics can kill normal bacterial flora in the body, allowing resistant bacteria to multiply. Superinfection can cause symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal symptoms.
9. Renal tubular damage
Tetracycline antibiotics can cause damage to the renal tubules, which can lead to renal dysfunction. This condition is usually reversible, but it can be serious in some cases. Patients taking tetracycline antibiotics should be monitored for signs of renal dysfunction.
10. Central nervous system effects
Tetracycline antibiotics can cause central nervous system effects such as headache, dizziness, and vertigo. These effects are usually mild and transient, but they can be serious in some cases. Patients experiencing central nervous system effects should stop taking the drugs and seek medical attention.
Tetracycline antibiotics are widely used for the treatment of bacterial infections and are generally safe and effective. However, like all drugs, they can cause unwanted side effects. Patients taking tetracycline antibiotics should be monitored for signs of gastrointestinal, photosensitivity, tooth discoloration, hepatotoxicity, nephrotoxicity, hematological side effects, allergic reactions, superinfection, renal tubular damage, and central nervous system effects. Patients experiencing any side effects should stop taking the drugs and seek medical attention.