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Doxycycline is a common broad-spectrum antibiotic medication that has found great application in the treatment of different infections caused by bacteria and parasites. It belongs to two classes of drugs namely:

  1. Tetracycline antibiotics 
  2. Miscellaneous antibacterials

Usually, Doxycycline comes in tablet or capsule forms.

Uses of Doxycycline

Doxycycline is used for the following purposes:

  • Prevention of malaria while visiting malaria-endemic areas
  • Treatment of malaria in conjunction with quinine
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Respiratory/chest and dental infections 
  • Inflammatory processes like prostatitis
  • Treatment of river blindness in conjunction with Ivermectin
  • Infections of the skin 
  • Several parasitic infections (e.g. amebiasis)
  • Other rare conditions or diseases

How Doxycycline Works

Bacterial cells need proteins for survival, proliferation, and infectivity. They produce those proteins in order to cause harm to their host. Because Doxycycline is bacteriostatic, it reduces bacteria proliferation by arresting its protein-making process. 

Doxycycline also performs its antiinflammatory function by suppressing tissue necrosis factor (TNF-a) and Interleukins (IL-1beta and IL-6) which are necessary for inflammatory processes to occur. 

How to Use Doxycycline Pills

Patients should consume Doxycycline exactly as the doctor prescribed it. The drug can be administered with or without food. But if you experience stomach irritation after taking it without food, you may need to take your next dose with food or milk. Even if you start feeling better, you should not stop taking the drug before the treatment duration is over. 

Note: Sometimes you may be required to split some of the tablets to get the required dose. Also, if you are taking Doxycycline to prevent malaria, ensure you take it 24 - 48 hours before traveling to malaria-endemic areas

Precautions

Before using this drug, inform your doctor if you are allergic to sulfites, Doxycycline, or other tetracycline antibiotics.

Also, let them know if you have a recent history of any of the following:

  • Liver diseases
  • Intracranial hypertension
  • Kidney impairment
  • Asthma 
  • Isotretinoin/other retinoid usage.

The drug is contraindicated in pregnant and breastfeeding mothers as it is believed to affect skeletal development in unborn babies. Additionally, it has the ability to enter the breast milk and affect nursing babies. It is also believed to cause permanent tooth discoloration in children under 8 years old. 

Note: Doxycycline should only be given to children and pregnant women when the benefits outweigh the risks and when it is the only drug available. 

Doxycycline Dosing Information

The dosage of Doxycycline you should ingest is dependent on the severity of your condition and the results obtained from antimicrobial sensitivity tests. 

A brief summary of the dose for some conditions is given here:

  • For malaria (prophylaxis) in adults, 100 mg single dose 24 - 48 hours before traveling and 100 mg daily for one month after leaving the malaria endemic area. In children above 8 years, 2.2mg/Kg body weight is sufficient. 
  • For malaria treatment in adults and children that are at least 8 years, 100 mg two times daily and 2.2mg/Kg body weight respectively for 1 week.
  • For Acne and Actinomycosis, 200 mg in two divided doses on the first day and 100 mg daily as a maintenance dose.
  • For Lyme disease in children, 2 - 4 mg/kg two times daily for 3 - 4 weeks is recommended while the adult dose is 100 mg two times daily for the same period. You will have to consult your doctor for dosages of other conditions. Also, inform your doctor  If you miss your dose of Doxycycline, and avoid consuming a double dose to catch up on missed doses. 

You should call 911 or the poison control center in your area if you suspect an overdose or accidental poisoning 

Side Effects of Doxycycline

The common side effects reported by people are usually mild and include:

  • Photosensitivity
  • Nausea (feeling sick)
  • Headache
  • Vomiting 
  • Vaginal itching or discharge
  • Loss of appetite 

You would need to inform your doctor if these side effects persist or if you experience more serious side effects like:

  • Diarrhea (frequent passing of watery stool accompanied by weakness and thirst)
  • Pains on the joints and muscles
  • Nose bleeding or another unexplained bleeding
  • Ringing sensation in your ears
  • Photo-onycholysis 
  • Skin discoloration
  • Sore throat, lips, mouth, or tongue 
  • Swollen face
  • Abdominal pain with it without acid reflux
  • Difficulty in swallowing 

Interactions

Doxycycline interacts with over 190 drugs at varying degrees. Some of these drugs include:

  • Bcg vaccine 
  • Aminolevulinic acid
  • Cholera vaccine (live)
  • Ketoconazole 
  • Isotretinoin
  • Levoketoconazole
  • Live typhoid vaccine
  • Tretinoin
  • Vitamin A
  • Etretinate 
  • Mipomersen
  • Methoxyflurane
  • Lomitapide
  • Methicillin
  • Mannitol
  • Penicillin containing drugs 
  • Phenobarbital
  • Theophylline
  • Rifampin 
  • Secobarbital
  • Quinine and 
  • Warfarin

Doxycycline also interacts with these pathological conditions: 

  • Hepatotoxicity
  • Esophageal irritation and
  • Colitis

When alcohol and or multivitamins are used with Doxycycline, they could reduce its efficacy. 

Doxycycline FAQs 

  1. Is Doxycycline suitable for dogs? Answer: yes, it is well tolerated by all dog species.
  2. Can I consume alcohol while on Doxycycline therapy?  Answer: Doxycycline works better without alcohol and multivitamins. 
  3. Can Doxycycline be used to treat COVID-19? Answer: No, clinical trials reveal no evidence of the efficacy of Doxycycline on COVID-19.