Tetracycline belongs to the broad spectrum group of antibiotics. As it is a broad spectrum antibiotic, it is used to treat a variety of infections, ranging from upper respiratory tract infections to UTI's to sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea. Sometimes, it is also used on a long-term prophylactic basis, like for people that are traveling to countries where malaria is rampant. However, these are the treatment of choice for conditions like chlamydia, urethritis, rickettsia, tularemia, etc. They are also often prescribed for patients that have severe acne that does not get any better with topical treatments. However, despite its many uses, people have become wary of using this drug due to the many side effects that are seen. Given below is a list of possible side effects that could occur due to this drug.
Tetracyclines gained notoriety in the 60s and 70s, when it was seen that pregnant women who took this drug tended to have babies with yellow and stained teeth. These stains on the teeth emerged as the children grew up. This drug is contraindicated even in children below the age of eight years as it severely affects the dental health of the individual, and leads to permanent staining of teeth.
One of the other major side effects is that it leads to an increase in photosensitivity. People that use tetracycline have complained of increased photosensitivity and an increased risk of suffering from sunburns when exposed to UV light. Thus, one needs to take extra precaution when using this drug, like wearing extra sunscreen and avoiding going out in the sun for long.
One other serious potential side effect is that it may lead to an overall decrease in the immunity of a person. This is one of the main reasons why it is contraindicated in children, as their immune system is not developed. However, as this drug alters the functioning of the immune system, it may lead to an opportunistic infection in the bowel. Thus, people that are on long term therapy with tetracycline should be aware of this potential side effect.
There are quite a few more side effects of tetracycline. This drug may lead to a stomach problems and bowel upsets. Sometimes, some people may even have allergic reactions to it. People that suffer from kidney and liver diseases must not take this drug, because it may lead to hepatotoxicity and steatosis. Long term therapy may make a person susceptible to oral thrush and other opportunistic infections as well.
All of these side effects may not be seen in everyone, however, they are serious enough to warrant attention. If you happen to be on long-term therapy with this drug, be sure to check for any signs of these side effects, and if you do spot them, ask your healthcare practitioner for alternative treatment options.