What is Tetracycline? Antibiotics Review

SimpleNursing Editorial Team Dec 19, 2018
Tetracyclines pills and tablets

Jump to Sections

  1. What is tetracycline used to treat?
  2. Tetracycline Antibiotics List
  3. Tetracycline Nursing Considerations
  4. Tetracycline Side Effects

For individuals prone to acne eruptions, tetracycline is quite a familiar ingredient in their daily skincare routine. Tetracycline is a type of antibiotic medication that is used to treat some bacterial infections, which include acne.

Tetracycline primarily works to cease the growth and the worsening of bacteria. This type of antibiotic can only ward off bacterial infections and does not apply to infections caused by viruses.

What is tetracycline used to treat?

Tetracycline is an antibiotic drug primarily given to patients with bacterial infections, including acne eruptions on the face and in various places of the body. Patients taking the drug should not be exposed to sunlight, will have tooth stains, and should take the pill at least an hour before meals.

Tetracycline Mechanism of Action

Tetracyclines interfere with protein synthesis and are composed of natural and semisynthetic compounds. They are used in lieu of penicillin when there is an allergy present to penicillin or cephalosporins.

Tetracyclines act by selectively inhibiting the 30S ribosomal subunit, which hinders the binding of aminoacyl-tRNA to the acceptor site on the mRNA-ribosome complex. As a result, cell growth and replication are impeded, leading to a loss of cellular function.

Tetracycline Antibiotics List

  • Doxycycline
  • Tetracycline

Tetracycline Nursing Considerations

With tetracycline, you can associate the medication with cycling or someone riding a bicycle. Here are the hints that will help you get through learning tetracycline:

1. Tetracycline causes photosensitivity.

Going back to cycling, when a biker is out in the sun, the person is expected to get sunburned – it’s the same with tetracycline. Patients who take tetracycline will experience a breakdown in bacteria, directly affecting the skin’s epithelium. So patients should limit their exposure to the sun while taking it.

2. Tetracycline causes teeth stains.

Tooth discoloration with yellowish stains is another side effect that manifests with tetracycline administration. To relate this to the cyclist analogy, when a person goes on a motorcycle or a bicycle, bugs tend to hit the windshield, their helmet, or even the teeth, causing stains.

3. Tetracycline needs to be taken without food.

Cycling is a rigorous sport that should not be done on a full stomach. Therefore, eating before working out is not allowed to avoid throwing up. 

This is the same with tetracycline – it should not be taken with food, especially milk. The best time to take tetracycline is before meals, preferably an hour or two before eating.

Tetracycline Side Effects

Sharing side effects are essential in patient teaching. While the above-mentioned side effects are common with tetracycline medications, other mild side effects can occur while taking the drug, namely:

  • Nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting
  • Dizziness and headache
  • Sore throat
  • Discomfort around the rectal area

On the other hand, the serious side effects that require immediate medical attention are the following:

  • Muscle pain
  • Painful and difficulty swallowing
  • Discoloration of the nails
  • Decreased urine output (a common sign of kidney affectation)
  • Tingling or numbness of the extremities
  • Allergic reaction

Take Your Pharmacology Study Skills to the Next Level

Antibiotic medications have numerous classes, so remembering each antibiotic can be taxing. 

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