Doxycycline is a medicine in the class of antibiotics called tetracyclines. It is a broad spectrum, synthetic antibiotic. Doxycycline affects some bacteria, including those that cause infections to the respiratory tract. It is also widely used to treat malaria and Lyme disease. It accomplishes this through a binding process that blocks the synthesis of certain proteins. Antibiotics cannot prevent or treat viral infections such as colds or flu. As with most medications, doxycycline has side effects and contraindications. Before taking this medication, make sure to tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking, and give him a complete health history.
Alcohol use while taking doxycycline is not prohibited, but it is not recommended either. One to two drinks should not cause an adverse effect. However, studies published in the American Society of Microbiology Journal and the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology have yielded interesting results in patients who binge-drink or have histories of long-term alcohol abuse. Patients who consume alcohol heavily or long-term eliminate the doxycycline from their systems more quickly than healthy patients. Because of these findings, the prescribing doctor might suggest a more frequent dosage, sometimes twice daily, for patients with this background.
Things to Avoid
Other factors that can affect the rate of elimination of doxycycline from your system are the use of antacids, phenobarbitals, ferrous sulfate (an iron supplement), some vitamins, calcium supplements and magnesium-based laxatives. If possible, avoid taking these at the same time as your antibiotics and tell your doctor if these factors apply to you. The doctor might recommend taking your supplements a few hours before or after taking your doxycycline doses. Also, avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight.
Doxycycline can cause sunburn, darkening of your urine, blurry vision, headaches, diarrhea, skin rash or fatigue. This medicine can also cause nausea, vomiting and yeast infections. Contact your physician if any of these side effects are severe or persistent. Liver damage is also possible, although rare.
Doxycycline use can reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptives. Take extra caution by using a supplemental form of birth control while taking this antibiotic. Doxycycline also could cause your eyes and skin to be sensitive to light. Wear sun protective clothing, sunblock and sunglasses during the course of this medication. If you are pregnant or if you become pregnant during your course of antibiotics, inform your doctor. Doxycycline use can harm the developing fetus.