safety medical

Doxycycline Side Effects

Doxycycline is a tetracycline antibiotic that is used as an antibacterial agent in the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, pneumonia, malaria and urinary tract infections. As is the case with most drugs, doxycycline also has certain side-effects. In this article we shall explore this in a little more detail.

Neurological side-effects

Neurological side-effects include side-effects that affect the nervous system. The common side-effect associated with doxycycline use is headache. Some patients also complain of drowsiness and dizziness and tingling sensations in areas exposed to sunlight. A clinical condition called as a ‘benign intracranial hypertension’ has been associated with tetracycline use. It involves an increase in the pressure around the brain which can cause visual disturbance in some patients.

Gastrointestinal side-effects

This involves side-effects that affect the abdomen. Typically, patients can experience nausea and vomiting following oral intake of doxycycline. Complaints of indigestion are common. Increased stomach acid production and abdominal pain and also recognise side-effects. In the rare cases, patients may develop pain in the gums and a dry mouth.

Tetracyclines are notorious in causing staining of the tooth enamel when taken for prolonged periods of time. However, this side-effect is a rather rare with doxycycline use.

Musculoskeletal side-effects

Patients that have taken doxycycline sometimes complain of muscle and joint aches. This however is not very common.

Skin side-effects

Skin side-effects are rather rare with 4 in 10 patients complaining of a skin rash. Some patients can develop sensitivity to sunlight and as a result can develop an allergic reaction on their skin when exposed to the sun. Discolouration of the nails can also occur.

Respiratory side effects

Doxycycline use can cause certain side-effects within the lungs and the respiratory system. Some patients can experience a sore throat and congestion when their sinuses. A dry cough and headache can also accompany this.

Cardiovascular side-effects

The side-effects of doxycycline on the heart are uncommon. However, there have been reports that patients may develop high blood pressure after use. This of course is seen after prolonged use of doxycycline rather than following short-term treatments.

Liver side-effects

Yet again, this is an uncommon side-effect. Abnormalities in liver function tests have been noted following doxycycline use. This often reverses after the drug is withdrawn. Nonetheless, liver side-effects need to be looked out for in patients who are taking long-term doxycycline.

Genitourinary side-effects

In women, doxycycline can cause menstrual cramps and occasionally secondary infections such as vaginitis and fungal infections. Some patients also report severe itching which is often due to the fungal infection.

Allergic reactions

These are rare but must be treated aggressively if they occur. Allergic reactions can include a rash, breathing difficulties and sometimes swelling of the tongue.

Doxycycline is an excellent drug in the management of a variety of different clinical conditions. However, as is the case with any drug, it has a number of different side-effects. The side-effects of doxycycline and not very common but have to be kept an eye out for as treatment may need to be withdrawn if they do occur. Always ensure that you discuss any side-effects that you may be experiencing with doxycycline use with your health care practitioner.

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