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Should I Take Doxycycline with Food?

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  • Written By: Gregory Hanson
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 31 July 2018
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It is best to avoid taking doxycycline with food, because food may limit the body’s ability to absorb this medication effectively. This medicine should almost always be taken with water, however. In some cases, when the drug is not well-tolerated on an empty stomach, a doctor may recommend taking doxycycline with food. Doxycycline is used to treat bacterial infections, and it is of paramount importance that a minimum level of the drug be present in the body during the entire period of treatment.

Doxycycline is an antibiotic, and its primary uses revolve around the treatment of bacterial infections. In some cases, this medicine may also be used to prevent bacterial infections, rather than to treat infections that have already become established in the body. This drug is often, for example, used to prevent malaria.

Patients should drink plenty of water with this medicine, unless specifically advised not to by a physician, but should refrain from taking doxycycline with food. Various foods, especially those high in certain minerals, such as calcium, can reduce the amount of doxycycline that is absorbed by the body. In patients who become nauseated when taking the medication on an empty stomach, a doctor may suggest specific foods that might limit nausea without reducing drug efficacy or may modify the dosage of doxycycline.

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In order for antibiotics to be effective, the level of the drug in the body must remain above a certain minimum threshold. If the level of the drug drops below this threshold, then bacteria may be able to infect a patient and existing infections may be able to survive. When bacteria are able to survive in the body in the presence of small doses of an antibiotic, those bacteria may develop resistance and become more difficult to treat. Eventually, the bacteria can become wholly resistant to a particular antibiotic.

As noted, taking doxycycline with food may limit the body’s ability to absorb its active ingredients. When this happens, the level of the drug in the body may fall below the threshold needed to maintain efficacy in treating disease, and bacterial resistance may develop. This is the main reason that it is inadvisable to take doxycycline soon after eating, unless acting on a doctor’s orders. It is similarly important to adhere closely to a dosing schedule when taking this drug, as a failure to space doses evenly may cause peaks and valleys in the level of the drug in the body, with effects similar to those caused by taking doxycycline with food.

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lluviaporos
Post 3

@MrsPramm - I've had doctors tell me to go ahead and have it with food, so I don't think it's too much of a problem. The one thing they said I couldn't have with it was grapefruit and I don't like grapefruit at all anyway, so that wasn't a problem.

This is definitely something that you need to get a doctor's opinion on, though, rather than just reading about it online.

MrsPramm
Post 2

@bythewell - I had to take doxy when I was visiting Africa and the problem for me was that, when you're traveling it's very difficult to find a regular time to take it. I tried to remember to take it whenever I woke up, but it did make me queasy, so I attempted to have it with a bit of food in my stomach as well.

I never caught malaria, thank goodness, but now I wonder if I contributed to bacterial resistance, because I guess I wasn't strictly taking it the way it's supposed to be taken.

bythewell
Post 1

Unfortunately doxycycline can be very hard on the stomach and if you are taking it regularly (for example, as a malaria preventative, or for acne, you might have to start taking it with food. The important thing is to try and make your habits regular, so that you don't end up messing too much with the dosage.

Since most people eat roughly the same thing for breakfast every morning, I would just have my pill with my breakfast, at the same time of day each day, if possible.

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