What is Doxycycline?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2019
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Doxycycline is a prescription drug used to fight bacterial growth. This antibiotic is used to treat a range of diseases and conditions caused by bacteria, including urinary tract infections; sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as chlamydia; and some types of acne. Doxycycline works by interfering with bacteria's production of protein, which slows bacterial growth. It can be taken, usually without food, in a variety of forms, including liquid, tablet, and gel form. This antibiotic can be effective, but may cause side effects in some people and may not be safe for pregnant women and patients with conditions such as liver disease.

When doxycycline is used to treat bacterial infections, it works by impairing a bacterium’s usual functioning. Typically, bacteria produce protein, as they need it to live, and this antibiotic interferes with bacteria's protein production. When doxycycline works as it should, it doesn’t actually destroy bacteria that is responsible for causing infection. By interfering with bacteria's protein production, it makes it harder for bacteria to continue growing and multiplying in a person’s body. With bacterial growth impaired, a patient’s immune system is usually able to mount a defense against the bacteria and defeat the infection.


This antibiotic comes in a number of different forms. It may be taken in capsule or liquid form as well as tablet or gel form. Sometimes it is even administered via an injection. In most cases, patients are advised to take it without food, as it is typically most effective this way. It may be taken with food, however, in order to prevent or calm an upset stomach.

Doxycycline has been associated with side effects, and some of them may be more serious than others. For example, some of the less serious side effects a person may experience while on this drug are upset stomach and diarrhea, sores in the mouth, or abnormal vaginal discharge that may be accompanied by itching. More serious side effects may include changes in urination, blistering, severe headaches, visual changes, appetite loss, and unusual bruising. Additionally, a person may develop an allergic reaction after taking this medication and may have such symptoms as hives, facial swelling, swelling of the throat, and difficulty breathing.

There are some people who are typically advised against using doxycycline. For example, pregnant women may be advised against using it, and breastfeeding mothers are usually advised to ask a doctor whether it is safe for use while nursing. Individuals who are allergic to medicines that are similar to doxycycline may be advised to avoid it as well. For example, people who have had allergic reactions to tetracycline in the past may not be good candidates for using this antibiotic. Additionally, doctors may exercise caution when prescribing doxycycline to people who have diseases of the liver or kidneys.


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