Doxycycline Long Term Side Effects: 8 Possible Consequences

Doxycycline mainly targets bacterial infections in the body and restricts bacterial growth by affecting the formation of specific proteins. It is usually prescribed to treat acne and several other kinds of bacterial infections. 

So what’s the fuss about doxycycline long term side effects?

Even though long term side effects of Doxycycline are rare, they cannot be entirely ruled out. Being an anti-inflammatory agent, the drug sometimes causes painful abdominal disorders. In the worst possible scenario, the patient can even suffer from heart-related problems such as arrhythmias and tachycardia. 

So, how can the doxycycline’s long term side effects be treated? In fact, are they even treatable? To know the answer, read on!

What Is Doxycycline?

Doxycycline is an antibiotic drug belonging to the class of tetracyclines that occurs both as a brand name and a generic drug. Usually, generic drugs are comparatively cheaper. The medicine is available as oral capsules, suspension, syrup, and also as a solution for injection and acts by inhibiting protein synthesis.   

doxycycline-long-term-side-effects

This anti-inflammatory agent is sold under many famous brand names which include Doryx MPC, Monodox, Oracea, and Adoxa, and is also used as a generic drug. Doxycycline is an FDA-approved drug that is known to be effective against a number of bacterial infections, diseases, and particularly acne. 

How does Doxycycline work? Well, this broad-spectrum antibiotic targets bacterial growth and prevents the infection from spreading in the body. Bacterias have a certain protein that initiates their growth, doxycycline blocks the formation of those proteins by attaching themselves to a group of proteins. Due to this reason, proteins can’t be made and bacterial growth remains restricted. 

Uses of Doxycycline 

When it comes to the treatment of acne, doxycycline is quite effective. Usually, acne goes away on its own without seeking medical help by using herbal methods. However, when the acne is severely inflamed, it becomes red and swollen. This is usually caused due to the production of bacteria inside the pores, and this kind of inflammation can be easily treated by consuming doxycycline. 

Other than acne, there is a cutaneous inflammation called rosacea in which blood vessels become prominent and visible on your face. In this condition, doctors usually suggest doxycycline which is an anti-inflammatory agent. 

Studies and experiments have revealed that Doxycycline also works well against many sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, and many more. Research demonstrates a 73% reduction in some STIs after its consumption as pre-exposure prophylaxis. 

Several other infections which can be treated by doxycycline include respiratory, skin, eyes, lymphatics, genital, and many more. Sometimes doctors also prescribe doxycycline in combination with other medicines to enhance the strength and speed of recovery. 

Moreover, people with malaria are also prescribed doxycycline. The malaria parasite, when it enters the human body, has to go through several stages. Doxycycline is a well-known schizonticidal agent which means that it kills the parasite in the red blood cells thereby preventing the completion of the cycle. Once the cycle of plasmodium is inhibited no more division takes place. 

It also works well against the infections spread by parasites, infected animals, and contaminated food and water. All in all, doxycycline exhibits anti-inflammatory properties which make it an excellent dosage against several bacterial infections. 

Side Effects of Doxycycline

Doxycycline ruined my life!” Are you the one saying this? Well, with countless benefits making it an important anti-inflammatory drug, the doxycycline long term side effects stand inevitable too! In an unfortunate condition, the consumer may also face an opposing allergic reaction which can be mild or severe: 

Mild Reaction: The symptom of a mild allergic reaction includes skin rashes which might become irritating. You may opt for an anti-allergic or consult your healthcare advisor.  

Severe Reaction: The symptoms of a severe allergic reaction to doxycycline include pain in the chest, breathing problems that might be associated with wheezing sounds, and rashes which cover the whole body. So, if you experience such symptoms together, then without any further delay, contact your doctor because it can be fatal. 

Most commonly consumers don’t experience these aftereffects, but in rare cases, several side effects accompany the treatment such as diarrhea and nausea. They may be common, short-term, long-term, rare, and some of the side effects can be severe. 

Doxycycline Short Term/Common Side Effects

  • Sensitive skin
  • Appearance of rashes
  • Feeling nauseous 
  • Wanting to throw up
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Yellowing of teeth in children
rashes

Doxycycline Long Term Side Effects

People with mild or severe acne consider taking doxycycline for long term treatment extremely effective. However, in rare conditions, the side effects after long-term intake of doxycycline can become severe. Some side effects are:

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

One of the long term side effects of doxycycline for acne is inflammatory bowel disease whose symptoms start appearing after a month of drug usage, and include abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, and fatigue. In the worst possible scenario, the distal GIT might close leading to abnormal blood circulation. 

Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea:

One of the doxycycline long term side effects is antibiotic-associated diarrhea. This kind of condition is often accompanied by severe abdominal cramps, bloody stools, dehydration, fever, or watery diarrhea. Sometimes immediate discontinuation of doxycycline can cause diarrhea for up to 2 months or more. In case of diarrhea, the excess fluid loss leads to an immediate loss of minerals and water so increasing water intake becomes mandatory to prevent dehydration. 

diarrhea
Benign Intracranial Hypertension:

Those who consume tetracycline antibiotics for more than three months often experience an increase in the pressure inside the head. This intracranial hypertension is one of the rare doxycycline long term side effects. However, discontinuation of the drug might improve the condition by normalizing the cerebrospinal fluid. Any disturbance in your vision or headache could be a sign of intracranial hypertension. 

Esophageal Ulcers:

Users of doxycycline frequently develop esophageal and gastric ulcers due to their acidic nature. Moreover, drug-induced esophagitis is also observed. Direct exposure to the region can also cause deep ulcers. However, esophageal ulcers would gradually heal after the withdrawal of doxycycline. 

Anemia:

Anemia is a disorder that affects the shape, functioning, and development of RBCs depending upon the type. One of the long term effects of doxycycline is aplastic anemia in which the bone marrow cells are severely affected and RBC production is reduced. However, the appearance of aplastic anemia as a side effect is rare but must be treated on time, or else would lead to fatal consequences. 

anemia
Skin Reactions: 

Doxycycline users sometimes experience skin reactions because the drug increases skin sensitivity. In this condition, even the slightest exposure to the sun can cause rashes and sometimes blisters, redness, sunburns, and itching on the exposed cutaneous area. Make sure to avoid going out during golden hours or use an umbrella along with sunglasses to minimize the risk of reactions. 

Heart Problems 

Heart-related disorders of doxycycline are rare. However, some consumers may occasionally complain of irregular heart rhythms and inflammation, and other minor heart problems. 

Acute Pancreatitis

A small number of consumers have also shown rare complications of pancreatitis with the use of doxycycline. The most common symptoms include pain in the upper abdominal region, nausea, chills, jaundice, and vomiting. 

The process of digestion is catalyzed by pancreatic secretions. Hence, its inflammation can make the patient suffer a lot. Discontinuation of the doxycycline will improve acute pancreatitis. Moreover, the patient shouldn’t be re-administered with the same drug. 

pancreatitis

When Should You Avoid Doxycycline? 

There are certain conditions in which consumption of doxycycline can pose severe health risks to your body. To avoid some aftereffects, it becomes mandatory to either avoid or stop doxycycline dosage. Some of such conditions include, 

Pregnancy

Pregnancy and acne? Is this your problem? Well, even if your acne becomes severe during any trimester, never ever go for consuming Doxycycline blindly! Consumption can adversely affect the development of the baby. Moreover, Doxycycline interferes with the working of BCPs which is why its use is discouraged if you are on birth control.  

Stomach Upset

The most common after-effect of doxycycline intake is mild to severe diarrhea which can last up to two months once you discontinue the drug. Drinking plenty of fluids to balance the ionic and water loss can help in this case. 

Age 

Make sure you don’t provide this medication to your kids because children less than 8 years old are in their growth phase. Moreover, it can cause permanent yellowing or tooth discoloration of the teeth in kids.  

Allergy 

Avoid consumption of the antibiotic “doxycycline” if you’re allergic to the family “tetracyclines.”

However, discontinuing your ongoing doxycycline treatment can cause incomplete elimination of the bacteria and can also make you prone to infections. So, don’t take any decision on your own and make sure to seek professional help. 

FAQs

Does doxycycline cause weight gain? 

The killing of some physiologically significant bacteria in the body can lead to weight gain which is temporary in most cases. Doxycycline when absorbed in the body starts to interfere with the functioning of gut bacteria which somehow control the weight of the body. Hence, abnormal weight gain is fine till the time you’re using the antibiotic. As soon as you stop its consumption, the temporary weight gain will gradually go away. 

How long does doxycycline take to work in bacterial infection?

Doxycycline is an antibiotic drug that works against infections by stopping the growth of bacteria. Soon after consuming the tablet, it is completely absorbed and it takes approximately 2 days for the symptoms of infection to lessen. Doxycycline is efficient and is known to work in a quite different manner than the other antibiotics. It can help in treating urinary, respiratory, intestinal, eyes, and skin infections.

What happens if you stop taking doxycycline?

Doxycycline is a drug used for the short-term treatment of certain bacterial infections and acne. However, several patients might require it for a longer duration which often leads to side effects such as IBD. Discontinuation of the drug sometimes improves the side effects. However, sudden discontinuation won’t eliminate the infection completely. Make sure to consume doxycycline as it is prescribed or else you’ll have to face severe consequences. 

Takeaway

All in all, doxycycline long term side effects must be considered by the doctor while prescribing the medication. Patients who are allergic to the family tetracyclines are not recommended to use doxycyclines. If you experience any of the aforementioned side effects, seek immediate medical help.

Mehrosh Ahmer

Mehrosh Ahmer

My name is Mehrosh Ahmer and I’m currently a student of MBBS at Jinnah Sindh Medical University. My passion for studying the wonder that is the human body and the desire to give back to my society has led me to pursue a career in medicine. As I research, I learn more about my field, and it improves my understanding. This is why I enjoy writing the articles so that more people might get to read about subjects that they otherwise might never encounter.

Wholesomealive.com -a blog about Healthy Living
Logo