Amoxicillin vs Tetracycline: Which One Do Use

Tetracycline and amoxicillin are both potent antibiotics used to treat a wide range of bacterial infections. The major similarity between these two medications is that both of them are not going to be helpful in addressing viral infections. In this article the Canadian Health&Care Mall experts team is taking a closer look at both antibiotics to understand the differences in their effect and figure out which one might be more helpful in your particular situation.

Amoxicillin banner

What You Need to Know about Tetracycline

Tetracycline is an antibiotic that is commonly prescribed to treat a number of bacterial infections, particularly acne. It works by gradually inhibiting bacterial growth, which eventually causes the infection to clear as the remaining bacteria die naturally. In addition, tetracycline can also be combined with certain other pharmaceuticals to treat stomach ulcers. If used improperly or excessively, Tetracycline might not be able to provide maximum effect, so be sure to follow the prescription recommendations and instructions carefully.

Tetracycline is to be taken on an empty stomach so that it can be absorbed quickly and efficiently. If your body responds to tetracycline with an upset stomach, you might need to take the medication with food. Ask your healthcare provider for more details. It is not recommended that you lie down immediately after taking tetracycline, so do not take it right before bedtime. It is always a good idea to spend at least 10 minutes sitting or standing after taking a tetracycline pill.

The absorption of tetracycline is hindered by foods and pharmaceuticals that contain aluminum, calcium, or magnesium. Thus, you should avoid taking tetracycline within three hours before or after consuming anything that contains these macroelements. This includes avoiding dairy products when you take tetracycline because otherwise they will bind with the medication, causing a significant decrease in its efficiency and possibly an upset stomach.

The most common side effects of tetracycline include dizziness, nausea, headaches, vomiting, appetite loss, diarrhea, sore throat, and mouth sores. These adverse reactions are generally safe and should go away as your body adjusts to the impact of tetracycline. Should they persist, contact your healthcare provider about these side effects because you might need to stop taking this medication or have the dosage lowered.

The more serious (and rare) adverse reaction to tetracycline include hearing loss or changes, blurry vision, vision loss, a change in color perception, signs of kidney problems, numbness in hands or feet, muscle pain, and severe stomach cramps. In very rare cases, tetracycline may cause a significant increase in blood pressure inside your skull, which in its turn may lead to permanent vision damage or loss. Consequently, it is very important that you seek professional medical help immediately if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, particularly if your vision or hearing are affected.

Some Quick Facts about Amoxicillin

Similarly to tetracycline, amoxicillin is also used to address a wide range of bacterial infections. However, it belongs to a different antibiotics class since amoxicillin is a penicillin-type antibiotic. It is capable of treating stomach ulcers caused by H. pylori bacteria (in conjunction with other medications) by preventing the bacteria from growing and becoming more numerous.

Amoxicillin is normally prescribed to be taken 2 or 3 times per day. Your medical provider will decide how big your initial dosage should be and then adjust it if needed. Do not take amoxicillin in larger doses than prescribed by your doctor and do not use it longer than prescribed. Also, be sure to complete the treatment course even if you notice improvement shortly after you start taking the medication. Otherwise there is a high probability that not all bacteria were dead by the time you stopped taking amoxicillin, and they will go on to reproduce again. What is worse, the new bacteria will be resistant to amoxicillin, so you will need a new medication to help you clear the infection completely.

The most common side effects of amoxicillin are diarrhea, vomiting, mild skin rashes and nausea. If they persist for a prolonged period of time, contact your doctor about lowering the dosage or changing to a different antibiotic. Some patients report developing oral or vaginal infections as a result of using amoxicillin. If that is the case for you, you will most likely need to stop using amoxicillin. The side effects mentioned above are generally safe and should not lead to any serious complications.

Some patient reports found by the Canadian Health&Care Mall expert team include complaints of severe diarrhea which starts during or after amoxicillin treatment course. This adverse reaction is patient-specific as it occurs due to a specific type of bacterial resistance to amoxicillin. Some people have this bacteria, and others don’t, so it is impossible to predict whether you are going to experience this side effect or not without doing some medical tests.

The most severe side effects of amoxicillin include severe stomach cramps, dark urine, yellow skin, persistent symptoms of a flu or cold (fever, sore throat, fatigue), and easy bruising of the skin. If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, do not hesitate to seek professional medical help. These adverse reactions are very rare and generally do not lead to grave consequences if taken care of properly.

Which One Do I Use: Amoxicillin or Tetracycline?

While both antibiotics have their strengths and weaknesses, there are some situations in which you will clearly benefit more from using one or the other medication.

Amoxicillin or Tetracycline

If safety is your main concern (particularly if the antibiotic is to be used in older patients or children), amoxicillin is usually a better choice. Its range of side effects is rather limited as compared to most other antibiotics, tetracycline being no exception. In addition, it is also available in three forms: regular pills, capsules, and oral solution. This might be particularly helpful when dealing with patients who have special needs (for instance, patients who are unable to swallow a hard-coated pill). Amoxicillin is available as a generic medication and can easily be found in the majority of physical and online pharmacies. Amoxicillin is often the “go-to” antibiotic for treating a number of bacterial infections.

On the other hand, there is quite a high chance of amoxicillin being ineffective against particular infections. This could be due to the fact that amoxicillin is not a very “aggressive” medication (thus the mild side effects), but also due to the ability of bacteria to develop resistance to antibiotics. If you have already been treated with amoxicillin earlier in your life, there is a certain likelihood that the bacteria in your body have adapted to it, and now the antibiotic is incapable of affecting them to a needed extent.

With tetracycline, the chances of it being effective are higher as compared to amoxicillin, but there are also some significant downsides to this antibiotic. First of all, it does not work well with calcium-containing products, so dairy products are best to be excluded from the patient’s diet when using tetracycline. This change might be inconvenient or even unacceptable for some people. What is more, the side effects of tetracycline are more grave than those or amoxicillin, and patients generally need longer to recover after a tetracycline treatment course.

For these reasons, tetracycline is not recommended to use in children (also because it could cause permanent teeth staining in younger patients). It is also known to interact with birth control pills, making them noticeably less effective. This is a factor that should be considered by women when taking tetracycline, particularly if the antibiotic is to be taken for a longer period of time. Another undesired effect of tetracycline is its ability to make the patient’s skin more sensitive to ultraviolet light, which makes the skin more prone to get sunburnt.

However, tetracycline is an effective medication for getting rid of acne (most other antibiotics usually do not affect this bacteria type). It also works well with a surprisingly wide range of infections and can be used repeatedly in most patients. Similarly to amoxicillin, tetracycline is also available as an off-brand pharmaceutical and can easily be obtained in your local drug store or ordered online. Its relatively low price means that it is affordable for most patients. Finally, tetracycline is one of the few antibiotics which are not affected by dialysis, so patients who suffer from kidney disorders and undergo dialysis are often prescribed tetracycline.

Bottom Line

It is up to your healthcare provider to decide which antibiotic is going to work best for, but you may help them make the decision by being informed about these antibiotics and the ways they might affect your health. The Canadian Health&Care Mall experts came to a conclusion that for most patients, amoxicillin is going to be a better option because it is safer than tetracycline, easily obtainable, and rather effective.

However, in following cases the use of tetracycline might be more reasonable:

  • the infection is already quite serious
  • the antibiotic will be used for acne treatment
  • the antibiotic is to be used by a patient on dialysis
  • the affordability of the medication is one of the primary concerns

Whatever medicine you get prescribed, remember that your doctor considered its benefits for your health more significant than possible adverse reactions. Should you experience any serious side effects while using either medication, do not hesitate to seek professional medical help so that you can avoid grave consequences for your health.

Antibiotics information from Canadian Health&Care Mall: