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Doxycycline hydrochloride, often called simply doxycycline, is an antibiotic used to treat a number of different bacterial infections. It is a type of tetracycline that works by keeping bacteria from reproducing and synthesizing protein. This medication is quite common and is usually well tolerated by patients.
After the invention of tetracycline in 1953, scientists developed a similar antibiotic called doxycycline hydrochloride. While both of these antibiotics prevent the growth of bacterial infections in the same way, doxycycline hydrochloride has longer lasting effects. The medication, which is taken orally as a pill or a liquid, has a long enough half-life that it can usually be taken only once a day.
Antibiotics stop bacterial infection by preventing bacteria from synthesizing protein. This protein is necessary in the ribonucleic acid (RNA) replication process. When bacteria are unable to reproduce, a bacterial infection cannot continue to spread and the body’s immune system is able to kill off the remaining bacteria.
Doxycycline hydrochloride is considered to be a broad-spectrum antibiotic, which means that it works against many different types of bacteria. Many antibiotics are targeted towards specific types of bacteria, which make them highly effective against these specific bacteria, although they may be ineffective against many other types of bacteria. Doctors may prescribe a broad spectrum antibiotic when they have not identified the offending bacteria or when there is an infection from multiple strains of bacteria. Though effective against many bacteria, this antibiotic does not work well against bacteria that cause urinary tract infections because most of the medication is absorbed in the body and does not pass through the urinary tract.
In addition to treating many common bacterial infections, doxycycline hydrochloride may be used in the treatment or prevention of some strains of malaria. A disease caused by a single-celled parasite, malaria is a common disease in many parts of the world. Doxycycline hydrochloride helps treat and prevent infection by interfering with the reproductive cycle of the organism.
Many patients who take doxycycline may experience sensitivity to sun. Though this may be a minor annoyance for people who are only taking the medication for a week, patients who are on the medicine for longer periods of time may want to consider whether staying out of the sun is practical before deciding on this medication. There are many other antibiotic and antimalarial alternatives available.