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Doxycycline: Overdose & Withdrawal Symptoms

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  • 0:04 Too Much Medication
  • 0:27 Uses and Overdose
  • 1:40 Overdose Treatment
  • 3:13 Withdrawal Symptoms
  • 4:09 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Alexandra Unfried

Alexandra earned her master's degree in nursing education and is currently a hospital supervisor/administrator.

Doxycycline is an antibiotic used to treat many different types of bacterial infections. This lesson will discuss overdose and withdrawal symptoms of doxycycline.

Too Much Medication

Roger is taking the pill form of doxycycline for a urinary tract infection. He started to take the medication three days ago and realized that he misread the directions. Instead of taking one pill every twenty-four hours, he has been taking two pills twice a day. He is having increased nausea and diarrhea so he calls his doctor.

Uses and Overdose

Doxycycline is a tetracycline antibiotic that is used to treat bacterial infections, including eye infections, acne, urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases, intestinal infections, and periodontal disease (gum disease). It can also be used to prevent malaria, treat anthrax, and treat infections caused by ticks, mice, and lice.

The effects from an overdose of doxycycline depend on how much was taken and whether other medications or drugs were being taken at the same time. Most symptoms of a doxycycline overdose include an increased risk of side effects.

Common side effects that are seen when taking doxycycline include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Photosensitivity (skin reaction to the sun)
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mild rash

Roger is not taking any other medications at this time, but has been taking a much higher dosage of doxycycline than originally prescribed by his doctor. He has not been out in the sun over the last several days, so he has not experienced any photosensitivity. Unfortunately, he is having a lot of nausea and diarrhea.

Overdose Treatment

Treating an overdose of doxycycline is usually dependent on how much medication was taken and what side effects or abnormal symptoms are reported. The common treatment for overdose of doxycycline is considered supportive, meaning that the symptoms associated with the overdose are treated.

If there is any loss of consciousness or if doxycycline was taken with other medications, the treatment may involve the use of charcoal. This is a substance that binds to the excess medication, allowing for excretion from the body. A gastric lavage, or stomach pump, may also be necessary. A liquid is pumped through a tube that is entered through the nose or mouth, down the esophagus, and into the stomach. The liquid is then suctioned or siphoned out of the body along with any stomach contents.

Dialysis is often used to treat overdoses because it is a way of purifying the blood. However, dialysis will not remove doxycycline from the bloodstream. Other supportive treatments for an overdose of doxycycline include:

  • Intravenous fluids, which decreases the amount of medication in the bloodstream and helps the body replenish fluid balance
  • Vital sign monitoring
  • Other treatments based on symptoms

Since Roger is having increased nausea and diarrhea, the doctor prescribes a medication to help reduce the nausea. He is given intravenous fluids to decrease the risk of dehydration from diarrhea and is also given a probiotic. A probiotic will help Roger's gastrointestinal tract return to normal.

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