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What Are the Pros and Cons of Doxycycline for a Sinus Infection?

By Amanda Barnhart
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Doxycycline is a tetracycline antibiotic that fights infection-causing bacteria in the body. It is used for many different types of infections, including sinus infections, or sinusitis in severe cases. While taking doxycycline for a sinus infection may help clear the infection faster, the medication can cause side effects and might interact with other drugs and supplements.

In most countries, doxycycline requires a prescription from a doctor. When using doxycycline for a sinus infection, patients typically take 100 to 200 mg per day for seven to 10 days to help fight the infection. It’s important for patients to take every dose exactly as recommended, even if they feel better before taking the full course of the medication. This helps prevent the infection from recurring. Both children over the age of eight and adults can take doxycycline, though a child’s dose is typically lower than an adult’s and is based on weight.

While most sinus infections will clear on their own, people who have severe or chronic infections may need an antibiotic to get well. Doxycycline is typically only given to sinusitis patients who have been having symptoms for several days with worsening or no improvement in symptoms. Some people worry that the overuse of antibiotics will lead to medication-resistant bacteria and infections. This is a large part of the reason doxycycline requires a prescription from a doctor who has examine the patient and determined that an antibiotic is needed in many countries.

Like all medications, doxycycline can cause side effects in some people. The medication is safe for most people, and most side effects are not severe. Common side effects include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Severe side effects are rare and include severe headaches, difficulty swallowing, severe headaches, and vision changes. Patients experiencing these side effects should stop taking doxycycline and contact their healthcare providers to determine whether they should continue taking the medication.

Other medications and some vitamins and minerals may interact with antibiotics. Patients taking doxycycline for a sinus infection should tell their doctors about all supplements and medications they currently take to prevent a potentially dangerous interaction. Common drugs that may interact with doxycycline include blood thinners, penicillin or penicillin-based antibiotics, cholesterol medications, isotretinoin, and tretinoin.

Supplements that contain calcium or iron may make doxycycline less effective. Any antacids, vitamins, or supplements that contain calcium or iron should be taken several hours before taking doxycycline to prevent them from interfering with the medication. Laxatives that contain magnesium may also lower the effectiveness of doxycycline.

Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should not take doxycycline for a sinus infection, as it can cause harm to the fetus or baby. Doxycycline may make oral birth control pills less effective. Women who take oral contraceptives should abstain from sexual intercourse or use another method of birth control while taking doxycycline.

How Long Before Doxycycline Begins to Work on a Sinus Infection?

Doxycycline works by killing bacteria or preventing their growth. The sinus cavities are more challenging to reach. Even with a potent aid like Doxycycline, it can take up to three days before the patient starts to feel any relief.

Advantages of Using Doxycycline

The main advantages of using Doxycycline for a sinus infection are:

Broad-Spectrum Care of Infections 

Doxycycline works for a variety of bacterial infections, including those affecting the sinuses, skin, urinary tract, and lungs.

Potent Enough To Treat Deadly Infections

Doxycycline is a very effective antibiotic. It works effortlessly in curing difficult-to-treat infections such as MRSA.

Convenient Forms For Consumption 

Doxycycline comes in several forms based on what the practitioner recommends and the patient's preference. For instance, it comes in a capsule, liquid, or delayed-release tablet.

Disadvantages of Taking Doxycycline

Here are some of the most prominent disadvantages of Doxycycline use.

Constant Price Hikes

Even though Doxycycline is a generic drug, studies show it has been subject to price hikes. These hikes occur as a result of shortages in the active ingredient as well as other cost-driving forces in the market.

Too Many Risks to Unborn Children

Studies on pregnant animals have shown that Doxycycline can cause harm to a developing fetus. In fact, it causes transient suppression in bone growth in fetuses. Doxycycline is a category D drug, meaning there is positive evidence of adverse human fetal risk based on reaction data from investigational or marketing experience. 

At the same time, pregnant mothers may still opt to use it to achieve even a little bit of relief from recurrent sinus infections. For this reason, physicians don't advise it for use in pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding.

Dairy Interactions Impact Doxycycline Effectiveness

Dairy products like yogurt, milk, and cheese can negatively affect doxycycline absorption. Antibiotics bind to the calcium, which creates a substance that cannot be absorbed. Therefore, taking Doxycycline 2 hours before or 4 hours after taking calcium-containing products.

Doxycycline Use And Sun Sensitivity

Doxycycline can cause photosensitivity (a heightened sensitivity to sunlight). Patients may experience sunburn more quickly, so using sunscreen and limiting exposure to direct sunlight while taking this medication is essential.

Doxycycline Can Onset Liver Damage

Doxycycline can cause liver damage. Patients with liver disease shouldn't use it. Liver enzymes need regular monitoring. Patients should stop taking Doxycycline and contact their healthcare provider immediately if they develop yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark urine, or abnormal liver function tests.

Doxycycline vs. Amoxicillin: Which is Better?

When it comes to antibiotics, there are a variety of options to choose from. However, two of the most common options are Doxycycline and Amoxicillin. So, which is better for a sinus infection?

Doxycycline is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that is effective against various bacteria, including those that cause sinus infections. Amoxicillin is also an effective antibiotic, but it is narrower in scope and may not be as effective against certain types of bacteria.

Another difference between these two antibiotics is Doxycycline can cause sun sensitivity while Amoxicillin does not. Additionally, Doxycycline may not be suitable for pregnant women or those who are breastfeeding, whereas Amoxicillin is considered safe for use in these populations.

What Happens if My Doctor Tells Me to Stop Taking Doxycycline?

If you have symptoms such as loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, difficulty swallowing, and even vision changes and your doctor tells you to stop taking your Doxycycline, follow their specific instructions. 

These are all indicative of an allergic reaction. From here, your practitioner will work with you to find other treatment options that may work better for you.

What if I Get Recurring Sinus Infections and Doxycycline Works Best?

If you find that you are getting recurring sinus infections and Doxycycline works best for you, your doctor may prescribe a more extended stint of treatment or a higher dose to help prevent the infection from returning. 

They may also advise other lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and the use of a humidifier to help reduce the risk of recurrent sinus infections.

Keep in mind that Doxycycline can help manage and cure the infection. It doesn't treat the factors that cause the condition.

FAQ on Doxycycline for a Sinus Infection

Is doxycycline effective for treating sinus infections?

Yes, doxycycline can be effective for treating sinus infections, particularly those caused by bacteria. It is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that can help eliminate the bacteria responsible for the infection. However, it's important to note that not all sinus infections are bacterial; some may be viral, in which case antibiotics like doxycycline would not be effective. Always consult with a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

What are the common side effects of taking doxycycline for a sinus infection?

Common side effects of doxycycline include nausea, diarrhea, sun sensitivity, and an increased risk of yeast infections. Some individuals may also experience vomiting, stomach pain, or difficulty swallowing. It's crucial to take doxycycline with a full glass of water to minimize the risk of esophageal irritation. If side effects are severe or persistent, it's important to contact a healthcare professional.

How long does it typically take for doxycycline to work on a sinus infection?

The duration for doxycycline to show improvement in sinus infection symptoms can vary, but patients often begin to feel better within a few days of starting treatment. A typical course of doxycycline for a sinus infection may last from 7 to 14 days, depending on the severity of the infection and the healthcare provider's recommendation. It's essential to complete the full course of antibiotics even if symptoms improve to ensure the infection is fully eradicated.

Can doxycycline be used for all types of sinus infections?

Doxycycline is generally used for bacterial sinus infections and may not be suitable for all types. For example, it is not effective against viral sinus infections, which are common and usually resolve on their own. Additionally, some bacterial strains may be resistant to doxycycline. A healthcare provider may perform a culture test to determine the most effective antibiotic for a particular sinus infection.

Are there any groups of people who should avoid taking doxycycline for a sinus infection?

Yes, certain groups should avoid taking doxycycline. It is not recommended for children under the age of 8 or for pregnant or breastfeeding women due to the potential for adverse effects on bone and teeth development in children and risks to the fetus or infant. People with a history of liver disease or who are taking certain medications that could interact with doxycycline should also exercise caution. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new medication.

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Discussion Comments

By anon1000649 — On Nov 08, 2018

I'm on day 2 and have not had any side effects yet. I am allergic to amoxicillin based antibiotics. I have eaten with the medication. I was on a z-pak first and it did not work. Hoping I'm much better tomorrow.

By anon993136 — On Oct 25, 2015

I have a sinus infection and lung congestion. Can I take this antibiotic for it instead of going to my doctor?

By anon990238 — On Apr 12, 2015

I am on this drug for a sinus infection. I was worried about side effects after reading all the reviews and comments, but I've had a rather easy time with this antibiotic. I'm on day three of a 10 day treatment and the only issue I've had to this point is very very mild diarrhea the first few doses towards the end of the 12 hour cycle.

I had a very mild stomach discomfort the first night, but that subsided in about a half hour. Keep in mind these ailments were nothing compared to how sick I was prior to getting the antibiotic in me and that mild stomach ache had nothing on the horrific one I had prior to taking the drug.

Now I may discover other side effects before the 10 days is over, but so far this antibiotic seems to be agreeing with my body fairly well. I've found that sandwiching the pill between a meal really helped to advert any major stomach issues. I eat half my meal, take the pill, then finish my meal and am fine.

I wanted to post this because most people only post the bad comments, but everyone has a different body chemistry. Bottom line is, you won't know how your body will react until you try it, but if you do have the severe side effects then follow the advice above and call your doctor immediately.

Don't be scared or afraid and just pay attention to your body. If it's not a good fit then you probably need a different medication. Hope this reassures anyone like me looking on info for this drug prior to taking it. Good luck and I hope you get well soon.

By anon957672 — On Jun 21, 2014

I am on day two of a lingering low grade fever after a six week cold. My stomach hurts like somebody punched me in my gut. Not pleasant at all.

By anon939369 — On Mar 13, 2014

This antibiotic, Doxycycline, appears to be making me feel worse not better. Perhaps I'm allergic to it. I'm taking it to treat sinusitis. Can anyone recommend another antibiotic? I have already tried Amoxycillin with no luck. Help.

By ddljohn — On Oct 13, 2013
@ysmina-- That's true, but doctors usually prescribe doxycycline for sinus infections when the patient is not responding to other antibiotics. If a sinus infection is not going away and other medications are not working, I think it's better to take doxycycline.
By ysmina — On Oct 12, 2013

@alisha-- Unfortunately, those are common symptoms of doxycycline. I have taken it before for sinus infections and I had vomiting because of it.

Doxycycline is used for a wide range of infections including acne, chlamydia, chest infections and urinary tract infections. I think it's better for some infections than others. It's not the best antibiotic for sinus infections. There are other antibiotics out there with less side effects.

By discographer — On Oct 12, 2013

My doctor gave me doxycycline for a sinus infection. I have been treated with antibiotics for sinus infections in the past, but I had never taken doxycycline before.

The antibiotic worked and cleared up the infection but the side effects were horrible. I had upset stomach and diarrhea for four days! I would have quit the medication but I was scared of making the infection worse. I don't want to take this antibiotic ever again though.

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