What is doxycycline for?

Your health professional may prescribe doxycycline if you have an infection caused by bacteria, or you are at risk of the complications of the infection.

Doxycycline can be used to treat the following respiratory tract infections (RTIs):

  • infections caused by the bacteria Mycoplasma pneumonia
  • pneumonia
  • recurrence of chronic (long-term) bronchitis
  • sinusitis caused by bacteria if you are unable to use penicillin.

People who are generally unwell, or have an ongoing health condition such as the ones listed below, are at greater risk of complications. They are more likely to benefit from antibiotics than other people.

Doxycycline can also be used for treating other infections caused by bacteria, including:

If your symptoms don’t improve after a few days of taking doxycycline, or your symptoms get worse, see your doctor.

Find out more about who can take doxycycline, how to take it, and the side effects and interactions of doxycycline.

People at risk of the complications of RTIs include:

  • children younger than 5 years old, especially those born with heart or circulatory problems
  • people aged 65 years or older, especially those living in a nursing home
  • people with long-term health problems such as diabetes, heart, liver or kidney disease
  • pregnant women
  • people who are very obese (body mass index [BMI] of 35 or higher)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • people with breathing problems due to asthma, cystic fibrosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • people with conditions that affect breathing, including multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries and seizure disorders
  • people with weakened immune systems (e.g. due to HIV infection, cancer and some medicines)
  • homeless people
  • people who smoke.
  • Rossi S, ed. Australian Medicines Handbook [online]. Adelaide: AMH, July 2012.
  • Sweetman S, ed. Martindale: The complete drug reference [online]. London: Pharmaceutical Press (accessed 18 October 2011).
  • Antibiotic Expert Group. Therapeutic Guidelines: Doxycycline. Melbourne: Therapeutic Guidelines Limited, 2012 (accessed 27 March 2012).