Amoxicillin

Amoxicillin is a prescription antibiotic medication used to treat infections of the skin, respiratory tract, urinary tract, sinuses, and ears. It can also be used to prevent bacterial endocarditis in people who are at risk of developing a heart infection¹.

Amoxicillin belongs to a group of antibiotics called penicillins.

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What is amoxicillin used for?

Amoxicillin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic most commonly used to treat bacterial infections of the ear, nose, throat, skin, and urinary tract². It can also treat some types of pneumonia, other respiratory tract infections, and certain types of Helicobacter pylori infection.

How do you take amoxicillin?

Amoxicillin is typically taken orally, but it can also be given intravenously. Amoxicillin dosage² depends on your age and what you are taking it for.

Amoxicillin is usually taken two to three times a day, or every eight to 12 hours, either with or without food.

Adults, teenagers, and children who weigh more than 40kg have usually prescribed a dosage of 250–500mg to be taken every eight hours, or 500–875mg to be taken every 12 hours.

Amoxicillin dosage for children depends on their body weight, with doses ranging from 20–45mg per kilogram of body weight divided across doses taken every eight to 12 hours.

Take amoxicillin exactly as prescribed by your doctor; don’t take a higher dose than instructed and don’t take the medication for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.

Take this medicine at the same time each day.

Shake the oral suspension (liquid) well just before you measure a dose. To get the correct dose, measure the liquid with a marked measuring spoon, medicine cup, or oral syringe — not with a regular tablespoon. Ask your pharmacist for one if you do not have a dose-measuring device.

Seeing results

Most people see results within a few days of taking amoxicillin. The key is to take the medication as directed and finish the entire course of treatment, even if you feel better before it's finished.

Potential side effects of amoxicillin

There are potential side effects of taking amoxicillin, and you should be aware of them before you start taking the drug. Some common side effects include:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Skin rash

More severe side effects can occur in rare cases, such as an allergic reaction or Stevens-Johnson Syndrome³ (a potentially life-threatening skin condition). If you experience any severe or bothersome side effects while taking amoxicillin, be sure to speak to your doctor right away.

It's also important to keep in mind that amoxicillin may not be appropriate for everyone. If you are allergic to amoxicillin or penicillin, have kidney problems, or are pregnant or breastfeeding, speak to your doctor before taking this medication.

Amoxicillin is a safe and effective antibiotic when used as directed. However, it's essential to be aware of the potential side effects and report any problems you experience to your doctor. By doing so, you can help ensure that amoxicillin works safely and effectively.

Long-term use of amoxicillin

If you plan to use amoxicillin for an extended period, you should be aware of the potential risks and side effects. Although most people don't experience any problems, some may develop an allergy or other severe reactions.

Extended use can also lead to antibiotic resistance, so you should only use amoxicillin when necessary. If you experience any side effects, be sure to contact your doctor right away. With proper care and monitoring, long-term use of amoxicillin is usually safe and effective.

Missed doses

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the regular time. Do not take two doses of amoxicillin at the same time.

Amoxicillin overdose

It is possible to take an overdose on amoxicillin. If you or someone else has overdosed on this medication, seek emergency medical attention right away.

Symptoms of an amoxicillin overdose may include:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Stomach pain or cramps

  • Rash

  • Hives

  • Itching

  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing

  • Wheezing

  • Dizziness

What to discuss with your doctor before taking amoxicillin

You should always speak to your doctor before taking this medication to ensure that it’s the best option for you.

Discuss the following things with your doctor before taking amoxicillin:

  • Allergies

  • Infections

  • Other medical conditions

  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding

  • Medication schedule

  • Dosage and form (tablets, capsules, or liquid)

Stopping amoxicillin

Stopping amoxicillin too early may allow bacteria to continue growing, causing your infection to return or worsen. You should take amoxicillin for the entire length of your prescription.

Some infections, such as sinus and ear infections, may last longer. It's essential to finish all the medication, even if your symptoms disappear after a few days. Skipping doses or not completing the entire course of therapy may:

  • Decrease the effectiveness of amoxicillin

  • Increase the chance that bacteria will develop resistance and not be treatable by amoxicillin in the future

Amoxicillin and pregnancy

Amoxicillin is in the US Food and Drug Administration’s pregnancy category B⁴, meaning animal studies have not shown it to be harmful to an unborn baby. However, you should always tell your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy before taking this medication.

Amoxicillin and breastfeeding

You can take amoxicillin while breastfeeding⁵. Amoxicillin passes into breast milk in small amounts but this is unlikely to cause harm to the nursing baby. However, you should always tell your doctor if you breastfeed before taking this medication.

Interactions with other drugs

Amoxicillin can interact with other drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter medications. Some interactions can be dangerous, so tell your doctor about any medications you are taking before starting amoxicillin.

If you experience any adverse effects while taking amoxicillin, stop taking the drug and contact your doctor immediately.

Some common amoxicillin interactions include:

  • Probenecid (Benemid): this drug, used to treat gout, may increase the levels of amoxicillin in your blood and cause an increased risk of side effects.

  • Warfarin (Coumadin): this blood-thinning medication can increase the levels of amoxicillin in your blood and may cause increased bleeding.

  • Methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall): this drug is used to treat cancer and certain autoimmune conditions. It can increase the levels of amoxicillin in your blood and may cause an increased risk of side effects.

  • Tetracyclines: this is another class of antibiotics that can decrease the effectiveness of amoxicillin when taken at the same time.

Allergy information

If you are allergic to any penicillin drug, you should not take amoxicillin. If you have ever had an allergic reaction to amoxicillin, you should not take it again.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • Skin rash

  • Itching

  • Hives

  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat

If you have these symptoms, stop taking amoxicillin and seek medical help immediately.

Clinical trial history

Amoxicillin has been on the market since 1972⁶ and is available both as a brand-name drug (Amoxil, Moxatag, and Trimox) as a generic drug.

Clinical trials have shown that amoxicillin is effective against a variety of bacteria, including those that cause ear infections, pneumonia, and other respiratory tract infections. It's also used to treat some skin infections and sexually transmitted diseases.

Tips and advice for taking amoxicillin

Amoxicillin is generally safe and well-tolerated, but there are a few things to keep in mind when taking the medication:

  • Amoxicillin can interact with other medications, so it's important to tell your doctor about all the medications you're taking.

  • Take amoxicillin for the duration of your treatment; don’t stop taking the medication as soon as your symptoms ease.

  • Amoxicillin is thought to be safe for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding but checks with your doctor first.

If you have any questions about amoxicillin, be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

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Disclaimer

Here at HealthMatch, we’ve done our best to ensure that the information provided in this article is helpful, up to date, and, most importantly, accurate.

However, we can’t replace the one-to-one advice of a qualified medical practitioner or outline all of the possible risks associated with this particular drug and your circumstances.

It is therefore important for you to note that the information contained in this article does not constitute professional medical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or recommendation of treatment and is not intended to, nor should be used to, replace professional medical advice. This article may not always be up to date and is not exhaustive of all of the risks and considerations relevant to this particular drug. In no circumstances should this article be relied upon without independent consideration and confirmation by a qualified medical practitioner.

Your doctor will be able to explain all possible uses, dosages, precautions, interactions with other drugs, and other potential adverse effects, and you should always talk to them about any kind of medication you are taking, thinking about taking or wanting to stop taking.

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