What Is Amoxicillin?
Amoxicillin is simply the generic name for a prescription drug that is used in the treatment of bacterial infections. It works by attacking bacteria’s protective membrane, thus stopping it from growing. Amoxicillin belongs to a specific antibiotic class known as penicillin-like antibiotics.
The United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) originally approved amoxicillin back in the 1980s. Many drug companies produce this medication today. Some of the brand names for amoxicillin include Moxtag, Amoxil and Larotid.
Physicians generally prescribe amoxicillin for the treatment of infections caused by bacteria that have proven sensitive to this drug. These affected bacteria include some strains of H. pylori, H. inflienzae, streptococcus, staphylococcus and E. coli.
Your healthcare provider prescribes amoxicillin to treat various infections that affect the lungs, stomach, urinary tract, nose, ears, throat and skin. This medication will not work properly against any infections that are caused by viruses like colds or the flu. Guidelines currently urge physicians only to prescribe amoxicillin only when bacterial infection is strongly suspected or certain.
What Do I Need to Know About the Drug Amoxicillin?
Once you begin a course of treatment with amoxicillin, you must finish the entire course. Even if you feel better, do not stop taking it, as the infection may still be present, but weakened. If you don’t treat your infection fully, it can come back even stronger. If you stop taking amoxicillin too soon, bacteria in your body may become resistant to the drug.
If amoxicillin is used against illnesses or viruses against which it is ineffective, it may no longer work when bacterial infections do occur. This is known as drug resistance. It occurs because bacteria can change and adapt. This will make the antibiotic less effective or very ineffective. Antibiotic resistant bugs are called “superbugs”. The growth of these “bugs” is a worldwide threat, and it is growing.
Amoxicillin can cause severe reactions including anaphylaxis, if you happen to be allergic to it. This reaction can be life threatening. The results may include difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat or hives.
Amoxicillin may interfere with some kinds of birth control pills. If you are a woman who uses birth control, speak to your physician before you take amoxicillin.
Elderly adults will sometimes need a lower dose of amoxicillin.
What Should I Discuss with My Physician Before I Take Amoxicillin?
Amoxicillin does cause side effects and interferes with some other medications. This can cause problems for you. Be sure to let your physician know if you are allergic to any medications, particularly antibiotics.
If you are a woman, be sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or if you may be pregnant. Also, let your physician know if you are using birth control, or breastfeeding.
Your physician should also know about any medications, supplements and vitamins you take. This includes over the counter and herbal medications.
It can be risky to use amoxicillin if you have some specific conditions. Let your physician know if you have:
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Phenylketonuria (PKU)
Side Effects of Amoxicillin
Common amoxicillin side effects include:
- Upset stomach
- Yeast infection
You may experience side effects from amoxicillin. If you experience any serious side effects, discontinue your use of amoxicillin and notify your physician immediately.
- Yellowing of eyes or skin
- Severe rash
- Unusual bruising or bleeding
- Excessive tiredness
- Chest pain
- Swelling of tongue, lips or face
- Blistering or peeling rash
- Difficulty in breathing
- Bloody, severe diarrhea
You may safely take amoxicillin if you are pregnant. However, it can pass between you and your baby if you are breastfeeding, so let your physician know. It may increase the baby’s risk for later allergic reactions.
Interactions with Amoxicillin
Some drugs affect the way amoxicillin works. Likewise, amoxicillin can affect the way other drugs that you are taking work. This can cause problems for you. It is very important to tell your physician about all the other drugs you take, including supplements, over the counter medications and herbs. Amoxicillin can cause some types of birth control to be less effective.
Drugs that are known to have interactions with amoxicillin include:
- Benemid, a drug used for the treatment of gout
- Allopurinol, sold under the brand names of Zyloprim and Lopurin, used in the treatment of kidney stones, high uric acid levels and gout
- Other antibiotic medications, including tetracycline, macrolides, sulfonamides and chloramphenicol
If you are diabetic and do sugar tests on your urine, taking amoxicillin may affect some of these tests. Speak to your physician about continuing urine testing while you are taking amoxicillin.
Do I Need to Avoid any Specific Drink, Food or Activity While I Take Amoxicillin?
Your activities and diet do not need to be changed while you are taking amoxicillin.
Dosages for Amoxicillin
The dosage of amoxicillin you need depends on the severity and type of your infection. Children’s doses are determined on the child’s weight and the infection type. Amoxicillin is available in tablets and capsules. Adults need to take capsules or tablets with a full glass of water. You can purchase children’s amoxicillin in liquid and chewable form. Amoxicillin can be taken with food or without it.
A common amoxicillin dose for adults with mild or moderate throat, ear or nose infections is 500 mg each 12 hours or 250 mg each 8 hours until your prescription is gone.
If you have an infection that is more severe, a common amoxicillin dose is 875 mg each 12 hours or 500 mg each 8 hours.
A common amoxicillin dose for children older than three months of age with an infection in the lower respiratory tract is 40 mg per kg of the child’s weight. This is divided in doses given every eight hours. Sometimes, a physician will want your child to take 45 mg for every kg of weight per day in 12-hour divided doses.
What If I Overdose by Taking too Much Amoxicillin?
An overdose is amoxicillin is possible. If you or someone you know takes too much amoxicillin, call your local area poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If that person suffers a collapse, has severe symptoms or stops breathing, call 9-1-1.
What If I Miss an Amoxicillin Dose or Take it Not as Described?
Only take amoxicillin as it was directed by your physician. Don’t stop taking it even if you feel better. If you skip a dose or stop too soon, your infection may be harder to treat.
If a dose is missed, take your next dose when you remember. If it is nearly time for the regularly scheduled next dose, then skip the dose you missed. Never double dose to make up for any dose you miss.