Augmentin is a brand name for a prescription antibiotic that is used to treat bacterial infections such as sinus infections, ear infections, pneumonia, bronchitis, urinary tract infections and some skin infections. It is sometimes prescribed to treat sexually transmitted diseases, though there may be some risks, so patients should talk to their doctor about using the drug for that purpose. It will not work on viral infections like colds or the flu.
Augmentin combines amoxicillin and clavulanic acid (in its most common form, potassium clavulanate). Amoxicillin is part of the penicillin-like antibiotic drug group, which stop bacterial growth. Clavulanic acid is part of the beta-lactamase inhibitor group, which prevents bacteria from destroying the amoxicillin. Other brand names are Amoclav and Clavamox.
Oral Augmentin is available as a tablet to swallow, a chewable tablet, an extended-release tablet and a liquid. Augmentin tablets come in 250mg and 500mg strength, but both strengths contain the same amount of potassium clavulanate, so taking two 250mg tablets is not the same as taking one 500mg tablet and should not be substituted for such.
Typically, patients take Augmentin with a meal and full glass of water every eight hours (three times a day) or every 12 hours (twice a day). The drug should be taken at the same time every day. It is important not to crush or chew the extended-release tablet. The pill should be swallowed whole or broken in half and both halves swallowed at once.
Do not crush or chew the Augmentin XR (extended-release) tablet. Swallow the pill whole, or break the pill in half and take both halves one at a time.
Patients should keep taking Augmentin even if they feel better or symptoms improve. Skipping or stopping doses before the doctor-recommended time can cause bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics.
If a dose is missed, patients should take it as soon as they remember unless it is almost time for the next scheduled dose. In that case, patients should not take a double-dose to make up for the missed one.
Side effects and precautions
Augmentin may cause side effects. The NIH lists the following side effects as less serious:
- upset stomach
- mild skin rash
The following are more serious and, if experienced, patients should consult a doctor immediately:
- severe skin rash
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- vaginal itching and discharge
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
Augmentin & birth control
Augmentin may cause birth control pills to become less effective. Patients taking oral contraceptives should plan to use an additional form of birth control while taking Augmentin.
Before taking Augmentin, patients should tell their doctor if they have or have had any of the following conditions, as they may worsen side effects or the drug’s effectiveness:
- kidney or liver disease
- hay fever
Patients should also tell their doctor about any other medicines or supplements they are taking, especially allopurinol (Lopurin, Zyloprim) and probenecid (Benemid).
It is possible to overdose on Augmentin. Signs of overdose include:
- stomach pain
Augmentin and alcohol
There are no known interactions between Augmentin and alcohol, although drinking alcohol while suffering from a bacterial infection may slow down the recovery process.