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Common Questions About Amoxicillin

Amoxicillin is an antibiotic medication that is commonly prescribed to treat bacterial infections. Here are some of the most common questions about its side effects, potential interactions and other concerns patients have when taking this drug.

Last Modified: September 5, 2023
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What Is the Most Common Amoxicillin Side Effect?

Amoxicillin has two primary negative side effects: Nausea and diarrhea. These side effects may occur as a result of changes the drug makes to the balance of your gut bacteria.

Temporarily modifying your diet can help you manage these unpleasant symptoms. In the past, medical experts recommended following the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) when taking amoxicillin. They now include the following food options in their recommendations as well:

  • Bland but protein-rich foods like plain baked chicken, scrambled eggs and yogurt
  • Boiled vegetables like squash, carrots and potatoes
  • Clear fluids such as bone broth, Pedialyte and apple juice
  • Soft fruits such as avocados, pumpkins and melons
  • Starchy foods that are low in fiber, such as noodles and saltine crackers

Avoid fried foods, citrus fruits, alcohol and sweets, all of which can make symptoms worse. If you continue having difficulty managing amoxicillin’s side effects after modifying your diet, you may benefit from taking probiotic supplements, which help your body restore the supply of good bacteria in your gut.

Other Amoxicillin Side Effects

Amoxicillin can also cause other unpleasant side effects. These side effects are usually temporary and go away when you stop taking the drug. Talk to your doctor if these side effects are severe or if they do not go away when you stop taking amoxicillin.

These include:

  • Changes in your ability to taste
  • Headaches
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting

In rare cases, amoxicillin can also cause problems with the liver or gallbladder. These side effects are serious.

Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Dark urine
  • Pale stool
  • Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (jaundice)

If you experience any signs or symptoms of gallbladder or liver issues within a few months of taking the antibiotic, contact your doctor immediately.

Does Amoxicillin Make You Tired?

Taking amoxicillin may make you feel tired because of the effects of your bacterial illness. Fatigue is not considered a common side effect of amoxicillin, but it is not unheard of.

Some amoxicillin side effects like gastritis (inflammation of the stomach) and diarrhea can also make it more difficult for your body to absorb nutrients. This can make you feel more tired than usual.

Can Amoxicillin Cause a Yeast Infection?

In some cases, taking amoxicillin causes a yeast infection. These are more common in women than men.

Taking antibiotics changes the balance of good and bad bacteria in your body. Good bacteria keep the harmful kinds in check, but when there are too few of them, bad bacteria become more plentiful. This can lead to a yeast infection.

Depending on your physiology, you may develop a yeast infection in your:

  • Corners of the mouth (angular cheilitis)
  • Esophagus
  • Mouth (thrush)
  • Nail beds
  • Penis or vagina
  • Skin folds and navel

Yeast infections are diagnosed following a review of your medical history, an examination and a discussion of your symptoms. They are treated using creams, suppositories, medicated mouthwashes and oral medications. 

Yeast infections usually begin to improve within three to seven days of the onset of treatment. Taking probiotics to better regulate your body’s bacterial balance can help prevent future yeast infections.

Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Amoxicillin?

Doctors and pharmacists used to advise people not to drink any alcohol while taking amoxicillin and other antibiotics. A lack of evidence to support this recommendation has led to a change in this stance.

People are now advised to avoid drinking while taking antibiotics if they are feeling unwell. Absent that, they are advised to moderate any alcohol consumption.

When amoxicillin interacts with alcohol it can cause problems like dehydration and nausea, which may make people feel worse. Otherwise, people may enjoy a drink or two in moderation. Drinking excessively is still not recommended and may cause problems during treatment.

Alcohol has been shown to affect some individuals’ recovery from an infection. Older adults who are recovering from an infection should be particularly cautious given alcohol consumption can impact their recovery time to a greater extent, potentially resulting in worse health outcomes. Seniors and people in poor health should avoid drinking until they have fully recovered from their illness.

Can You Smoke Cigarettes While Taking Amoxicillin?

Smoking while taking amoxicillin does not usually cause any immediate health problems. This does not mean that it is safe to do so, however.

Seniors who smoke experience significantly worse health outcomes when fighting an infection. Chronic smoking also causes additional difficulties when recovering from an infection. Evidence suggests that smokers are prescribed antibiotics more frequently than non-smokers. This may lead to increased antibiotic resistance.

In light of these risks, it is best not to smoke while taking amoxicillin. Smoking is also a leading cause of preventable death, making it even more important to avoid.

Is Amoxicillin Penicillin?

Amoxicillin is an antibiotic derived from penicillin. It is often used to treat conditions such as respiratory infections, ear infections and urinary tract infections.

Like all penicillin antibiotics, amoxicillin is only available with a prescription. It is often prescribed to children to manage common childhood infections.

Findings from one 2022 clinical research trial suggested that a short course of Amoxicillin (5 days) was just as effective as a longer course (10 days) for uncomplicated commonly acquired pneumonia in children under 10 years old.

Can I Take Amoxicillin if I’m Allergic to Penicillin?

No, you cannot safely take amoxicillin if you are allergic to penicillin. If a physician is unaware of your penicillin allergy and has prescribed amoxicillin for you, do not take it. Instead, call them and request an alternate treatment.

Signs of an allergic reaction to amoxicillin include:

  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Hives
  • Skin blisters
  • Skin rashes
  • Swelling of your face, lips, throat, tongue or eyes

Allergic reactions to penicillin may occur immediately or in the weeks following your first dose. Monitor yourself carefully for any signs of a potential reaction.

If you experience an allergic reaction to amoxicillin or any other prescribed medication, contact your doctor immediately. You will require emergency care to get your reaction under control.

Will Amoxicillin Work Quickly?

Amoxicillin begins working quickly, beginning to reach full effectiveness within an hour or two of taking it. Symptoms typically begin to wane within 72 hours if all doses are taken on the prescribed schedule.

Variables that may impact how long it takes for amoxicillin to work for an individual can include antibiotic resistance and medication adherence.  The consumption of certain foods may also play a role in absorption. Individual metabolism rates also play a key part in how quickly any medication can take to work.

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.