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Augmentin (Amoxicillin Clavulanate)

Augmentin is a prescription antibiotic containing the active ingredients amoxicillin and clavulanic acid. It is used to treat bacterial infections such as sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections, urinary tract infections and more. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) first launched the Augmentin brand in 1981 in the UK.

Last Modified: June 6, 2022
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What Is Augmentin?

Augmentin is an antibiotic that doctors prescribe for certain bacterial infections. Its active ingredients are amoxicillin and clavulanic acid.

Clavulanic acid, a beta-lactamase inhibitor, prevents bacteria from destroying amoxicillin, making Augmentin useful in fighting a range of antibiotic-resistant infections.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies Augmentin and amoxicillin penicillin drugs alongside other antibiotics. Both are first-treatment options for bacterial infections.

While Augmentin is a combination drug, amoxicillin alone is prescribed for infections such as strep throat, bronchitis, tonsillitis and ear infections.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) launched Augmentin in the UK in 1981. In 2003, GSK PLC settled a trade dispute with Novartis AG about a generic version of Augmentin.

Augmentin Uses

Augmentin has a variety of uses. The combination of amoxicillin and clavulanic acid treats a variety of infections caused by bacteria, including infections of the lungs, skin, ears, sinus and urinary tract.

A study published by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) found positive outcomes in treating mild outpatient cases of diverticulitis with amoxicillin-clavulanate. A review of COVID-19 treatment guidelines in 10 African countries recommended a variety of antibiotics, including amoxicillin-clavulanic acid, for the management of COVID-19.

Conditions that Augmentin may help treat include:
  • Infections of the middle ear (otitis media): Amoxicillin/clavulanic acid (Augmentin) fights the main pathogens associated with acute otitis media (AOM).
  • Tonsillitis: Amoxicillin-clavulanate shows promise in treating patients with acute recurrent tonsillitis.
  • Throat infections (pharyngitis): A study showed that amoxicillin-clavulanate was the most prescribed antibiotic for the treatment of pharyngitis. The median treatment duration was seven days.
  • Laryngitis: Amoxicillin has become an established macrolide antibiotic for acute laryngitis in adults.
  • Bronchitis: A clinical trial on the use of amoxicillin-clavulanate acid in the treatment of acute chronic bronchitis showed a cure rate of 93 percent in an average of 7.1 days.
  • Sinusitis: Amoxicillin clavulanate is a safe and effective treatment for acute bacterial maxillary sinusitis when given orally at both eight- and 12-hour intervals.
  • Pneumonia: Amoxicillin clavulanate taken twice daily was clinically effective in the treatment of adult patients with community-acquired pneumonia without an increase in adverse effects.
  • Skin infections: Studies show that amoxicillin-clavulanate has an efficacy of 84 percent in the management of skin and soft tissue infections in children. That is a higher efficacy than amoxicillin, erythromycin and co-trimoxazole.

Antibiotics, including amoxicillin-clavulanic, cannot treat flu strains, colds or other viral infections. Do not take antibiotics when you don’t need them. Doing so increases the risk that your body won’t respond to antibiotic treatment later.

Possible Side Effects of Augmentin

Augmentin can cause side effects ranging from mild to serious. For mild side effects such as nausea and a skin rash, the drugmaker recommends you notify your doctor if the effects persist.

Serious side effects include vomiting, severe stomach pain and diarrhea. In such cases, GSK recommends calling your doctor immediately. Persistent diarrhea can cause severe dehydration.

Call your doctor immediately if you experience the following symptoms:
  • Diarrhea
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Severe skin rash and itching
  • Hives
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Vaginal itching and discharge

This is not a complete list of all potential side effects. Other symptoms may occur.

If you notice other symptoms not listed above, contact your doctor immediately.

Augmentin Warnings

Before taking Augmentin, talk to your doctor about any pre-existing medical conditions. Avoid taking Augmentin if you have had:

  • Liver problems or jaundice while taking amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium
  • Kidney disease
  • Hay fever
  • Allergies or asthma
  • Mononucleosis
  • Hives

Also avoid it if you are allergic to Amoxil, Cefzil, Ceftin, Omnicef, Moxatag or any other cephalosporin or penicillin antibiotic.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, are trying to get pregnant or are breast-feeding. Amoxicillin clavulanate can pass into breast milk and harm a nursing baby.

Augmentin can also reduce the efficiency of birth control pills.

Ask your doctor about using a non-hormonal method of birth control such as a diaphragm, condom or spermicide while taking Augmentin. If you become pregnant while taking amoxicillin clavulanic acid, talk to your doctor immediately.

It is also important to tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to amoxicillin (Trimox, Amoxil, Wymox), penicillin, clavulanic acid, cephalosporins or any other medications or ingredients in amoxicillin clavulanic acid. Your pharmacist can assist you with a list of the ingredients in Augmentin.

Drug Interaction Risks

How different prescription drugs interact with one another may change how each of them works or may increase your risk for serious side effects.

Keep a list of all the products you are using including prescription/non-prescription drugs, vitamins, nutritional supplements and herbal products and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop or adjust the dosage of any medications you are on without the direct approval of your doctor.

Drugs that could have adverse interactions with Augmentin include:
  • Allopurinol (Aloprim, Zyloprim, Lopurin)
  • Probenecid (Probalan)
  • Warfarin (Jantoven, Coumadin)

Note that this list does not include all possible drug interactions.

Studies have shown that using ampicillin and allopurinol at the same time substantially increases the incidence of rashes as compared to patients receiving ampicillin alone. It is not clear whether this potentiation of ampicillin rashes comes from allopurinol or the hyperuricemia present in the patients under the study. Currently, no data exists about the effects of taking Augmentin and allopurinol concurrently.

Studies also show that probenecid decreases the renal tubular secretion of amoxicillin. Concurrent use of probenecid with Augmentin may result in increased and prolonged blood levels of amoxicillin. Concurrent administration of probenecid and Augmentin is therefore not recommended.

If one of your doctors prescribes Augmentin for you, make sure your other doctors know about it. Augmentin can alter blood-work results. Your doctors may adjust the dosage of other medications or monitor you closely for side effects.

Impact on Oral Contraceptive Effectiveness

Some broad-spectrum antibiotics, including Augmentin, may decrease the efficacy of oral contraceptives such as the birth control pill. Although researchers say they need more data for confirmation, they believe Augmentin can affect intestinal flora, leading to lower estrogen reabsorption and combined oral progesterone/estrogen contraceptives.

Until researchers know more about these potential interactions, ask your doctor about using a non-hormonal birth control such as diaphragm, condom, contraceptive sponge or cervical cap to prevent pregnancy.

How To Take Augmentin

Take Augmentin exactly as prescribed. Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all instruction sheets and medication guides. Ask your doctor or pharmacist all the questions you might have about taking Augmentin.

GSK makes Augmentin available in three forms: Liquid, extended-release tablets and chewable tablets. Do not chew or crush the extended-release tablet. Swallow the pill whole or break it into two halves and swallow each half at a time.

Talk to your doctor if you have trouble swallowing a whole pill or half of it. Shake the oral suspension (liquid form of the drug) before you measure your dose. Use a medicine dose measuring device or the dosing syringe provided rather than a kitchen spoon.

Both the 250 mg and 500 mg tablets of amoxicillin and clavulanic acid contain the same amount of clavulanic acid. Because of that, consumers should not substitute two 250 mg tablets for one 500 mg tablet.

Similarly, the 250 mg chewable Augmentin tablet and 250 mg regular tablet also contain different amounts of clavulanic acid and should not be taken interchangeably.

The drugmaker reminds people to take the full dosage of medication as prescribed by your doctor even after you feel better. Do not stop or adjust your dosage without consulting your doctor.

In case you accidentally miss a dose, take the missed dose as soon as you can. If that catch-up dose comes at a time near your next dose, skip the missed dose and then continue with your regular schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed dose.

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