Amoxicillin : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions & More
Why is this medication prescribed?
Amoxicillin is used to treat certain infections caused by bacteria, such as pneumonia; bronchitis (infection of the airways leading to the lungs); and ear, nose, throat, urinary tract, and skin infections. It is also used in combination with other medications to kill H. pylori, a bacteria that causes ulcers. Amoxicillin is in a class of drugs called penicillin-like antibiotics. It works by stopping the growth of bacteria.
Antibiotics like amoxicillin do not work for colds, flu, and other viral infections. Taking antibiotics when they are not needed increases the risk of getting an infection later that resists antibiotic treatment.
How should this medicine be used?
Amoxicillin comes as a capsule, tablet, chewable tablet, and suspension (liquid) to take by mouth. It is usually taken every 12 hours (twice a day) or every 8 hours (three times a day) with or without food. The length of your treatment depends on the type of infection you have. Take amoxicillin at around the same times every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any parts you do not understand. Take amoxicillin exactly as directed. Do not take more or less, or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Shake the suspension well before each use to mix the medicine evenly. The suspension can be placed directly on the child’s tongue or added to formula, milk, fruit juice, water, ginger ale, or other cold liquid and taken immediately.
The chewable tablets should be crushed or chewed completely before swallowing.
Swallow the tablets and capsules whole with a full glass of water; do not chew or crush them.
You should start to feel better during the first few days of treatment with amoxicillin. If your symptoms don’t improve or get worse, call your doctor.
Take amoxicillin until you finish the prescription, even if you feel better. If you stop taking amoxicillin too soon or miss doses, your infection may not be fully treated and the bacteria may become resistant to antibiotics.
Other uses for this medicine
Amoxicillin is also sometimes used to treat Lyme disease, to prevent anthrax infection after exposure, and to treat anthrax skin infection. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this drug for your condition.
This medicine may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking amoxicillin,
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to amoxicillin; penicillin antibiotics; cephalosporin antibiotics such as cefaclor, cefadroxil, cefazolin (Ancef, Kefzol), cefepime (Maxipime), cefixime (Suprax), cefotaxime (Claforan), cefotetan, cefoxitin (Mefoxin), cefpodoxibuxime, cefprodime, Afticefazro) ceftriaxone, cefuroxime (Ceftin, Zinacef), and cephalexin (Keflex); any other medication; or any of the ingredients in amoxicillin capsules, tablets, or suspension. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: allopurinol (Lopurin, Zyloprim), other antibiotics, anticoagulants (‘blood thinners’) such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven), oral contraceptives, and probenecid (Probalan, in Col-Probenecid). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you closely for side effects.
- Tell your doctor if you have mononucleosis (a virus; also called ‘mono’) and if you have or have ever had kidney disease, allergies, asthma, hay fever, or hives.
- Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while taking amoxicillin, call your doctor.
- If you have phenylketonuria (PKU, an inherited condition where a special diet must be followed to prevent mental retardation), you should know that some amoxicillin chewable tablets are sweetened with aspartame which forms phenylalanine.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for the one you forgot.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Amoxicillin may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- changes in taste
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop taking amoxicillin and call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:
- skin blisters or peeling
- difficulty swallowing or breathing
- swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, and eyes
- severe diarrhea (watery or bloody stools) that may occur with or without fever and stomach cramps (may occur up to 2 months or more after your treatment)
Amoxicillin can cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medicine.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor can submit a report online to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medicine in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of the reach of children. Store capsules and tablets at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Liquid medicine should preferably be stored in the refrigerator, but can be stored at room temperature. Do not freeze. Throw away any unused liquid medicine after 14 days.
It is important to keep all medicines out of the sight and reach of children, since many containers (such as those containing weekly pills and those for eye drops, creams, patches and inhalers) are not resistant to children and small children can easily open them. To protect young children from poisoning, always close the safety caps and immediately place the medicine in a safe place, one that is upright and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
Unnecessary medications must be disposed of in special ways to ensure they cannot be consumed by pets, children, and others. However, you should not flush this medicine down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medications is through a drug take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage / recycling department to find out about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA Safe Drug Disposal website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim collapsed, had a seizure, is having trouble breathing, or cannot wake up, immediately call 911 for emergency services.
Symptoms of overdose may include the following:
- cloudy or bloody urine
- decreased urination
- swelling of any part of the body
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor may order certain lab tests to check your body’s response to amoxicillin.
If you are diabetic, use Clinistix or TesTape (not Clinitest) to test your urine for sugar while taking this drug.
Do not let anyone else take your medicine. Your prescription may not be refilled. If you still have symptoms of infection after you finish amoxicillin, call your doctor.
It is important that you keep a written list of all prescription and over-the-counter (over-the-counter) medications you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you every time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to take with you in case of emergencies.
- Amoxil® Pediatric Drops
- Larotid® Suspension
- Polymox® Suspension
- Trimox® Pediatric Drops
- Talicia (as a combination product containing Amoxicillin, Omeprazole, Rifabutin)
Disclaimer: We have made every effort to ensure that all information is factually accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a licensed health care professional’s choice of knowledge and expertise. You should always consult your doctor or other health care professional before taking any medication. The information given here is subject to change and it has not been used to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions or adverse effects. The lack of warning or other information for any drug does not indicate that the combination of medicine or medication is safe, effective or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.