) is a semi-synthetic antibiotic in the penicillin class of drugs, used to prevent susceptible bacteria from reproducing, growing or thriving.
This antibiotic sees a very wide range of use, particularly among children. The more common conditions it's used to treat include:
- Middle ear, nose or throat infections
- Bronchitis or pneumonia
- Urinary tract infections
- Skin infections
- Lyme disease
It may also be used, with or without other medications, as a preventative measure in some circumstances:
- Prior to dental work
- After surgery
- In individuals without spleens
- Prior or during exposure to anthrax
- In individuals at risk of recurring duodenal ulcers
Though amoxicillin is frequently prescribed for common childhood infections, it's important to note that many children -- some studies suggest as high as 50% -- are allergic to the medication. Allergic reactions are significantly less common in adults. Children should never be given amoxicillin without first being seen by a doctor, and should be closely supervised during the first few days of use. Taking Amoxicillin
Dosage and duration of treatment will depend on the condition being treated. Typically it's taken every 8 or 12 hours, for around 10 days. It may be taken with or without food, but staying hydrated is important, especially if diarrhea occurs.
Treatment with amoxicillin is similar to any other antibiotic; it's most effective if taken at regular intervals to keep consistent levels of the drug in the body. A missed dose should be taken as soon as remembered.
It's vital to complete treatment even if symptoms improve or disappear entirely. In fact, in most cases, treatment should
continue for a few days after all symptoms are gone -- notify your physician if symptoms persist. Failure to complete treatment can result in a more severe infection and resistent bacteria. Warnings Before Use
As mentioned above, childhood allergies to amoxicillin are relatively common. Some physicians will check for an allergic reaction prior to prescribing this medication. If there is a family history of allergic reactions to any drug in the penicillin family, allergy screening is strongly recommended.
If an allergic reaction does occur, in both children and adults, emergency medical attention should be sought without delay. If untreated, an allergic reaction may be fatal. Symptoms include:
- Altered mental state, confusion
- Fast-spreading rash with intense itching
- Fever, or sensation of fever (hot flashes)
- Severe nausea and vomiting
- Any other unusual behavior or symptoms
Severe allergic reactions usually occur within the first three days of treatment. Children should be monitored closely during this time.
A small percentage of patients develop a "non-allergic" rash after the first three days of treatment, sometimes even within a week after treatment has stopped. This rash usually begins on the trunk and resembles measles. While not dangerous in itself, it's a good idea to bring it to the attention of a physician as it may be an indicator for other conditions. Other Side Effects
Other, non-allergic side effects of amoxicillin are similar to those experienced with any antibiotic:
- Abdominal pain
- Easy bruising
- Decreased Urine volume or frequency
- Vaginal itching or discharge
These symptoms are usually relatively mild and not cause for concern unless they become severe.
Diarrhea is one of the most common side effects associated with antibiotic use. Consuming probiotic yogurt during treatment, and up to two weeks after completion, often helps reduce or eliminate diarrhea and stomach pains. It should be eaten within two hours of taking a dose for maximum effectiveness.