We all get sick from time to time. Some of us deal with the sickness better than others, though. Still, there is a trait that’s almost universal to humankind – we tend to postpone a visit to the doctor and try to deal with the situation by ourselves.
In many cases, that is just fine. Colds come and go, after all. However, when they don’t go, some of us will resort to self-medication. This is rarely a good idea. If you think that you need drugs, see your doctor and they’ll tell you what to get. Still, you’re probably wondering about some of the most common prescriptions. Everybody’s been prescribed either Amoxicillin or Augmentin at some point. What are those and what do they do, anyway? If you are curious, here’s the basic difference between Amoxicillin and Augmentin.
What You Use Them for
Both Amoxicillin and Augmentin are antibiotics, and they belong to the group of penicillins. Augmentin is a combination drug – it contains Amoxicillin and clavulanate or clavulanic acid. Clavulanic acid is a substance we use to stop bacterial resistance to antibiotics, so Augmentin is commonly prescribed if the presence of more stubborn bacteria is found or suspected.
We use Amoxicillin and Augmentin to treat bacterial infections that are too strong for the immune system. Both are effective against a wide range of bacteria, and they work for several conditions.
Amoxicillin is commonly prescribed for infections of the middle ear, all parts of the respiratory system, tonsils, throat, and larynx. It is also effective against bacterial infections of the urinary tract, skin, and even against some STDs, such as gonorrhea.
Doctors prescribe Augmentin for the same infections for which they prescribe Amoxicillin, but they also use it to treat more resistant conditions. You’ll probably get a prescription for Augmentin if you have a sinus infection, laryngitis, pharyngitis, serious and stubborn skin or ear infection, or any chronic or recurring infections.
No matter what kind of chemicals you put into your body, there will be some consequences, and Amoxicillin and Augmentin are no exceptions. Because both medicines contain Amoxicillin, they share some side effects.
Common side effects for both drugs include heartburn, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea that goes on for longer than a day, abdominal pain, and bruising or rashes. Also, they can cause trouble in your intestines.
Your body is home to many kinds of microorganisms, and many of them are good for your health. Many species of bacteria help your system work as it’s supposed to. They usually live in your gut and help with food digestion, among other things.
Antibiotics, including Amoxicillin and Augmentin, don’t discriminate – they’ll kill the helpful bacteria as well as the harmful. This causes an imbalance in your intestinal flora, and it lays a basis for all kinds of health issues connected to digestion. If you have to take antibiotics, make sure you eat probiotic foods to give your good bacteria a hand. Yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut can do a nice job in preserving the balance of your intestinal flora.
Augmentin can provoke additional side effects, such as headaches, bloating, and gas. Taking it for an extended period may also cause damage to the liver, so make sure you never take it without a doctor’s supervision.
You can get an allergic reaction to these medicines. Anaphylaxis is a very severe allergic reaction that can lead to a condition called anaphylactic shock, which can be life-threatening. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include swelling, vomiting, lightheadedness, difficulty breathing, and so on. If you notice any of the symptoms, go to the emergency room immediately.
Depending on what type of infection you have and how serious it is, you’ll have to take Amoxicillin in doses of 250mg or 500mg three times a day, or in doses of 500mg or 875mg two times a day. In the case of gonorrhea, you’ll probably need to take 3g in a single dose.
Children who are 3 months or older can take a maximum of 45mg per kilo per day, in two doses, or a maximum of 40mg/kg/day in three doses. The amount varies on the condition.
You can take Amoxicillin with or without food, depending on your preference.
When it comes to Augmentin, you might be instructed to take 500mg two or three times a day, 250mg three times a day, or 875mg or 2000mg two times a day. Children who are less than 40kg can take the maximum dose of 45mg per kilo per day, in two doses.
Always take Augmentin with food, to reduce the adverse effect of the clavulanic acid on your stomach.
Amoxicillin generally does not interact with other drugs.
Augmentin is connected to a decrease in the effectiveness of birth control pills. Therefore, you’ll need extra protection throughout the treatment, if you want to avoid pregnancy. Also, combining this drug with allopurinol may cause a rash. Finally, combining it with probenecid causes toxic levels of amoxicillin in the body, because it stops the kidneys from eliminating it.
Word of Caution
If you’re not allergic to penicillin, and you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, Amoxicillin is generally safe. Aside from diarrhea, it is not likely to cause any problems for a nursing infant. However, in some cases, the baby can show signs of an allergic reaction, in which case it’s best to take it to the doctor immediately.
Even though Augmentin is considered safe for pregnant women and nursing mothers, there still isn’t enough research into the matter. Therefore, you might want to avoid it if you can.
Final Piece of Wisdom
All in all, there isn’t much difference between Amoxicillin and Augmentin. Both of these are antibiotics, and they help with a lot of the same infections. However, Augmentin can deal with a wider range of bacteria. On the other hand, it also provokes more negative side effects than Amoxicillin.
The bottom line is – don’t take either of these without prior consultation with your doctor. Never overuse antibiotics, because it can impact their effectiveness in the future. Make sure you follow the doctor’s instructions on the dosage and the duration of the treatment, and you’ll get better in no time.