Augmentin is a type of antibiotic used to combat bacterial infections. It has two active ingredients: amoxicillin and clavulanic acid. Amoxycillin belongs to the penicillin group of antibiotics. Penicillin antibiotics can sometimes be made inactive, the clavulanic acid prevents this from happening. Adding clavulanic acid means that Augmentin can be used to treat some strains of bacteria that are resistant to traditional antibiotics. This includes sinus infections, chronic ear infections, severe skin infections, bacterial infections related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and laryngitis.Augmentin is also good at treating recurring infections such as urinary tract infections. Antibiotics work by attacking things that bacteria cells have which human cells don’t. Penicillin keeps bacteria from building a cell wall to prevent it from surviving. Augmentin is used for both adults and children to treat the following types of illness: Respiratory tract infections Urinary tract infections Ear infections (particularly in children) Bone and joint infections, particularly dental infections Skin and soft tissue infections
Bacteria are living things that only have one cell, they are really small, you can fit around 1000 of them on a pencil eraser. Not all bacteria are harmful to humans, in fact, many bacteria are helpful. They digest food, destroy cells that can cause diseases and help provide our bodies with vitamins that we need. Bacteria are also great for making healthy foods like cheese and yoghurt. Because we can’t see bacteria it is often hard to prevent the harmful ones from spreading. Although a lot of bacteria can be easily removed by washing with soap and water. Less than 1 percent of the various types of bacteria around us make people sick, however, bacteria have been the cause of many illnesses for hundreds of years; illnesses known as the plague or the black death that killed thousands. These kinds of illnesses are now fortunately treatable by antibiotics.
Some bacteria are known as pathogenic, this means they only cause illness if they manage to overwhelm our immune systems. Others will only cause illness under the right circumstances. These are called opportunistic pathogens. Bacteria is present on our skin and clothes, it can be transferred to others on our hands, through droplets of saliva, on things we’ve touched etc. Different bacteria can survive outside of the human body for different times depending on the circumstances. MRSA, bacteria can survive for days or even weeks outside of the body and tends to survive longer on hard surfaces. Although you cannot completely eliminate the possibility of catching an infection, there are things we can do to help prevent infections from spreading.
- Wash your hands frequently: after going to the toilet, before handling food, when you cough, sneeze or blow your nose.
- Keep a clean, hygienic home environment: particularly if someone in your family is ill.
- Wash fabrics that may have come into contact with bacteria at 60°C using a laundry detergent that has a bleach base.
Bacterial infections are generally treated with antibiotics, the type of antibiotics will depend on the type of infection. When you take antibiotics bacteria in your body starts to learn how to resist them, therefore antibiotics must be prescribed by a doctor. Bacterial infections and viruses often have similar symptoms, only a doctor will be able to diagnose an infection. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses.
What is Augmentin?
Augmentin is a type of antibiotic used to combat bacterial infections. It has two active ingredients: amoxicillin and clavulanic acid. Amoxycillin belongs to the penicillin group of antibiotics. Penicillin antibiotics can sometimes be made inactive, the clavulanic acid prevents this from happening. Adding clavulanic acid means that Augmentin can be used to treat some strains of bacteria that are resistant to traditional antibiotics. This includes sinus infections, chronic ear infections, severe skin infections, bacterial infections related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and laryngitis.Augmentin is also good at treating recurring infections such as urinary tract infections. Antibiotics work by attacking things that bacteria cells have which human cells don’t. Penicillin keeps bacteria from building a cell wall to prevent it from surviving.
Augmentin is used for both adults and children to treat the following types of illness:
- Respiratory tract infections
- Urinary tract infections
- Ear infections (particularly in children)
- Bone and joint infections, particularly dental infections
- Skin and soft tissue infections
How do you use Augmentin?
You should always follow the instructions given to you by your doctor when it comes to taking medication. Augmentin usually comes in tablet form and should be swallowed whole with a glass of water. The tablets come with a score along the middle so you can break them in two to make them easier to swallow. You must still take both pieces at the same time. When Augmentin is prescribed for children it usually comes as a liquid or in powder sachets so that it is easier for them to take. Augmentin can also be given by intravenous injection, but this is only done in hospital.
What dosages are there?
Each Augmentin tablet contains two active ingredients, 500mg of amoxycillin and 125mg equivalent of potassium clavulanate. The tablets come in blister packs containing 4, 10, 12, 14, 16, 20, 24, 30, 100 or 500 tablets.
Your doctor will prescribe the right amount for you and if you are unsure about dosages always check with your doctor. You will also be told how long you need to take the tablets for.
A guideline for dosages is as follows:
- Adults and children weighing 40kg and over should take 1 tablet three times a day.
- Children weighing less than 40kg should take Augmentin in liquid or powder sachet form. Particularly if they are aged 6 or under.
If you forget to take your tablet when you are supposed to take it as soon as you remember, but always leave at least 4 hours between doses. Never take a double dose. If you take too much Augmentin you are likely to have stomach pains, be sick, have diarrhea or convulsions. You should seek medical advice immediately if you have taken too much Augmentin. You should always finish the full course of Augmentin as prescribed by your doctor. Even if you feel better. If you stop your treatment too soon you may experience a relapse as the infection will not have cleared completely, if some bacteria survive the infection could come back.
What are the side effects of Augmentin?
As with all medicines, Augmentin comes with some possible side effects. Not everyone will get side effects. Some side effects are more common than others.
Very common side effects that may affect more than 1 in 10 people:
- Diarrhoea (for adults)
Common side effects that may affect up to 1 in 10 people:
- Nausea: particularly if you are taking a high dosage
- Diarrhoea (for children)
If you feel nauseous when taking Augmentin, taking your tablets with or after your meals may help you feel better.
Less common side effects may affect up to 1 in 100 people:
- Rashes on the skin, itching
- Increase in liver enzymes in your blood (will show up in blood tests)
Rare side effects will only affect up to 1 in 1000 people:
- A skin rash with dark spots in the center surrounded by a paler area and then a darker ring around the edge, possibly with blisters. This is called erythema multiforme. If you have it you should seek urgent medical assistance.
You should also be aware of the following conditions:
Severe allergic reaction:
- Swelling around the mouth, tongue face and neck
- Fever or joint pain
- Swollen glands
- Skin rashes
- Blood vessel inflammations: this may cause purple or red spots on the skin but can also affect other parts of the body.
If you notice any of these signs you should seek urgent medical assistance:
- Inflammation of the large intestine
- Inflammation of the large intestine causes watery diarrhea which usually contains blood and mucus, alongside fever and stomach pain
If you have these systems speak to a medical professional as soon as possible.
When shouldn’t you take Augmentin?
Don’t take Augmentin if you are allergic to amoxicillin, clavulanic acid, penicillin or any of the other ingredients listed on the patient leaflet for this medicine. Do not take Augmentin if you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any type of antibiotic, this includes swelling around the face or skin rashes.
Do not take Augmentin if you have ever had liver problems or jaundice when taking an antibiotic. Patients with liver or kidney problems, glandular fever or difficulty urinating should speak to their doctor before taking Augmentin as you may need a different dose or extra monitoring during your treatment.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding you should get advice from your doctor about taking Augmentin. Some of the side effects of Augmentin may affect your ability to drive or operate machinery safely. You need to ensure you don’t have these side effects (dizziness, problems with vision, tiredness) if you are going to drive. Try avoiding driving for the first few days of taking medication until you know whether you’ll experience these side effects.
Does Augmentin interact with other medications?
Always mention any medicines you are taking or have recently taken when you are talking to your doctor. This includes herbal supplements and vitamins as they can interact or alter the effect of some medicines.
For Augmentin you should particularly mention if you are taking:
- Allopurinol for gout as it could increase your likelihood of a skin reaction
- Medicine to prevent blood clots (like Warfarin) as you may require extra blood tests
- Probenecid for gout: you may need a different dose of Augmentin
Augmentin can affect how methotrexate works. Methotrexate is used to treat cancer or rheumatic disease. It can also affect mycophenolate mofetil, a drug used to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs.
Where can you buy Augmentin?
You can order Augmentin online if you have a prescription from a doctor. You can also buy it from pharmacies all over the UK. This gives you plenty of options when it comes to finding a convenient way of getting your medication.
Can I get Augmentin without a prescription?
No, you cannot buy Augmentin without a prescription, all antibiotics in the UK require a prescription from your doctor as taking too many antibiotics can cause you to become resistant to it and therefore put you in serious danger at a later date.
Beecham Group Augmentin Patient Leaflet (October 2017) Retrieved from https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/files/pil.281.pdf
Medical News Today What’s the difference between Amoxicillin and Augmentin? (January 2019) Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324218.php
Medline Plus Bacterial Infections (April 2019) Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/bacterialinfections.html
NHS UK Common Health Questions: Infections (August 2018) Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/infections/
React Group Understand Bacteria: Bacteria and Infection (No date) Retrieved from https://www.reactgroup.org/toolbox/understand/bacteria/bacteria-and-disease/