Fact Checked

Augmentin Side Effects: What You Should Know

One of the hardest decisions people struggle with when they get sick is when to visit the doctor. This is especially true during fall and winter when the seasonal flu starts to circulate and cases of the common cold start increasing rapidly. Is it better to stay at home and let your body recover with some over-the-counter medications to ease the discomfort and bring your temperature down if you have a fever? Or, do you need prescription drugs to help you feel better? The deciding factor usually depends on the severity of symptoms, and often, after a few days of experiencing symptoms, people generally tend to visit their doctor’s office. In many cases, what you have might be the common cold or a viral infection that will resolve on its own. But sometimes, it might be a bacterial infection that is causing the symptoms. A bacterial infection may not self-resolve and could require a course of antibiotics. 

Antibiotics are prescription drugs that have the potent ability to prevent bacteria from multiplying and growing within the body. They are used to treat infections in any part of the body and depending on the bacterial species that causes the infection, the location and severity of infection, and the individual’s medical history, specific antibiotics are prescribed to treat an infection. Without treatment, bacterial infections have the ability to spread and grow further, and this can even become fatal in some conditions. Therefore, a trip to your doctor’s office can confirm whether your illness requires antibiotics. Sometimes, antibiotics are also taken for preventative reasons to reduce the risk of a severe infection occurring, such as after surgery, or if traveling to areas where certain bacterial infections are prevalent. 

Taking antibiotics correctly is crucial for your well-being and to ensure that the infection is completely resolved and does not come back. One of the biggest present-day health concerns is the ability of bacteria to become resistant to certain antibiotics. This can happen when antibiotics are not taken properly, such as not finishing your antibiotic course, or if antibiotics are overused and used indiscriminately, causing the bacteria to become immune to its effects. Many people start feeling better soon after starting an antibiotic course. This causes them to stop taking the entire course of the antibiotics. Additionally, many people fear taking antibiotics or stop taking them as soon as they start feeling better due to the side effects that antibiotics can cause. Antibiotics should not be discontinued without checking with your doctor first. In rare cases, people can develop a serious allergic reaction or experience extremely severe side effects. If this happens, contact your doctor immediately as such a severe allergic reactions could be potentially life-threatening. 

What is Augmentin?

Now we should answer the question: what is Augmentin? Augmentin is one of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics that is effective against a wide range of bacterial species is. Augmentin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that belongs to the beta-lactam family, which includes the penicillin-based antibiotics. Augmentin contains one of the most well known antibiotics within this family, called amoxicillin. Amoxicillin has been on the market since the 1970s, so it is well characterized and its antibiotic effects have been thoroughly studied. Augmentin also includes another chemical in its formulation called clavulanic acid that is a beta-lactamase inhibitor. But given this, what is Augmentin used for? The combination of amoxicillin at various doses and clavulanic acid gives Augmentin its unique and potent efficacy against a large variety of bacterial species. Due to this Augmentin is used to treat the following:

  • Bronchitis 
  • A sinus infection 
  • A skin infection 
  • Pneumonia 
  • Ear or throat infections 
  • Urinary tract infections, 
  • Animal or human bites 
  • Tonsillitis. 

Usually, Augmentin is given to people when the infection may not be susceptible to treatment by amoxicillin alone, or if resistance to amoxicillin is suspected. Augmentin is also prescribed when amoxicillin has been recently taken by the patient so the chances of the current infection not responding to amoxicillin are higher. 

How does Augmentin work? 

The amoxicillin component of Augmentin works against bacteria by preventing them from building their cell wall. Bacteria need their cell wall to keep themselves protected from their surroundings. Without a functional cell wall, they cannot survive. When these bacteria develop resistance against amoxicillin, they secrete another chemical called beta-lactamase that binds to the beta-lactam ring of amoxicillin and prevents its effects. The clavulanic acid component of Augmentin works against beta-lactamase to allow amoxicillin to interfere with the cell-wall synthesis of bacteria and thereby it continues to kill the bacteria. This makes Augmentin more effective than amoxicillin alone, but when amoxicillin is highly likely to work on its own, amoxicillin can be prescribed by itself. 

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How to take Augmentin 

Augmentin must be taken exactly as prescribed by your doctor. The drug is usually taken every 8 to 12 hours and can be taken with food to reduce the chance of getting an upset stomach. This medication should be taken at the dosage that is recommended by your doctor and the dosage should not be adjusted without consent from your doctor. If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember or if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose, and continue to take the medication on schedule. Even if you start feeling better before the entire course is finished, take the complete course. The infections may not be completely cleared even if all your symptoms have resolved before the course duration is over. Taking the entire course will help clear the entire infection. Augmentin is available, as tablets in an extended release form, or as a liquid formulation that must be refrigerated. 

Side Effects of Augmentin

Antibiotics like Augmentin are associated with some common side effects and some less common ones. Side effects may disappear as your body adjusts to the medication. The incidence of side effects can vary depending on whether you take the extended release or immediate release Augmentin tablet. Additionally, mixing other substances with this drug might cause different effects, such as combining Augmentin and alcohol

The most common side effects of taking Augmentin are listed below. If any of these symptoms persist or become bothersome contact your doctor.  

  • Diarrhea/loose stools
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Vaginitis
  • Urticaria

Other side effects that are rare and do not usually require medical attention include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shaking
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Irritability
  • Hyperventilation
  • Restlessness
  • Trouble sitting still

Some side effects that require immediate medical attention and must be reported to your doctor immediately if they occur include:

Less common:

  • Itching
  • Hives or welts
  • Vaginal itching or genital itching
  • Redness of skin
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Skin rash
  • Thick, white vaginal discharge with mild to no odor

Rare:

  • Seizures
  • Fever
  • Bloody or cloudy urine
  • Swelling of feet or lower legs
  • Greatly decreased frequency or amount of urine

Get emergency help immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms of an overdose of Augmentin:

  • Abdominal or stomach pain
  • Cloudy urine
  • Diarrhea
  • Greatly decreased frequency of urination or amount of urine
  • Sleepiness

This is not an exhaustive list of rare side effects that may occur with Augmentin. For more information on rare side effects with unknown incidence, you can read more here. Some of these side effects with unknown incidence include:

  • Black, hairy tongue
  • Black, tarry stools
  • Bleeding gums
  • Bloating
  • Blood in the stools
  • Bloody nose
  • Chest pain
  • Chills
  • Cough or hoarseness
  • Cracks in the skin
  • Difficulty with breathing
  • Difficulty with swallowing
  • Dizziness
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Headache
  • Heavier menstrual periods
  • Increased thirst
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of heat from the body
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Pain, swelling, or redness in the joints
  • Puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • Red, irritated eyes
  • Red, swollen skin
  • Scaly skin
  • Swollen glands
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Unpleasant breath odor
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness
  • Unusual weight loss
    • Vomiting blood

If you experience any of these Augmentin side effects, seek medical attention immediately. An adverse reaction to this medication can be dangerous and requires immediate attention from a healthcare provider. 

Who should not take Augmentin

Augmentin should not be taken by people who have a penicillin allergy. Pregnant women should also discuss whether to take this medication with their doctor, as it can cause complications during pregnancy. Additionally, people with a history of  a patient with a liver problem or kidney disease should not take Augmentin. Inform your doctor if any of these conditions apply to you. 

Certain drug interactions can also be dangerous. If you're on any other medication, tell your doctor before taking Augmentin to avoid experiencing a potentially serious side effect of the drug. 

How to save on Augmentin 

To purchase Augmentin, take your prescription in to your preferred pharmacy. Augmentin can be purchased at a discounted price through a drug coupon, available through USA Rx. Using this can get you up to 53% savings on buying Augmentin. You can also sign up for a pharmacy discount card, available through USA Rx, that gets you savings on all FDA approved drugs and is accepted at almost all pharmacies across the nation. This is a great option for people who do not have health insurance or who do not have good prescription drug coverage with their insurance plans.  Anyone can sign up for the card and it is completely free of cost. Remember to follow all instructions when taking Augmentin and follow up with your pharmacist or healthcare provider if you have any concerns. 

Published August 5th, 2020 by Chris Riley
Fact Checked by Chris Riley

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