If you or your child have ever had to take antibiotics for a bacterial infection, the prescribed medicine is most likely amoxicillin or augmentin (amoxicillin clavulanate).
The common opinion on these two drugs is that Augmentin is simply a stronger version of amoxicillin, but this is not entirely true. Augmentin contains a second active ingredient, which makes it better suited for treating some infections than others.
The same goes for amoxicillin, and to make the distinction between drugs even more dangerous, there are several infections that both treat just as effectively. Ultimately, the antibiotic a doctor prescribes will depend on the type of disease being treated and the bacteria causing it.
Amoxicillin is often the first antibiotic prescribed for common bacterial infections, especially those that cause illness in children, such as ear, nose, and throat infections, including tonsillitis .
This antibiotic is also the first choice for:
(Note that while amoxicillin can kill many of the same bacteria as penicillin, it is less effective than penicillin against Streptococcus pneumococcus, a bacterium commonly associated with meningitis and systemic bacteremia.)
The side effects of amoxicillin are generally relatively mild, which is another reason why it is often prescribed to children. The most common are skin rashes, vaginal itching, and a dark or "hairy" tongue. Digestive side effects like nausea and vomiting can occur, but these are much more common with Augmentin.
As with penicillin, people predisposed to it are at risk for an allergic reaction to amoxicillin. Symptoms include a rash, itching, swelling of the face, tongue, and / or throat, shortness of breath, and dizziness. It can be life threatening. Before prescribing amoxicillin, it is vital that the healthcare professional review the medical history to determine if the patient has a history of allergy to antibiotics.
Augmentin is amoxicillin combined with a beta-lactamase inhibitor called clavulanate, an ingredient that blocks enzymes that contribute to antibiotic resistance.
Adding a beta-lactamase blocker to amoxicillin allows Augmentin to overcome resistance to more difficult-to-treat bacteria, expanding the range of infections it can treat. It is for this reason that Augmentin is classified as a broad spectrum antibiotic .
Augmentin can treat the same bacteria as amoxicillin, but it is also effective against some untreatable infections. even:
It should be noted that there are several infections in which Amoxicillin and Augmentin are prescribed in the same way:
- Pyelonephritis (kidney infections)
- Erysipelas, a type of skin infection.
- Chronic strep vectors
The most common side effect of Augmentin is diarrhea. Some people may also experience nausea, vomiting, yeast infections, and skin rashes .
Choosing the right antibiotic
If you have an infection and you don't always know what bacteria is causing it, it may seem like it makes sense to use an antibiotic that will kill most insects. However, this can cause serious problems .
Used indiscriminately, antibiotics can destroy "good" bacteria along with "bad" bacteria, thus disrupting the body's natural flora and allowing even more dangerous bacteria to multiply.
Another even more pressing issue is that the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance . Resistance develops when the antibiotic you use cannot completely kill the bacteria in your body, often because you stopped treatment early.
When this happens, several mutated bacteria can survive, some of which may have natural resistance to the antibiotic you were taking. Since it has not "gotten infected" enough, these survivors now have a chance to multiply and become the dominant strain. So the next time you develop an infection, the antibiotic won't work either.
If this happens with a broad-spectrum antibiotic like Augmentin, you are at a higher risk of developing various types of drug resistance. With a "narrow spectrum" antibiotic such as amoxicillin, the effects may be less severe.
How to avoid antibiotic resistance
- Always take antibiotics as directed.
- Complete the entire course, even if you feel better.
- Don't save antibiotics for the future.
- Do not use other people's antibiotics.
- Don't take antibiotics for viral infections.
- Avoid overuse. Only take antibiotics if your healthcare provider thinks it's necessary.
Get the word of drug information
Regardless of whether you are prescribed amoxicillin, augmentin, or another antibiotic, you don't have to worry as much about the "potency" of the drug; it's all about the safety, efficacy, and appropriateness of the treatment.
People are sometimes surprised and even puzzled when amoxicillin is given for a serious infection such as pneumonia. But in many cases, this may be all that is needed to cure the infection.
If you are not sure whether a prescribed antibiotic is "strong enough," talk to your doctor. This is especially true if you have a new healthcare provider or don't visit as often.
If you have had recurring infections in the past for which amoxicillin has not worked, tell your doctor. The more your healthcare provider knows about your past antibiotic use, the better you will be able to choose.