Amoxicillin vs. Augmentin: Differences and Comparison between Side Effects, Dosage, and Uses

  • Medical Reviewer: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Amoxicillin (amox-clav) vs. Augmentin comparison of differences

What is amoxicillin? What is Augmentin? How do they work?

Amoxicillin belongs to a class of antibiotics called penicillins. Other members of this class include ampicillin (Unasyn), piperacillin (Pipracil), ticarcillin (Ticar), and several others. Amoxicillin is used to treat infections due to bacteria that are susceptible to the effects of amoxicillin. Common bacterial infections that amoxicillin is used for include infections of the middle ear, tonsils, throat, larynx (laryngitis), bronchi (bronchitis), lungs (pneumonia), urinary tract, and skin. Amoxicillin also is used to treat gonorrhea.

Augmentin (amoxicillin/clavulanate) is a combination antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections including sinusitis, pneumonia, ear infections, bronchitis, urinary tract infections, and infections of the skin. Amoxicillin belongs to the penicillin drug class.

What are the uses for amoxicillin vs. Augmentin?

Amoxicillin uses

  • Amoxicillin is used to treat infections due to bacteria that are susceptible to the effects of amoxicillin.
  • Common bacterial infections that amoxicillin is used for include infections of the
  • It also is used to treat gonorrhea.

Augmentin uses

  • Augmentin is effective against susceptible bacteria causing infections of the:
    • middle ear (otitis media),
    • tonsillitis,
    • throat infections (pharyngitis),
    • laryngitis,
    • bronchitis,
    • sinusitis, and
    • pneumonia.
  • It also is used in treating urinary tract infections, and skin infections.

What are the side effects of amoxicillin vs. Augmentin?

Amoxicillin side effects

Common side effects of Amoxicillin include:

Other important side effects include:

More serious side effects and adverse reactions include:

  • seizures,
  • severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), and
  • low platelet or red blood cell count.

Augmentin side effects

Common side effects of Augmentin are:

  • abdominal discomfort,
  • bloating,
  • diarrhea,
  • gas,
  • headache,
  • heartburn,
  • nausea, and
  • vomiting.
  • Other important side effects include:
  • bloody or prolonged diarrhea,
  • easy bruising or bleeding,
  • reversible hepatitis,
  • rash, and
  • allergic reactions.

Serious but rare reactions include seizures, severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), and low platelet or red blood cell count.

Antibiotics like amoxicillin and Augmentin can alter the normal bacteria in the colon and encourage overgrowth of some bacteria such as Clostridium difficile which causes inflammation of the colon (pseudomembranous colitis). Patients who develop signs of pseudomembranous colitis after starting Augmentin (diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, and possibly shock) should contact their physician immediately. Persons who are allergic to the cephalosporin class of antibiotics, which are related to the penicillins, for example, cefaclor (Ceclor), cephalexin (Keflex), and cefprozil (Cefzil), may or may not be allergic to penicillins.

What is the dosage of amoxicillin vs. Augmentin?

Amoxicillin dosage instructions

  • For most infections in adults the dose of amoxicillin is 250 mg every 8 hours, 500 mg every 8 hours, 500 mg every 12 hours or 875 mg every 12 hours, depending on the type and severity of infection.
  • For the treatment of adults with gonorrhea, the dose is 3 g given as one dose.
  • For most infections, children older than 3 months but less than 40 kg are treated with 25 or 45 mg/kg/day in divided doses every 12 hours or 20 or 40 mg/kg/day with one-third of the daily dose given every 8 hours depending on the type and severity of the infection.
  • Amoxicillin can be taken with or without food.

Augmentin dosage instructions

  • Augmentin should be taken on a full stomach to reduce stomach upset. No more than one tablet should be taken at a time since the extra clavulanic acid can cause stomach upset.
  • Recommended adult doses are 500 mg every 8-12 hours, 250 mg every 8 hours, 875 mg every 12 hours, or 2000 mg every 12 hours.
  • Dosing is based on the amoxicillin component.
  • Pediatric patients weighing more than 40 kg should receive adult doses.
  • Pediatric patients weighing less than 40 kg should receive 20 to 45 mg/kg every 8 or 12 hours.

What drugs interactions occur with amoxicillin vs. Augmentin

Amoxicillin drug interactions

Augmentin drug interactions

  • Co-administration of probenecid, a drug used for treating gout, prevents the normal elimination of amoxicillin by the kidneys and can cause high, toxic blood levels of amoxicillin.
  • Augmentin may decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills, increasing the risk of unexpected pregnancies.
  • Combining Augmentin and allopurinol (Zyloprim, Aloprim) may increase the occurrence of skin rash.

Are amoxicillin and Augmentin safe to take if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

Amoxicillin safety

  • Penicillins are generally considered safe for use by pregnant women who are not allergic to penicillin.
  • Small amounts of amoxicillin may be excreted in breast milk and may cause diarrhea or allergic responses in nursing infants. Amoxicillin is generally considered safe to use while breastfeeding. Amoxicillin is used to treat infections in the newborn.

Augmentin safety

  • Use of Augmentin in pregnant women has not been well studied. Penicillins are generally considered safe for use by pregnant women who are not allergic to penicillin.
  • Augmentin is excreted in breast milk and may cause diarrhea in the infant.

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Summary

Amoxicillin and Augmentin (amox-clav) are antibiotics used to treat a variety of bacterial infections that include bronchitis, tonsillitis, sinusitis, pneumonia, laryngitis, skin infections, and urinary tract infections. Amoxicillin is a penicillin antibiotic, and Augmentin or amox-clav chemically is closely related to ampicillin and penicillin.

Amoxicillin and Augmentin have similar side effects such as rash, heartburn nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, easy bruising or bleeding, and allergic reactions.

Augmentin also causes side effects like gas, bloating, headache, and reversible hepatitis. Both amoxicillin and Augmentin have serious side effects that should be reviewed prior to taking either antibiotic.

Dosage instructions for amoxicillin and Augmentin depend upon the drug and type of bacterial infection being treated. Both antibiotics have drug interactions, and are not recommended if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

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Medically Reviewed on 11/10/2017
References
REFERENCES: FDA Prescribing Information.
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