Augmentin and amoxicillin are two types of antibiotics. Antibiotics help treat bacterial infections that may be too strong for the body’s immune system to clear.

The two drugs are very similar. Amoxicillin is a commonly prescribed antibiotic, and Augmentin contains a combination of amoxicillin and clavulanate or clavulanic acid. This may make it more effective against some types of infections.

Doctors often prescribe amoxicillin to treat strep throat, tonsilitis, and urinary tract infections (UTIs). They prescribe Augmentin for sinus infections, laryngitis, and ear infections.

Read more to learn about the differences between the two antibiotics and the potential side effects.

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Both antibiotics are in the penicillin drug class.

Augmentin contains amoxicillin as the primary ingredient in addition to clavulanic acid, which can help treat infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The two antibiotic drugs are the first line of defense against stubborn bacterial infections.

It is important to note that these drugs do not work on viral infections such as the common cold or flu. Taking antibiotics unnecessarily may make them less effective over time and lead to antibiotic resistance.

Doctors use amoxicillin and Augmentin to treat bacterial infections. Learn more about their uses below:

Amoxicillin

Many people are familiar with amoxicillin. It is a conventional drug that doctors prescribe for bacterial infections in children and adults.

Children may be more likely to receive prescriptions for amoxicillin, as it is effective against several childhood infections and tends to have minimal side effects.

Amoxicillin treats a wide range of bacteria. Doctors may recommend it for infections such as:

Augmentin

Augmentin is a combination drug. It is a mixture of amoxicillin and clavulanate or clavulanic acid.

Clavulanate is a beta-lactamase blocker. It stops the enzymes that infectious bacteria produce to make themselves more resistant to antibiotics.

Because it contains clavulanate, Augmentin can treat some strains of bacteria that may be resistant to traditional antibiotics. This means it may be more effective for a wider range of bacteria.

Doctors prescribe Augmentin to treat the same infections as amoxicillin. They can also prescribe it for infections that could be more drug-resistant, including:

Doctors may also prescribe Augmentin for people who have recurring infections such as UTIs or strep throat.

Amoxicillin and Augmentin share some side effects, but others are specific to Augmentin.

Side effects of both drugs

As both drugs contain amoxicillin, they have some common side effects, such as:

Like other antibiotics, Augmentin and amoxicillin may also alter the healthy growth of bacteria in the intestines. This can cause a temporary imbalance in the intestinal flora. People who frequently use antibiotics may have a higher risk of these issues because their gut bacteria may have less time to recover.

According to the authors of a 2015 review, consuming probiotic foods after a round of antibiotics could help reestablish balance in the gut bacteria.

Augmentin and amoxicillin may also increase the risk of yeast infections in some people. These are fungal infections that need antifungal treatment.

In very rare cases, some people may also experience seizures or low blood or platelet levels after taking these antibiotics.

It is also possible to be allergic to these medications. Allergies cause about 5–10% of drug reactions.

A severe allergic reaction can lead to a dangerous complication called anaphylaxis. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • swelling of the face, mouth, or throat
  • wheezing
  • vomiting
  • difficulty breathing
  • lightheadedness
  • shock

Anaphylaxis can be life threatening. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek emergency medical care.

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be life threatening. The symptoms develop suddenly and include:

  • hives
  • swelling of the face or mouth
  • wheezing
  • fast, shallow breathing
  • a fast heart rate
  • clammy skin
  • anxiety or confusion
  • dizziness
  • vomiting
  • blue or white lips
  • fainting or loss of consciousness

If someone has these symptoms:

  1. Check whether they are carrying an epinephrine pen. If they are, follow the instructions on the side of the pen to use it.
  2. Dial 911 or the number of the nearest emergency department.
  3. Lay the person down from a standing position. If they have vomited, turn them onto their side.
  4. Stay with them until the emergency services arrive.

Some people may need more than one epinephrine injection. If the symptoms do not improve in 5–15 minutes, or they come back, use a second pen if the person has one.

Side effects of Augmentin

Augmentin may cause additional side effects, including:

It may also lead to an overgrowth of bacteria called Clostridium difficile. This can cause severe diarrhea that requires treatment to prevent complications.

If a person has severe side effects, they should contact a doctor. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notes that while Augmentin has a low risk of toxicity, people who take it for a longer period should be under close supervision, as there may be a chance of damage to the kidney or liver.

Generally, doctors advise that people avoid consuming alcohol while taking antibiotics.

Despite this, alcohol does not make amoxicillin less effective. It slows the absorption rate, meaning it will take longer to work, but it does not affect how much the body absorbs it. While it is not a good idea to consume alcohol in excess, a person can safely consume moderate amounts while taking Augmentin or amoxicillin.

Learn more about mixing antibiotics with alcohol.

Some drugs, supplements, and foods can interact with medications, making them less effective or causing dangerous side effects. If a doctor prescribes amoxicillin or Augmentin, a person should disclose any medications or supplements they are taking.

Several known drug interactions with amoxicillin and Augmentin include:

DrugUseInteraction
Allopurinol (Uricto, Zyloric)Prevents gout attacks.Moderate — it raises the risk of a skin rash.
Methotrexate (Maxtrex, Jylamvo)Helps treat rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and some cancers.Severe — it can increase toxicity.
Warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven)Treats and prevents blood clots.Severe — it can affect Warfarin’s anticoagulant effect.

Learn more about drug interactions.

Anyone with questions about their antibiotics should consult a doctor or pharmacist.

Anyone who has experienced an allergic reaction to an antibiotic, especially penicillin, should inform their doctor before taking another antibiotic. It is also best to check the packaging for additional ingredients such as flavorings or coatings. People should discuss any potential allergens with a doctor before using either medication.

Some drugs or supplements can change how effective an antibiotic is. Doctors may ask people to stop taking certain supplements or medications while on antibiotics.

Anyone who becomes pregnant while taking Augmentin should contact a doctor. People who are nursing may also need to avoid taking Augmentin.

Amoxicillin and Augmentin are similar drugs that may help clear many bacterial infections. A doctor may recommend Augmentin if an infection could be antibiotic-resistant or if amoxicillin alone does not work.

The drugs are generally well-tolerated, but there is still a chance of side effects. Anyone taking these drugs should follow their dosage instructions closely.