Amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium (AMC), also known as augmentin, is an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections. AMC is available in a range of dosing formulations, with the largest dose providing 875 mg of amoxicillin, a penicillin-like drug, and 125 mg clavulanate potassium, which is also similar to penicillin. This dose is used in adults and sometimes in older children to treat infections resistant to the effects of antibiotics, and to treat sinus infections, pneumonia, bronchitis and infections of the ear, skin and urinary tract. Side effects may occur from either drug component, with gastrointestinal and skin reactions the most common ill effects.
Gastrointestinal (GI) side effects are the most common reaction noted with the use of AMC. According to a safety review published in the February 2009 issue of “Expert Opinion in Drug Safety,” 3 to 6 percent of users may experience mild or moderate GI side effects including including cramping, nausea or vomiting, and up to 15 percent of users may experience diarrhea. Taking this medication with food may help to lessen these effects. If you have severe vomiting or diarrhea, including watery or bloody diarrhea, report this to your doctor and seek advice before treating these symptoms with over-the-counter medications.
Skin and Allergic Reactions
Allergic reactions occur in less than 1 percent of people prescribed AMC, according to the review in “Expert Opinion in Drug Safety.” AMC should not be used in anyone allergic to penicillin or with an allergy to either drug components. Skin rashes, itching, hives, swelling or less commonly, difficulty breathing or severe skin reactions that are accompanied by fever or muscle pain may occur. These reactions indicate an allergy or hypersensitivity to the drug, so inform your doctor right away for recommendations on stopping this medication and for advice on treating the reaction. Face or tongue swelling, severe hives and difficulty breathing require immediate medical attention.
Other Potential Side Effects
AMC may also cause headache and may increase the risk of vaginal infections. Inform your doctor if have have any of these side effects. Although a rare side effect, liver injury may also be associated with AMC use. Inform your doctor right away if you have pale or yellowed skin, dark-colored urine, yellowing of the eyes, clay-colored stools or any change in mental status or behavior -- even if these symptoms occur after you have completed the course of this antibiotic. Rarely, blood-related side effects may occur, noticed by a rash of purple spots on the skin or bruising more easily.
Warnings and Precautions
Unless your doctor advises you stop AMC due to a side effect, this antibiotic should be taken for the entire time it is prescribed. Stopping this medication early may increase the risk of an additional or worsened infection. Be sure your doctor is aware of any other medicines you take, including blood thinners, other antibiotics or birth control pills. Also, inform your doctor of any other medical conditions you have -- including liver or kidney disease -- to avoid severe side effects. If you are pregnant or nursing, your doctor will determine the risks and benefits of using AMC compared to other antibiotics.