What is Amoxicillin?

Amoxicillin (Amoxil) is an antibiotic in the penicillin group of drugs. Amoxicillin as other antibiotics fights bacteria in your body.

Amoxicillin (Amoxil) is usually used to treat many different types of infections that are caused by bacteria, such as pneumonia, ear infections, bladder infections, gonorrhea, and E. coli or even salmonella infection.
Amoxicillin (Amoxil) is also used together with another antibiotic that is called clarithromycin (Biaxin) to treat stomach ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori infection. Also this combination is sometimes used with Prevacid, that is a stomach acid reducer.

What is important to know about Amoxicillin (Amoxil)?

Do not use Amoxicillin (Amoxil) if you are allergic to amoxicillin or to any other penicillin antibiotic, such as ampicillin (Principen, Omnipen), dicloxacillin (Dynapen, Dycill), oxacillin (Bactocill), penicillin or others.

Before using Amoxil (amoxicillin), inform your pharmacist if you are allergic to cephalosporins such as Ceftin, Ceclor, Keflex, Duricef or others.

Tell your doctor if you have:

  • a history of any type of allergy
  • liver disease
  • mononucleosis (also called “mono”)
  • asthma
  • kidney disease
  • a bleeding or blood clotting disorder
  • a history of diarrhea caused by taking antibiotics

If you have any of these conditions, you may need a amoxicillin dose adjustment or special tests to safely take it.

Note, that amoxicillin can make birth control pills less effective, which may result in pregnancy. Before taking amoxicillin, inform your pharmacist if you use birth control pills.

Take Amoxicillin for the entire length of time prescribed. Your symptoms may get better before the infection is completely treated. Amoxicillin is an antibiotic, so it will not treat any viral infection such as the common cold or flu.

Do not give amoxil to another person, even if they have the same symptoms you do.

Antibiotic medicines can cause diarrhea, which may be a sign of a new infection. If you have diarrhea that is watery or has blood in it, call your doctor immediately. Do not use any medicine to stop the diarrhea unless your doctor has told you to.

Amoxicillin FDA pregnancy category B and is not expected to be harmful to an unborn baby. But you should tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.

Amoxicillin can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use Amoxicillin (Amoxil) without telling your doctor.

Amoxicillin (Amoxil) chewable tablets may contain phenylalanine. Talk to your doctor before using this form of amoxicillin if you have phenylketonuria (PKU).

Amoxicillin Side Effects

Anaphylactic Reaction

One of the most dangerous of all amoxicillin side effects is anaphylactic reaction. A life-threatening type 1 hypersensitivity reaction to Amoxicillin which is given internally or orally. Around 1500 patients die yearly due to an anaphylactic reaction in the United States. However, this serious allergic response of the body only occurs in those patients that have a real allergy to penicillin and any of its derivatives, as opposed to people who present with pseudo-anaphylaxis or an anaphylactoid reaction. An anaphylactic reaction to Amoxicillin is characterized by the following signs and symptoms:

1) Normally, a true anaphylactic reaction with systemic signs and symptoms begin showing within three days of exposure to the allergen, without the need of further exposure. One of the first signs seen is skin involvement. This includes skin rashes, generalized hives, itchiness, flushing. Fever is often experienced by people, along with the skin rashes.
2) Swelling of lips, tongue and/or throat is also seen, as this is the body’s natural way of responding and fighting any inflammation.
3) Difficulty in breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing or any other respiratory distress may also be seen.
4) Severe abdominal cramps, stomach pain, diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems may also occur.
5) Other serious side effects of Amoxicillin that may occur if immediate action is not taken to deal with the symptoms includes coronary artery spasms, which may lead even to myocardial infarction. A sudden drop in blood pressure may occur, this may lead to lightheadedness and fatigue, along with loss of consciousness.

Other Amoxicillin (Amoxil) Side Effects

Nausea: Frequent nausea and vomiting are one of the other common Amoxicillin side effects in women. These are normally very mild and rarely life-threatening. There may also be diarrhea along with nausea and vomiting.

Oral Thrush: Oral thrush is often noticed as a super-infection in case of overdose of amoxicillin. Whenever there is an overdose of antibiotic consumption, there is often an adverse reaction due to impairment with the immunity. This can lead to increased susceptibility to other opportunistic infections like oral thrush or candidiasis and other fungal infections of other organs.

Liver damage: One of the more serious amoxicillin side effects, which only occurs after long-term use and abuse of the drug is liver damage. Hepatotoxicity is a very unfortunate but true side effect of amoxicillin (and other antibiotics), especially when the drug is a combination of amoxicillin and clavulonic acid. This mostly occurs due to cholestasis (hepatocellular injury and inability of the bile to flow from the liver).

Gastrointestinal Distress: One of the amoxicillin side effects in infants is often digestive distress. When the body is not used to intake of amoxicillin, the digestive tract often acts adversely, leading to stomach cramps, abdominal cramps, pain in lower abdomen etc. These symptoms may even mimic irritable bowel syndrome.

How to Avoid Amoxicillin Side Effects

1) It’s important to take a detailed history of the patient before prescribing amoxicillin. Most patients that get an allergic reaction to amoxicillin (amoxil) are aware of their tendency to develop them. Hence, taking a detailed case history is the first and foremost way of preventing amoxicillin side effects.

2) Before using Amoxicillin a patch test should be done to check for any possible allergic reaction, as giving amoxicillin to a person that is allergic to it can lead to a quick and potentially fatal anaphylactic reaction (see above).

3) Cases of people that are just suspected to be allergic to amoxicillin should preferably be given other non-penicillin derivative antibiotics to prevent any allergic reaction to penicillin-antibiotics.

Although Amoxicillin (Amoxil), being the “wonder drug” that it is, is a huge temptation for doctors, as it encompasses treatment for a wide range of diseases, however, if the patient gives a history of or even a slight hint of a tendency towards any type of allergy towards amoxicillin, then it is best to avoid giving this drug, so as to completely do away with the possibility of amoxicillin side effects.

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