Augmentin is an antibiotic. It’s used to treat many types of bacterial infections, including infections of the:
- urinary tract
Augmentin is a combination drug. It consists of the antibiotic amoxicillin and a beta-lactamase inhibitor called clavulanic acid. Clavulanic acid helps prevent bacterial resistance to amoxicillin. This allows amoxicillin to do its job and fight the bacteria.
Because amoxicillin is a penicillin antibiotic, one of the rare but possible side effects is an allergic reaction from a penicillin allergy. Read on to learn about other side effects of this drug, as well as who should be particularly cautious when taking Augmentin and who shouldn’t take it at all.
Many people use Augmentin without any side effects. It’s generally a safe drug. Still, side effects are possible. Some are more common than others, especially among people of different age groups. Some effects are also more serious. You should know how to recognize these and what to do if you start to have symptoms.
Generally, side effects don’t differ between the immediate-release and extended-release versions of Augmentin. However, a fungal infection of the vagina may occur more frequently in women who take the extended-release version.
More common side effects
When the more common side effects of Augmentin are mild, they usually disappear within a few days. These side effects include:
- diarrhea or loose stools
- skin rashes or hives
Serious side effects
It’s important to know the potential serious side effects of Augmentin as well as their symptoms. Knowing what to do if you have symptoms of these side effects is even more important.
Severe allergic reactions
Serious allergic reactions to Augmentin are rare but possible. You’re more likely to have this effect if you’re allergic to penicillin or have a history of allergies. Before taking Augmentin, make sure your doctor knows about all of your allergies, especially to drugs. If you have an allergic reaction to Augmentin, you must stop taking it. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include:
- severe skin rash
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
Call 911 and go to the nearest emergency room right away if these symptoms are life-threatening.
This effect is rare, and it’s usually reversible when the drug is stopped. In some rare cases, though, it has led to death. If you need to take Augmentin for more than 10 days and you already have liver disease, your doctor will check your liver function frequently while you take this drug. Signs and symptoms of liver disease or worsening liver disease can include:
- yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes
- stomach pain
- severe nausea or vomiting
- loss of appetite
- extreme tiredness
- easy bruising
- dark or tea-colored urine
- changes in stool color
Call your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms.
This type of diarrhea can occur from the use of almost all antibiotics. Antibiotic use changes the balance of bacteria you normally have in your gut. This imbalance can lead to overgrowth of bacteria known as Clostridium difficile, which can lead to diarrhea. Although this condition is rare for most people, it’s more common in people who:
- have had antibiotic-associated diarrhea before
- are older
- have compromised immune systems
Antibiotic-associated diarrhea is usually mild, but if it doesn’t resolve, it can lead to severe inflammation of your colon. Taking probiotics may help rebalance your gut bacteria. Ask your doctor if a probiotic is right for you. Diarrhea that occurs during treatment usually ends when the antibiotic use ends. However, it can continue after treatment. If you have diarrhea that lasts for more than three days, contact your doctor right away.
Make sure your doctor knows about all medical conditions you have before you take Augmentin. Some conditions can make taking this drug unsafe. Others may just mean that your doctor needs to adjust your dosage. Conditions to discuss include:
Severe liver disease: You shouldn’t take Augmentin if you have a history of cholestatic jaundice or severe liver disease. Augmentin can make liver disease worse. Make sure your doctor knows about any liver function problems you have before you take this drug.
Infectious mononucleosis: Don’t take Augmentin if you have infectious mononucleosis, more commonly known as mono. Taking Augmentin with this infection can cause a red, itchy skin rash.
Kidney disease: Tell your doctor if you have severe kidney disease or if you’re on dialysis. Your doctor will need to adjust your dose of Augmentin. Taking it at normal doses if you have kidney disease could lead to a buildup of this drug in your body, which can increase your risk of side effects.
Taking Augmentin with other medications can sometimes lead to unwanted interactions. Always tell your doctor about all the drugs you take, including over-the-counter products, herbs, and vitamins. Drugs that specifically interact with Augmentin include:
Probenecid or allopurinol: These drugs are usually used to treat gout. If you take them while you take Augmentin, your risk of side effects such as skin rashes increases.
Anticoagulants like warfarin: Taking Augmentin and warfarin or other anticoagulants together increases your risk of abnormal bleeding. Your doctor will need to monitor you closely if you take these drugs together. They may adjust your dose of warfarin.
Oral contraceptives (birth control pills): Augmentin can alter the normal flora in your gut. This can lower the levels of estrogen that your body absorbs, which can make your birth control less effective. This increases your chance of becoming pregnant.
Talk to your doctor
Augmentin is usually a very safe drug. Side effects can occur, but they’re usually mild. Knowing the symptoms of severe side effects can help you identify them if they do occur so you can take action right away. If you’re not clear about your specific risk of side effects, ask your doctor.