Amoxicillin is a prescription antibiotic that is used to treat a wide range of bacterial infections. The medication belongs to the class of penicillins, which means that it works by preventing bacteria from forming the walls that surround them.
How Does Amoxicillin Work?
Amoxicillin prevents bacteria from forming the cell walls that surround them. The cell walls protect the bacteria from their environment, so when they are unable to grow the walls the bacteria are unable to survive. By obstructing their protective mechanism, Amoxicillin effectively kills of bacteria and prevents the spread of infection.
How Is Amoxicillin Taken?
Amoxicillin may be taken orally as a dry tablet, chewable tablet, capsule, liquid preparation (suspension) or as drops for children.
Depending on the doctor’s instructions, Amoxicillin may be taken twice a day – every 12 hours – or 3 times a day – every 8 hours.
Tablets and capsules should be taken with water, while chewable tablets should be fully chewed before ingestion.
Food is not necessary to take Amoxicillin, though the doctor may advise it just to be safe. The liquid form of the medication can be mixed with other liquids like baby formula, fruit juice, milk or water.
It is important to follow the exact directions of your medication. Make sure the dosage and frequency abide by the doctor’s instructions so that you heal as quickly as possible.
If you miss a dose, make sure to take it as soon as possible. If it is nearly time for the next dose, do not take a double dosage – just skip the dose that you missed. Amoxicillin prescriptions should never be taken in a double dose.
Continue taking your Amoxicillin until the entire course of antibiotic is over. Ending the treatment early increases your risk of developing bacterial resistance to the antibiotic. It also could allow for the infection to return.
Amoxicillin Side Effects
Like all medications, amoxicillin can occasionally have unwanted side effects. Some of these side effects are mild, while some are more severe. It’s important that the doctor check whether you are allergic to penicillin, because an anaphylactic reaction can be fatal.
Signs of an allergic reaction to amoxicillin include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Rash or hives
- Chest tightness
- Swelling of the face and/or throat
If you experience any of these symptoms while taking amoxicillin you should speak with a doctor as soon as possible.
About 10 percent of people taking amoxicillin may experience any of the following: diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, upset stomach and general digestion problems, or a fungal infection known as thrush, which can appear in the mouth, digestive tract, and vagina.
Thankfully, the benefits of taking amoxicillin outweigh the risks. None of the above side effects are particularly serious and all of them should subside quickly. If you have an allergy to penicillin or amoxicillin, you may experience more severe symptoms. Talk to your doctor about any antibiotic allergies to ensure that you are prescribed an alternative that you will not react to.
It is important that you discuss all of your current medications with your doctor when deciding whether amoxicillin is right for you. Amoxicillin works well with some medications but can have unwanted interactions with others.
Interactions may occur with:
- Treatments for gout such as allopurinol or probenecid
- Anticoagulant medications like warfarin
- Other antibacterials like macrolides, chloramphenicol, sulfonamides or tetracycline
- Some muscle relaxants
- Reducing the body’s ability to excrete the drug after use, thus increasing toxicity of the drug
- Increasing the effectiveness of other drugs
- Reducing the effectiveness of other drugs
All of these interactions can be hazardous.
Amoxicillin may also affect the results of certain diagnostic tests like the urine glucose test, which tests blood sugar for diabetes.
Amoxicillin and Birth Control
Some antibiotics may affect the efficacy of your birth control. They may cause enzymes in the liver to break down estrogens faster, decreasing the level of estrogen in the body and reducing the effects of birth control pills.
Antibiotics may also potentially reduce the recirculation of estrogen throughout your body. Estrogen is broken down in the liver and converted into other chemicals that are then dispersed into your intestines. Bacteria inside your intestines take these chemicals and reform them into active estrogen that gets reabsorbed into the body. In theory, antibiotics can neutralize the bacteria that convert the chemicals back into estrogen, but studies have yet to prove that this can lead to unwanted pregnancies.
Amoxicillin should not have this effect on your birth control. To date, the only antibiotic that is known to reduce the effect of birth control pills is rifampin, which is usually prescribed as a treatment for tuberculosis and infections that can lead to meningitis. If you are taking a simple broad spectrum like amoxicillin you should have no issues with your birth control.
What Is Amoxicillin Used For?
Because amoxicillin is a broad spectrum antibiotic it can be used to treat a wide range of bacterial infections. Take a look at some of the things amoxicillin can be used for here:
Amoxicillin for Strep Throat
Strep throat is a bacterial infection of the throat and tonsils. The main bacteria responsible for causing strep throat is known as Streptococcus pyogenes, or simply group A Streptococcus. This strain of bacteria is also known to cause certain skin infections, like impetigo and cellulitis. It is also responsible for scarlet fever, toxic shock syndrome, and some cases of sinusitis.
In rarer cases, strep throat may be tied to group B Streptococcus, but this strain is more commonly associated with blood infections, bacterial pneumonia, and a condition known as meningitis, an infection of the membranes wrapped around your spinal cord and brain.
It’s important to note that strep throat is caused by a bacterial infection and antibiotics are only effective at neutralizing bacteria. They are completely ineffective on infections caused by viruses, fungi, or other invading antigens.
Once you know for sure that you have strep throat, your doctor can prescribe antibiotics for you. When taking antibiotics, your condition should improve within one or two days (after which point you are no longer contagious), but make sure to take the full course of the antibiotics, usually lasting about 10 days. This ensures that the bacteria are completely neutralized from your body. Stopping midway also increases the chances of promoting bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.
Penicillin and Amoxicillin are the two top choices for doctors when treating strep throat. Amoxicillin is a common antibiotic used to treat strep throat because it is broad spectrum. This means that it may be more effective and convenient for some patients than penicillin, because it attacks a wider range of bacteria.
Amoxicillin for Chlamydia
Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that affects women and men. Chlamydia is caused by a bacterial infection that is transmitted by having oral, anal, or vaginal sex with a person who already has chlamydia. Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted bacterial infection in the US, and yet more than half of infected individuals exhibit no symptoms. Chlamydia is curable, but requires antibiotics to clear the infection.
Amoxicillin is a common treatment regimen for both Chlamydia. Amoxicillin is used for women who are breastfeeding, pregnant, or planning to become pregnant. Though not necessarily the first choice of treatment for Chlamydia, it can be used for those who have allergies to other medicines.
Amoxicillin for Bronchitis
Bronchitis is an infection of the lungs. When the main airways or bronchial tubes become inflamed due to an infection, the inner lining swells and produce extra mucus, triggering coughs as the body attempts to clear the passageways. Most cases of bronchitis come after a viral illness, like the flu, and clear up on their own after a few weeks. Some cases are more unique or are recurring, which require a different course of treatment.
In rare cases, bronchitis is caused by a bacterial infection. If your doctor determines that this is the case they will likely prescribe amoxicillin to treat the infection. If you have asthma or allergies, a doctor may also prescribe an inhaler, which counteracts the narrowing of the airways and helps shortness of breath while the amoxicillin clears your infection.
Amoxicillin for Sinus Infection
Sinusitis (or sinus infections) remain one of the most common ailments in the United States. The symptoms of sinusitis include feeling of congestion, runny nose, facial pain or pressure, headaches, fever and dental pain. When a person with acute sinusitis has runny nose the nasal discharge is often thick and greenish/yellow.
When sinus infections are particularly severe or last more than 10-14 days it typically means that a bacterial infection has developed in the sinuses. When this occurs, your doctor may prescribe a course of antibiotics. Amoxicillin is the antibiotic of choice for sinus infections because of its broad scope. 5 days of amoxicillin should knock out your infection and get you healthy.
Can You Get Amoxicillin Over the Counter?
A prescription is required to get antibiotics in the United States, which means that amoxicillin is not available over the counter.
Once you have been diagnosed and treated by your doctor, you may be prescribed amoxicillin for continued treatment or symptom management at home. The process for receiving your amoxicillin prescription is generally the same whether you see a doctor in person or speak to one online.
- The doctor writes you a prescription. In-person, this can mean a handwritten prescription or a digital prescription sent directly to a pharmacy. Prescriptions can be sent to a retail pharmacy, mail-order pharmacy, or pharmacy inside your doctor’s office. Online doctors only have the digital option and will likely send the prescription to a retail pharmacy in your area.
- When your pharmacist or pharmacy benefits manager—the company that manages insurance coverage for any medication—receives the prescription, they will check to make sure the medicine your doctor prescribed is actually covered under your insurance plan.
- Your pharmacist will then tell you what medication you can have and how much you will have to pay for it. Based on your doctor’s recommendation, costs, and other personal factors, you can now decide what medication to use. It’s a good idea to consult with your doctor to determine what medication would be most effective for your health while staying within your budget.
- Once you make your decision, you can pick your medication up at your pharmacy. Some doctors and pharmacists offer the option of having the medication mailed to your home. Some pharmacists will not know how much you’re supposed to pay until they actually charge you at the register.
Get Amoxicillin Online
To get an amoxicillin prescription online you can call PlushCare or visit our online booking page. This is designed to give you complete control over your own schedule and needs, whether you need a same-day appointment or want to plan ahead. While scheduling an appointment, you will be asked to sign in or, if you’re a new patient, create a profile. You can set up your payment options and insert your health insurance information.
At the time of your appointment, simply log on to your profile at plushcare.com or on our mobile app and click join video chat. Then the doctor will see you on the screen and discuss your symptoms with you.
At the end of this consultation, your doctor will provide a diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan for your condition. Your doctor may also prescribe any necessary medications (as permitted under law).
If you need an online physician, contact PlushCare and book an appointment today! If you’d like assistance booking, you can call 1-888-706-4541 and one of our Care Coordinators would be happy to assist you.
Read more in our Antibiotics Series: