Augmentin is the brand name of a combination antibiotic drug containing amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium.
It’s used to treat bacterial infections in your airways, such as a sinus infection or pneumonia.
It’s also available in an extra-strength formulation (Augmentin ES), an extended-release formula (Augmentin XR), and under the brand name Amoclan.
Amoxicillin is a penicillin antibiotic that kills bacteria by blocking production of a chemical the germs need to build their cell walls.
Clavulanate is a chemical that helps antibiotics overcome some bacteria’s antibiotic resistance.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Augmentin in 1984. GlaxoSmithKline is one of several manufacturers that produce it.
Augmentin can cause a severe form of diarrhea called Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD). It’s marked by loose, watery stool with an unusually foul smell.
If not treated promptly, CDAD causes dehydration and can cause sepsis in severe cases.
Since dehydration can disrupt your levels of sodium and potassium, you may have tremors, feel weak, have an irregular heartbeat, or all three.
Augmentin, like other penicillin antibiotics, can cause a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.
If you are sensitive to it, you may break out in hives, have trouble breathing, and your mouth, gums, and throat may swell.
Don’t take Augmentin if you are allergic to it or any of the ingredients in it.
Avoid Augmentin if you’ve had an allergic reaction to another penicillin antibiotic or beta-lactam antibacterial drug.
Talk to your doctor before taking Augmentin if you:
- Have liver or severe kidney problems, especially if you need dialysis to prevent kidney failure
- Have mononucleosis
- Have ulcerative colitis
- Have HIV/AIDS
- Have acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)
- Take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Jantoven, Coumadin)
- Take Probalan (probenecid)
Augmentin and Pregnancy
Most doctors consider Augmentin generally safe to take while pregnant.
Nonetheless, talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant or are breastfeeding before taking this medication.
Taking Augmentin during pregnancy may lower your estrogen level.
Because it lowers estrogen levels, Augmentin makes birth control pills less effective.
If you are taking oral contraceptives, consider using a back-up form of contraception while taking Augmentin and for a few weeks afterward.
Augmentin may be passed to a breastfeeding infant through breast milk, though it’s generally considered safe.
Nonetheless, talk to your doctors about the risks of taking Augmentin before breastfeeding.