The most common treatment option for bacterial infections are antibiotics. Among various antibiotics in use, amoxicillin is considered as one of the most popular formulations. It is used to treat a range of infections that include chest infections, urinary tract infections and dental abscesses among others. It is also used for treating pneumonia among patients, apart from treating ear infections that commonly afflict children. Available as capsules, in liquid form and as injections administered in hospitals, amoxicillin is commonly prescribed and popular. Here is a look at the side effects of amoxicillin, to help mitigate or prevent undesirable effects.
How does the medication work?
To understand more about the side effects of amoxicillin it is necessary to understand all about the mechanism of action. Amoxicillin belongs to the penicillin class of drugs and essentially work by eliminating bacteria that is the cause of the infections. By killing the bacteria and preventing its spread in the body, the penicillin class of medications treat various infections. The antibiotic works by preventing penicillin binding protein 1 and other proteins from certain reactions that result in cross linking in the bacterial cell walls. This action prevents the enzymes from building or repairing cell walls. As a consequence, bactericidal action is the outcome, thereby treating the infection. The antibiotic keeps the bacteria in a static phase of growth and prevents it from proliferating. The bactericidal tag is attributed to the mechanism of action where the death of the bacteria helps in treating infections effectively.
Overview of the antibiotic and side effects of amoxicillin
Before we look at the side effects of amoxicillin it is necessary to understand more about the formulation and the manner in which it works. For instance, amoxicillin, like man other antibiotics actually delivers results in a short time, with patients reporting improvements in just a few days. However, it is necessary to continue the prescribed course, for reasons that will be explained in one of the sections below. An added advantage of amoxicillin is the fact that it can be safely taken by individuals who consume alcohol, without any adverse effects commonly associated with antibiotics and alcohol.
Ideal dosages to prevent side effects of amoxicillin
Some of the side effects of amoxicillin are attributed to consumption of incorrect dosage. Consequently, individuals experience certain adverse effects. Here is a look at the ideal recommended dosages for various conditions. It is important to remember that the recommended dosages are typically broad recommendations and are mainly the ‘average’ dosage. Individuals may be prescribed slightly different dosages depending on specific conditions and associated parameters.
In oral tablet form, Amoxicillin is typically available in 500 mg and 875 mg presentations. The antibiotic is available as oral chewable tablets in presentations between 125 mg to 400 mg. It is also available in an extended-release formulation with a strength of 775 mg. Whenever prescribed for patients for treating ear infections, nose infections and infections of the throat, ideal dosages are recommended to prevent side effects of amoxicillin. When chewable tablets and immediate release formulations are recommended for adults up to the age of 65, the typical recommended dosage is 500 mg twice a day. When it is given as 250 mg, it is given four times a day. For children, up to the age of 17 years, the ideal daily dosage is a maximum of 25 mg for every kilo of body weight, with the total dosage divided to be taken equally four times every day. The dosage for children below the age of 3 months requires specialist medical advice.
To avoid side effects of amoxicillin, the extended-release formulation of amoxicillin prescribed for adults up to the age of 65 years is 775mg per day, with the ideal course extending for a period of ten days. There are certain instructions that need to be followed when on the medication. For instance, it is to be taken within an hour of taking a meal, to ensure that the optimal results are experienced. The same recommendations in terms of dosage and instructions apply for children between the ages of twelve to seventeen years. The extended-release formulation is generally not advised to be taken by children below the age of twelve years and is only recommended in certain conditions by a specialist. As mentioned above, one of the side effects of amoxicillin are incorrect dosage, and this is especially true in the case of the elderly population. Individuals above the age of 65 years are generally recommended a mild or lower dosage to prevent exposure to risk of side effects. The main consideration is the relatively weaker functioning of the kidneys.
When prescribed for patients with urinary tract infections, the ideal dosage for adults up to the age of 64 years is 500 mg twice a day. When the same is split into 250 mg doses, it is taken four times a day. In the case of children below the age seventeen years, the recommended daily dosage is typically 25 mg per kilo of body weight, with the medications advice to be taken four times per day. For infants, it is necessary to seek specialist medical advice before going on a course of antibiotics. Adults above the age of sixty-five years are typically recommended lower dosages taking into consideration the relatively poor functioning of the kidneys.
The dosage for skin infections is the same as the above two conditions and does not differ across different categories. However, the dosage changes in the case of individuals being treated for lower respiratory tract infections. The ideal dosage is two doses of 875 mg per day or four doses of 500 mg per day for adults up to the age of 65 years. Similarly, the recommended dosage for children up to the age of 17 years also increase to 45 mg for every kilo of body weight per day, with the doses taken divided into four doses every day. Children below the age of two months are to be thoroughly checked by the treating specialist to determine safe dosages to prevent side effects of amoxicillin. Similar to other conditions, elders above the age of 65 are generally recommended lower dosages to prevent the possibility of adverse effects of the medication.
The strongest possible dosage of amoxicillin is for patients suffering from gonorrhoea. Adults up to the age of 64 years are recommended 3 grams as a single dosage, while those below seventeen years are prescribed 50 mg per kilo of body weight. To avoid any possible side effects of amoxicillin, children below the age of two are not advised to take the medication for this condition, while in the case of elders above 65 years, the dosage is lowered accordingly. The medication is also prescribed for treating ulcers of the stomach and the intestines It is either administered as part of dual therapy or triple therapy and the actual dosage depends on the combination.
Commonly reported side effects of amoxicillin
Without exception all medications result in undesirable outcomes other than the desired outcomes. The actual side effects depend on various factors, and could differ from person to person depending on these parameters. While commonly reported side effects of amoxicillin include the following, it is important to known that is a compilation of side effects. It is not necessary for every individual on the medication to experience side effects or to experience side effects with the same intensity and duration. Many are known to not experience or discern any side effects. The average rate of individuals experiencing side effects mentioned below is one in every ten patients. For instance, feelings of nausea, and frequent bouts of diarrhea are a possible side effect that can be experienced by 10% of the patients on the medication. Additionally, there are serious side effects that occur among patients, though this is extremely rare and is known to occur in only 0.1 percent of the patients. These rare but serious side effects of amoxicillin include diarrhea that is accompanied by bleeding or discharge of mucus. Individuals may also experience cramps when having diarrhea. A serious bout of diarrhea is typically one where the individual has diarrhea that continues beyond two days.
Other side effects of amoxicillin include discoloration of faeces and discoloration of urine, that indicate complications as a result of the medication. Individuals who experience a yellowing of the skin or yellowing of the whites of the eyes are also deemed to have experienced adverse effects that are attributed to the problems in the gallbladder or the liver. Pain in the muscles that is experienced after two days of medications, or abnormal bruising are also indications of undesirable effects. Individuals may also experience a rash on the skin with red patches that are circular in nature. It is important to note that certain adverse effects may actually manifest even two months after the medication has been taken.
Rare side effects of amoxicillin : allergies
Allergic reactions are other serious side effects of amoxicillin. The rate of experience of such side effects is rare, affecting one out of every fifteen individuals on the medication. The skin condition known to commonly manifest due to the antibiotic includes rashes that itch. These rashes may appear raised from the surrounding skin. Patients are also likely to experience coughing and wheezing as a result of the condition, while some may experience allergies that are mild in nature. These mild allergies can be managed or controlled through antihistamines either prescription medication or OTC formulations.
Managing the side effects of amoxicillin
Now that the side effects of amoxicillin have been outlined, it is time to understand the best methods to manage the side effects. Patients who experience feelings of nausea are advised to avoid certain diets. For instance, food that is considered as spicy in nature or rich in ingredients and style of preparation are to be avoided. Additionally, individuals are also advised to take the medication after the meal or after having a snack as this will help reduce feelings of nausea. Patients experiencing diarrhea as a result of the medication are advised to consume sufficient water to prevent dehydration. One of the main effects of diarrhea is extreme dehydration when the patient experiences bouts of diarrhea for more than three or four days, there is every possibility of extreme dehydration. Simple symptoms that indicate possible dehydration are urine that smells very strong and passing of lesser quantities of urine. Self-medication during diarrhea is an incorrect practice and could result in other adverse reactions. Patients are advised to seek medical attention when bouts of diarrhea are experienced.
Side effects of amoxicillin : Drug interactions
One of the side effects of amoxicillin is the possibility of interactions with other drugs. This could be OTC medication or this could be prescription drugs. Patients on certain medications such for treating gout may experience undesirable side effects. Similarly, patients on blood thinners may also experience side effects. Typically, the use of blood thinners as medications may be for a longer duration, depending on the condition, and it is therefore necessary for patients to exercise utmost caution. There is also the possibility of amoxicillin interacting with other antibiotics, and it is therefore essential to intimate the treating specialist of other medications in use.
There are certain medications that trigger an increase in the levels of amoxicillin in the body. Consequently, there is likely to be an increase in the possibility of side effects of amoxicillin. For instance, drugs including probenecid and allopurinol are known to increase the levels of the antibiotic in the body. This will take it beyond the desired levels or the recommended dosage levels and could trigger undesirable effects. Similarly, the antibiotic can also cause an increase in the levels of other drugs. As a consequence of this, there is every possibility of exposing the individual to side effects from those drugs. For instance, medications prescribed for treating blood clots may end up with raised levels beyond the desired or targeted levels. As a result, the patient may be exposed to the risk of bleeding when the levels are higher than required.
Among the advantages of amoxicillin, the fact that it is not known to interact with herbal formulations and supplements, makes it a relatively safer option. Most of the medications that have side effects or interactions with other medications are known to have interactions even with herbal preparations.
When does the side effects of amoxicillin require medical attention?
Some of the side effects of amoxicillin may require medical attention at the earliest. For instance, patients who experience hypersensitivity reactions are advised to seek medical attention. The commonly reported symptoms of hypersensitivity include body pain, sudden fever, and other symptoms that are commonly associated with the flu. Patients are also likely to end up with a sore throat, while others may experience a rash. This could be either purple in color or red in color and is also known to spread from the area of first appearance. Other symptoms include the outbreak of blisters that result in the skin having open sores. The skin is also likely to break open as a result of this.
Among other side effects of amoxicillin, the impact on the liver also requires medical attention. This condition is extremely rare, but in the event of any of the symptoms being observed, individuals are expected to seek medication attention. For instance. any abnormal pain that is not attributed to any specific condition could be an indication of side effects of amoxicillin. Similarly, as mentioned earlier, the discoloration of the whites of the eyes or the skin could also indicate problems in the liver. Blood tests that report an increase in liver enzymes is also an indication of possible problems in the liver as a result of the medication. Patients who experience extreme tiredness for no explained or known reasons are also to consider the possibility of having liver problems as a result of the medication.
Tips to follow while on the medication
Individuals on the medication are expected to follow certain instructions and best practices to avoid side effects of amoxicillin. For instance, despite the fact the medication may fetch results in just a few days after taking the medication, it is essential t continue the full course as prescribed. This will ensure that the infection is fully brought under control and the bacteria do not build resistance to the antibiotic. When the infection is not fully controlled or treated, the bacteria that remains end up with building resistance to the medication. Consequently, when the patient suffers an infection the next time, the medication will not have any impact in terms of treating or managing the condition.
Individuals who experience any kind of allergic reaction that is persistent in nature or an infection that spreads are expected to seek medical attention at the earliest to control the allergies. Most individuals are unaware that serious allergic reactions can actually end up being fatal in nature when it is left uncontrolled.