Amoxicillin


1. About amoxicillin

Amoxicillin is a penicillin antibiotic. It is used to treat bacterial infections, such as chest infections (including pneumonia) and dental abscesses. It can also be used together with other antibiotics and medicines to treat stomach ulcers.

It's often prescribed for children, to treat ear infections and chest infections.

Amoxicillin is only available on prescription. It comes as capsules or as a liquid that you swallow. It's also given by injection, but this is usually only done in hospital.


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3. Key facts

  • For most infections, you'll start to feel better in a few days.
  • The most common side effects of amoxicillin are feeling sick (nausea) and diarrhoea.
  • Liquid amoxicillin can stain your teeth. This does not last and is removed by brushing.
  • You can drink alcohol while taking amoxicillin.
  • Sometimes, taking amoxicillin can cause thrush.

4. Who can and cannot take amoxicillin

Amoxicillin can be taken by most adults and children.

Find out more about giving amoxicillin to children on the Medicines for Children website.

Amoxicillin is not suitable for everyone. To make sure amoxicillin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you:

  • have ever had an allergic reaction to amoxicillin or penicillin or any other medicine
  • have liver or kidney problems
  • have recently had, or are due to have, any vaccinations

5. How and when to take amoxicillin

The usual dose of amoxicillin capsules is 250mg to 500mg, taken 3 times a day. The dose may be lower for children.

Amoxicillin liquid is available in 125mg and 250mg doses.

Important

Carry on taking this medicine until you've completed the course, even if you feel better. If you stop your treatment early, the infection could come back.

Try to space the doses evenly throughout the day. If you take it 3 times a day, this could be first thing in the morning, mid-afternoon and at bedtime.

You can take amoxicillin before or after food.

Swallow amoxicillin capsules whole with a drink of water. Do not chew or break them.

Amoxicillin is available as a liquid for children and people who find it difficult to swallow capsules.

If you or your child are taking liquid amoxicillin, it will usually be made up for you by your pharmacist. The medicine will come with a plastic syringe or spoon to help you measure out the right dose. If you do not have one, ask your pharmacist for one. Do not use a kitchen teaspoon as it will not measure the right amount.

If you forget to take it

If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember, unless it's nearly time for your next dose. In this case, just leave out the missed dose and take your next dose at the usual time.

Never take 2 doses at the same time. Never take an extra dose to make up for a forgotten one.

If you forget doses often, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to remember your medicines.

If you take too much

Taking an extra dose of amoxicillin is unlikely to harm you or your child, but speak to your pharmacist or doctor if you're worried.


6. Side effects

Like all medicines, amoxicillin can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them.

Common side effects

These common side effects happen in around 1 in 10 people. Keep taking the medicine, but talk to your doctor or pharmacist if these side effects bother you or do not go away:

  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • diarrhoea

Serious side effects

Serious side effects are rare and happen in less than 1 in 1,000 people.

Call a doctor or contact 111 straight away if you get:

  • diarrhoea (possibly with stomach cramps) that contains blood or mucus or severe diarrhoea that lasts for more than 4 days
  • pale poo and dark pee, and the whites of your eyes or your skin turn yellow (although this may be less obvious on brown or black skin) – these can be signs of liver or gallbladder problems
  • bruising or changes in your skin colour
  • joint or muscle pain that comes on after 2 days of taking the medicine
  • a skin rash with circular red patches (this may be less obvious on brown or black skin)

Some of these serious side effects can happen up to 2 months after finishing the amoxicillin.

Serious allergic reaction

Around 1 in 15 people have an allergic reaction to amoxicillin.

In most cases, the allergic reaction is mild and can take the form of a skin rash.

Mild skin rashes can usually be treated by taking antihistamines.

In rare cases, amoxicillin can cause a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).

These are not all the side effects of amoxicillin. For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicines packet.


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8. How to cope with side effects of amoxicillin

What to do about:

  • feeling sick – stick to simple meals and do not eat rich or spicy food. It might help to take your amoxicillin after a meal or snack.
  • diarrhoea – drink plenty of fluids, such as water or squash, to avoid dehydration. Signs of dehydration include peeing less than usual or having dark, strong-smelling pee. Do not take any other medicines to treat diarrhoea without speaking to a pharmacist or doctor. If you take contraception and you have severe diarrhoea for more than 24 hours, your contraceptive pills may not protect you from pregnancy. Check the pill packet to find out what to do.

9. Pregnancy and breastfeeding

It is safe to take amoxicillin during pregnancy.

Amoxicillin and breastfeeding

It is OK to take amoxicillin while breastfeeding. Information shows that only tiny amounts of amoxicillin get into breast milk. Such levels would not be expected to cause side effects in your baby.

Talk to your doctor, pharmacist, health visitor or midwife if:

  • your baby is not feeding as well as usual
  • they have sickness or diarrhoea
  • your baby has oral thrush, or a skin rash
  • you have any other concerns about your baby

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For more information about how amoxicillin can affect you and your baby during pregnancy, visit the Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPS) website.


11. Cautions with other medicines

There are some medicines that do not mix well with amoxicillin.

Tell your doctor if you're taking any of these medicines before you start taking amoxicillin:

  • methotrexate, used to treat arthritis and psoriasis
  • warfarin, a medicine to prevent blood clots
  • gout medicines called probenecid or allopurinol
  • other antibiotics

Tell your doctor if you've recently had, or are due to have, an oral typhoid vaccine. Amoxicillin can make it less effective.

Mixing amoxicillin with herbal remedies and supplements

There is little information about taking herbal remedies and supplements alongside amoxicillin.


12. Common questions about amoxicillin

Page last reviewed: 12/11/2021
Next review due: 12/11/2024