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What is amoxicillin good for?

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UsesDosageDrug formsSide effectsSummary
Doctors typically prescribe amoxicillin for treating bacterial infections, such as dental abscesses and ear or chest infections. Amoxicillin is available in various forms and is also suitable for children.
Medically reviewed by Alyssa Walton, PharmD
Updated on February 7, 2024

Amoxicillin (Amoxil) is a type of penicillin antibiotic that can treat bacterial infections, such as those affecting your chest, ear, and stomach. It should only be taken when a doctor prescribes it.

Amoxicillin is only available as a prescription drug and comes in various forms, including oral tablets, suspension powder, and liquid. In some cases, you may receive amoxicillin in the form of an injection, but this is typically only available in hospitals.

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What is amoxicillin used to treat? 

Amoxicillin is an antibiotic medication that doctors prescribe for treating certain types of bacterial infections. It belongs to the drug class known as penicillin-like antibiotics and works by preventing the growth of bacteria.

The conditions that amoxicillin can treat include:

  • ear, nose, and skin infections
  • throat bacterial infections, such as tonsillitis
  • lower respiratory tract bacterial infections, such as pneumonia
  • sinus infections
  • urinary tract infections

Antibiotics do not work for viral infections, such as the flu and colds. You should never take amoxicillin unless a doctor prescribes it to you. Taking antibiotics without needing them can increase the chance of antibiotic resistance and may cause several side effects without improving your health condition.

What dosage is right for me?

An adult holding an oral syringe to give a child amoxicillin
1927687369MTStock Studio/Getty Images

The dosage of amoxicillin usually depends on several factors, such as:

  • the condition that requires treatment
  • the severity of the condition
  • your age
  • how you respond to the first dose
  • other medical conditions you may have

Amoxicillin also comes as an oral suspension and a capsule. The following table focuses on the dosage of amoxicillin you should take related to its oral tablet form, as this is the form doctors most often prescribe.

InfectionSeverityTypical dose for adultsTypical dose for children older than 3 months of age
Nose/throat/ear
skin
mild to moderate250 milligrams (mg) every 8 hours
or
500 mg every 12 hours
20 milligrams per kilogram each day (mg/kg/day) in divided doses every 8 hours
or
25 mg/kg/day in divided doses every 12 hours
Nose/throat/ear
skin
severe500 mg every 8 hours
or
875 mg every 12 hours
40 mg/kg/day in divided doses every 8 hours
or
45 mg/kg/day in divided doses every 12 hours
Lower respiratory tractmild to severe500 mg every 8 hours
or
875 mg every 12 hours
40 mg/kg/day in divided doses every 8 hours
or
45 mg/kg/day in divided doses every 12 hours

When taking antibiotics, always follow a doctor’s advice. Your required dosage may vary depending on the infection you have and what form of amoxicillin a doctor prescribes to you.

How to take amoxicillin

Amoxicillin comes in several different forms, including:

  • film-coated tablets
  • chewable tablets
  • capsules
  • liquid suspension

People typically take amoxicillin twice a day, every 12 hours, or three times a day every 8 hours. Try to take amoxicillin around the same times each day. You can take this medication with or without food. The length of your treatment depends on the type of infection you have and how severe it is.

If you do not understand the instructions on the prescription label, you can ask a pharmacist or a doctor for further clarification.

If you are taking film-coated tablets or capsules, swallow them with a glass of water, but if you take chewable tablets, always crush or chew them thoroughly before swallowing them.

Doctors may prescribe amoxicillin suspension to children as it is easier to make sure they take the correct dosage. Before taking the medication, always shake the suspension well to mix the drug evenly.

Suspensions may be mixed with other cold liquids, such as fruit juice, milk, or water, or placed directly on your tongue. Before mixing amoxicillin with other drinks, make sure you always ask a doctor first.

What are the possible side effects of amoxicillin?

Some common side effects you may experience when taking amoxicillin can include:

Amoxicillin may sometimes cause severe side effects and allergic reactions. You should get medical help immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • bloody stools that occur with or without stomach cramps
  • rash
  • skin peeling or blisters
  • hives
  • itching
  • wheezing
  • difficulties swallowing
  • breathing problems
  • swelling in your throat, face, eyes, tongue, or lips

Summary

Amoxicillin is a prescription antibiotic that can help treat several types of bacterial infections. Amoxicillin comes in the form of tablets, capsules, and suspensions. Doctors typically recommend taking amoxicillin twice or three times per day. The dosage and length of the treatment depend on the type of infection and its severity.

Amoxicillin can only treat certain bacterial infections and does not work for viral infections. Never take amoxicillin or any other antibiotics unless a doctor prescribes them to you.

Download the free Optum Perks Discount Card to save up to 80% on some prescription medications.

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