What Makes Augmentin Different From Amoxicillin?

If you find yourself with an ear, nose, throat, or even skin infection, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to treat it. The most common treatment for these types of infections is usually either augmentin or amoxicillin. These drugs are specifically designed to treat bacterial infections, and will not work on any kind of virus, such as a cold or the flu (via Medical News Today). However, because the bacteria strains that cause these infections can be different, it's important to find the right antibiotic to target the right bacteria. 

Augmentin and amoxicillin fall into the penicillin classification, with amoxicillin being an enhanced version of the first penicillin, although it is more potent since it can withstand the acid produced by the stomach (per Difference Between). Both drugs have a number of things in common, which can lead to some questions from patients, such as which drug is the right one for their particular condition. But despite their similarities, augmentin and amoxicillin do have some key differences, which should be taken into account when considering treatment.

Augmentin has one key difference

What patients looking to understand the main difference between augmentin and amoxicillin should know is that augmentin actually is amoxicillin, with one key distinction. In addition to amoxicillin, augmentin also contains clavulanate or clavulanic acid. This is a beta-lactamase blocker that gives augmentin the ability to keep bacteria from producing antibiotic-resistant enzymes. Having clavulanate in its arsenal broadens the spectrum of bacteria that augmentin can combat, allowing it to treat even the most challenging strains of bacteria.

In other words, the presence of clavulanate in augmentin means that it can be used to treat some ailments that are more difficult to treat with amoxicillin alone (per NURX). These include sinus and skin infections, and lung disorders, such as pneumonia. Plus, augmentin's bacteria-battling capabilities also make it a useful ally against stubborn illnesses that have a tendency to recur, such as urinary tract infections and strep throat.

Augmentin can be tough on your body

If you take either augmentin or amoxicillin, it's important to consider the side effects of both and note that augmentin has fewer side effects than augmentin and can be tolerated in higher doses. Both can cause abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea. In addition, some mild side effects have been reported in association with augmentin use, including itchiness, dizziness, gas, and anxiety. More serious side effects can range from liver problems to an infection known as Clostridioides difficile, or C. diff. Luckily, according to a 2015 study published in Frontiers in Microbiology, probiotic foods can be a good way to balance out bacteria in the gut, which can be helpful for people taking strong antibiotics.

For women taking antibiotics, there is the risk that the medication may cause yeasts, such as Candida, which occur naturally in the vagina, to grow uncontrolled, resulting in a yeast infection.  Augmentin is one of the antibiotics that can cause Candida to overgrow and lead to infections in both the mouth and the vagina. If you are someone who is susceptible to yeast infections, particularly when taking antibiotics, talk to your doctor before taking augmentin. In addition, you should consult with your doctor to determine what your symptoms are and which antibiotic might be the best to treat them.