Amoxicillin-Potassium Clavulanate (generic Augmentin): Uses, Side Effects, Dosages, Contra-indications, Warnings, Interactions & More

By Sarah Malka, MD
Medically reviewed
July 2, 2021

When someone has a bacterial infection, doctors often prescribe antibiotics. While many options exist, a common antibiotic is amoxicillin-potassium clavulanate, the generic form of the prescription drug Augmentin. 

Amoxicillin works by preventing bacteria from growing, while potassium clavulanate (also called clavulanic acid) stops bacteria from destroying the amoxicillin.

Combined, they can treat bacterial infections in the body. 

Amoxicillin-potassium clavulanate is generally safe and effective. However, it can cause side effects and interaction with other drugs, plus some people are allergic to amoxicillin, which is a penicillin-type drug.

Your doctor can work with you to determine whether amoxicillin-potassium clavulanate is the best solution for your infection and inform you about possible side effects and risks.

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What Is Amoxicillin-Potassium Clavulanate? 

Amoxicillin-potassium clavulanate, the generic version of Augmentin, is a penicillin-type antibiotic drug doctors prescribe to treat various bacterial infections. 

The amoxicillin stops the growth of the bacteria causing the infection. The potassium clavulanate, also known as clavulanic acid, is a type of beta-lactamase inhibitor.

It prevents bacteria from destroying amoxicillin. Together, amoxicillin-potassium clavulanate can effectively treat respiratory tract infections, bacterial sinus infections, bite wounds, skin infections, and more. 

It’s important to keep in mind that antibiotics are meant to treat bacterial infections. They won’t work for the common cold, influenza, or other viral infections.

Plus, if someone takes an antibiotic too often or when it’s not needed, it may not work to treat a future bacterial infection. This increases the person’s susceptibility for serious illness, so always follow your doctor’s directions. 

What Is Amoxicillin-Potassium Clavulanate Used For? 

Amoxicillin-potassium clavulanate––also called amoxicillin/clavulanic acid––is an alternative to the more expensive brand-name drug Augmentin.

Because antibiotics can create resistance when used unnecessarily, a doctor will only prescribe this when someone has a bacterial infection. You may need a lab test, such as a blood sample, to confirm you have a bacterial infection.

If a lab test isn’t available, a doctor will decide to prescribe an antibiotic based on a person’s symptoms and the likelihood of a bacterial infection. 

What conditions can it treat? 

Common bacterial infections treated by amoxicillin-potassium clavulanate include:

  • Lower respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis
  • Aspiration pneumonia
  • Otitis media, or ear infections
  • H. influenzae (including HIB)
  • Sinusitis, or sinus infections
  • Skin infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Pyelonephritis, a type of urinary tract infection that starts in the urethra or bladder and travels to the kidney
  • Tooth infections or abscesses

If you think you may have one of these infections, talk to your medical provider or a K doctor, who can help determine whether amoxicillin-clavulanate potassium could help.

Can You Get Amoxicillin-Potassium Clavulanate Online? 

As with many other drugs, it’s possible to get amoxicillin-potassium clavulanate online. However, you need a prescription from a medical provider. 

If you think you need an antibiotic, talk with your medical provider or a K doctor.

If the provider prescribes amoxicillin-potassium clavulanate, you can get the prescription from your pharmacy, or you can order it from an online pharmacy.

Just make sure any online pharmacy is licensed and requires prescriptions from medical providers. 

What Are Common Dosages of Amoxicillin-Potassium Clavulanate? 

Your doctor will determine the appropriate dose of amoxicillin-potassium clavulanate based on factors such as your condition and weight. The amount of medicine you take also depends on the medication’s strength. 

Common doses of amoxicillin-potassium clavulanate vary by format and include:

Tablets:

  • Adults, teenagers, and children weighing 88 pounds or more: 250-500 milligrams (mg) every 8 hours or 500-875 mg every 12 hours.
  • Children weighing less than 88 pounds: Talk to a doctor. 

Chewable tablets and suspensions:

  • Adults weighing 88 pounds or more: 250-500 mg tablet or suspension every 8 hours or 500-875 mg every 12 hours.
  • Children three months or older who weigh less than 88 pounds (40 kilograms): Dose is based on weight and determined by a doctor. Most often, 20-40 mg tablet or suspension per kilogram of body weight, divided and given every 8 hours or 25-45 mg per kilogram of body weight, divided and given every 12 hours is recommended.
  • Children younger than three months of age: Dose is based on weight and determined by a doctor. Usually 30 mg tablet or suspension per kilogram of body weight per day, divided and given every 12 hours is recommended.

Extended-release tablets:

  • Adults: 2000 mg tablet every 12 hours.
  • Children: Talk to a doctor.

Side Effects of Amoxicillin-Potassium Clavulanate

Side effects of amoxicillin-potassium clavulanate vary from person to person. Common side effects include: 

Taking your medication with food may prevent gastrointestinal disturbances. 

Some people may experience more serious side effects when taking amoxicillin-clavulanate potassium, such as: 

  • Fever
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Watery or bloody diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Jaundice (yellow skin or eyes)
  • Easy bruising
  • Easy bleeding
  • Sore throat
  • Swelling of the face or tongue
  • Skin pain that’s followed by a purplish-red rash on the face or upper body or accompanied by peeling or blisters 

If you experience any of the above, talk to your doctor or seek medical care immediately. 

How to Take Amoxicillin-Potassium Clavulanate

It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions when taking amoxicillin-potassium clavulanate. 

Commonly, the prescription comes in pill form for adults. Take the tablet orally every 12 hours (twice a day) with a meal or snack.

Swallow the tablet entirely. Don’t crush it or chew it, and don’t split it unless recommended by your medical provider.

For kids, a doctor may prescribe an oral suspension. Shake the liquid first, then use a dosing spoon or dropper to measure out the appropriate amount. 

It’s best to take antibiotics at evenly spaced increments. For example, if you take it at 7 a.m. with breakfast, take the next dose at 7 p.m. with dinner. 

If for some reason you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible when you remember. But if it’s almost time for your next dose, don’t double up. Skip the missed dose and return to your routine.

Avoid taking amoxicillin-potassium clavulanate with high-fat food. Fat can decrease the absorption of the drug, making it less effective in treating the bacterial infection.

Even if your symptoms go away or you’re experiencing unwanted side effects, take your prescription per instructions until the full dose is finished.

If you stop the medication too soon, the bacteria could regrow, causing the infection to return.

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Contraindications 

Amoxicillin-clavulanate potassium is FDA-approved for pediatric, adult, and geriatric use. But like any medication, it can negatively interact with other drugs, so make sure to tell your medical provider if you’re taking any of the following medications before using amoxicillin.

Your doctor may adjust your dosing or suggest a different medication altogether. 

  • Chlortetracycline
  • Demeclocycline
  • Doxycycline
  • Lymecycline
  • Meclocycline
  • Methacycline
  • Methotrexate
  • Minocycline
  • Mycophenolate Mofetil
  • Oxytetracycline
  • Rolitetracycline
  • Sarecycline
  • Sulfasalazine
  • Tetracycline
  • Venlafaxine
  • Warfarin

Amoxicillin-clavulanate potassium can also cause problems for people with certain medical conditions and illnesses. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding or have any of the following conditions:

  • Hepatitis or liver disease
  • Kidney disease or other renal complications, dialysis treatment
  • Mononucleosis (mono)
  • Phenylketonuria 

Lastly, since amoxicillin can impact glucose test results, discuss your prescription with your doctor if you need to get tested. 

Warnings

Occasionally people experience serious allergic reactions and adverse effects when they take antibacterial drugs like amoxicillin-clavulanate potassium.

If you experience any of the following symptoms after taking your prescription, call 911 or go to the hospital immediately: 

Amoxicillin-clavulanate potassium can also result in inflammation of the colon called clostridium difficile. C.diff may occur during drug treatment or up to months after you stop treatment.

Talk to your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms: 

  • Severe or persistent diarrhea 
  • Severe stomach pain or cramping
  • Bloody or mucousy stool

Lastly, using antibacterial drugs for a long period or repeatedly can result in yeast infections or oral thrush.

Talk to your provider or a K doctor if you experience white patches in your mouth or changes in vaginal discharge.

How K Health can help

K Health provides a simple, accessible option for prescription treatment. Chat with a doctor on your phone to determine whether you need a prescription. Your doctor will then prescribe you medication, which can be picked up at a local pharmacy or shipped discreetly directly to you. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is amoxicillin-clavulanate potassium used for?
Amoxicillin-clavulanate potassium is used to treat bacterial infections. It works by stopping the growth of bacteria that make a person sick.
How long is amoxicillin-clavulanate potassium good for?
Amoxicillin typically has a shelf life of around two years, assuming it’s stored at an appropriate room temperature as recommended on the product instructions. Amoxicillin suspension, however, has a far shorter shelf life, expiring about a week to 10 days after preparation. Make sure to take the first dose of your antibacterial prescription immediately after it’s prescribed by a doctor and finish the full course of treatment, even if you start to feel better.
How long before amoxicillin-clavulanate potassium works?
Antibiotics, including amoxicillin-clavulanate, start to work when you begin taking them. But you may not start to feel better for another 24 hours or more. Even if you do begin to feel better, complete the full prescription.
Is amox clav a strong antibiotic?
Your doctor will determine whether amoxicillin-clavulanate potassium is the appropriate drug for your infection, including determining the right dose for your symptoms and weight. If amoxicillin isn't the drug for you, your healthcare provider can suggest another antibacterial drug.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Sarah Malka, MD

Dr. Sarah Malka is a board certified emergency medicine physician with K Health. She completed her residency at Harvard Medical School.