What is Augmentin Used For?

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The human body naturally contains trillions of bacteria that perform functions in our body that are good for us. An example of this is the bacteria in our colon that helps us stay healthy by metabolizing vitamins and synthesizing vitamin K.

These functions are made possible by the estimated 500-1000 bacterial species that live in the colon. But, when there is an overgrowth of these bacterial species, or if harmful bacteria that do not normally reside in our bodies colonize somewhere inside our body, we can become sick.

When this happens, antibiotics are taken to treat infections caused by bacteria.

Antibiotics prevent the growth of bacteria through various mechanisms depending on the class of antibiotics, and this stops the spread of the infection inside the body. 

The penicillins are one of the most commonly known antibiotics and there are many approved antibiotics within the penicillin family that are very effective in clearing bacterial infections.

The penicillins belong to the beta-lactam class of antibiotics, based on their chemical structure.

Among this class, Augmentin is a popular choice that is prescribed to treat bacterial infections.

So, what is Augmentin? Augmentin is a combination of amoxicillin and clavulanic acid or potassium clavulanate. The amoxicillin component of Augmentin is the beta-lactam antibiotic, while clavulanic acid is a potent inhibitor of beta-lactamases, which are substances produced by the bacteria to prevent the beta-lactam antibiotics from working to halt their growth. 

Importantly, like other antibiotics, Augmentin is not effective against viral infections. These include the seasonal flu or the common cold that is caused by different kinds of viruses.

Augmentin is only effective against infections that are caused by bacteria, so taking it for a viral infection will not do anything to help you feel better.

Therefore, Augmentin should only be taken with a prescription from your doctor after examination to decide whether the infection is of bacterial origin.

Often, a swab might be taken that is cultured in a lab test to verify the diagnosis as bacterial. Identifying the bacterial species that is the cause of the infection is also helpful in prescribing the relevant antibiotic for treatment

Here is a list of the most common indications that Augmentin is prescribed for.

Sinus infections

Augmentin is a first-choice antibiotic for the treatment of acute sinus infections (sinusitis) that are caused by bacteria. Sinus infections occur due to blockage of the nasal cavities by mucus that can be caused by allergies, or a viral or bacterial infection. 

Symptoms of a sinus infection include pain around the eyes, cheeks or forehead, nasal congestion, post-nasal drainage that can be thick, headache, sore throat and hoarse voice.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, between 60-70% of people with a sinus infections recover without taking antibacterial drugs.

Alternative treatment methods such as nasal sprays, or nasal irrigation may help in resolving the infection without antibiotics.

However, Augmentin is prescribed to people who do not get better after trying these treatment methods and to individuals that have other pre-existing conditions that interfere with their ability to fight infections. 

Upper Respiratory tract infections

Most upper respiratory tract infections are caused by viral infections that can cause the common cold, and these may resolve on their own without the need for prescription drugs.

They can also be caused by bacterial infections and can result in bronchitis (airways that lead to the lungs), laryngitis (infection of the throat), pharyngitis (inflammation of the back of the throat, or sore throat) and recurrent streptococcal tonsillitis.

Augmentin may be prescribed as a very effective agent in treating any of these community-acquired upper respiratory infections. The dosage is usually adjusted by the amoxicillin component. 

Urinary tract infections (UTI)

A urinary tract infection can occur in any part of the urinary tract that includes the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.

Most UTIs are caused by bacterial growth and require antibiotics for treatment.

Lower tract UTIs that affect the kidneys and urethra include symptoms such as burning with urination, bloody or cloudy urine, increased urgency to urinate, and pelvic or rectal pain.

Upper UTIs that affect the kidneys include symptoms such as pain or tenderness in the sides and upper back, fever, chills and nausea.

Upper UTIs can become potentially life threatening if bacteria that causes the infection moves from the kidneys into the bloodstream.

Augmentin is approved by the FDA for the treatment of UTIs. The first choice antibiotics that are prescribed for UTIs are trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim) antibiotics.

When these antibiotics cannot be taken by the patient, Augmentin is prescribed instead. The typical dosage of Augmentin for a moderate UTI is 500mg every 12 hours, or 250mg every 8 hours for 3 to 7 days.

Skin infections

Augmentin is used to treat skin and soft tissue infections that are caused by certain bacterial species that include Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, or Klebsiella species.

It is used to treat skin conditions that cause impetigo or cellulitis. Impetigo is a highly contagious skin infection that is caused by gram-positive bacteria that affects infants and children, causing red sores around the nose and mouth that eventually burst and form yellow-brown crusts.

Cellulitis is a skin infection that occurs when bacteria like Streptococcus or Staphylococcus enter the skin through a wound and causes an infection that makes the skin appear red, swollen and hot or tender to touch.

Augmentin is also used to treat skin infections that are caused by animal or human bites. 

Ear infections

Ear infections, also known as otitis media, occur when the middle ear becomes filled with mucus. This can be caused by a virus or bacterial infection.

When the infection is due to bacteria, antibacterial drugs are needed to resolve the infection. Middle ear infections are most common in children and the first antibiotic that is usually prescribed to treat it is amoxicillin.

Augmentin is prescribed to treat otitis media in cases when the ear infection is not successfully treated by amoxicillin, or if the patient has recently had a course of amoxicillin.

Augmentin is FDA-approved for the treatment of ear infections and can typically clear bacterial infections that are not susceptible to amoxicillin treatment alone. 

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a potentially life-threatening condition that causes fever, cough, high sputum production, chest pain, and dyspnea.

Several bacterial species can cause pneumonia and some of the major species are Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Moraxella catarrhalis, and Mycobacterium pneumoniae.

A combination of antibiotics is usually prescribed to treat pneumonia and the selection of each antibiotic that goes into this combination often depends on the species that causes the infection.

A lab culture can confirm the species that causes pneumonia.

Since Augmentin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic, it is also included in the mix of antibiotics that are given to patients with community-acquired pneumonia (pneumonia not contracted in a hospital setting). In general, the dosage of Augmentin used to treat pneumonia can be very high compared to other conditions.

Augmentin is also chosen to treat pneumonia in patients with other medical conditions like diabetes or heart disease.

Some bacteria that cause pneumonia, like the Pseudomonas species, are naturally resistant to amoxicillin, so in these cases, Augmentin will not be effective and other antibiotics may be prescribed instead. 

How to buy Augmentin

If you develop the symptoms of any of these conditions, consult your doctor first to determine whether the suspected infection is due to a bacterial infection.

Remember that all antibiotics, including Augmentin, are not effective against viral or fungal infections, so taking antibiotics without a valid prescription from your doctor may do you more harm than good.

Make sure you’re aware of potential Augmentin side effects before taking it to avoid any adverse reactions. Mixing antibiotics of any kind with another substance, such as Augmentin and alcohol, can cause some of these adverse effects and be dangerous. 

Augmentin is also available in its generic form as amoxicillin and potassium clavulanate/clavulanic acid. The dosage and length of course that you are prescribed will depend on the type and severity of the infection.

A hard-to-treat or severe infections may require a longer course or a higher dosage.

In all cases, taking the antibiotic course exactly as prescribed and as soon as possible is essential for getting better and preventing further complications from occurring. 

References, Studies and Sources:

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