Amoxicillin is an antibiotic used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects.
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What is amoxicillin?
Amoxicillin is an antibiotic used to treat different infections caused by bacteria. Examples of infections amoxicillin may be used for include chest infections, dental infections and infections of the throat, ear and sinus.
It works by killing or stopping the growth of bacteria (bugs) and getting rid of the infection. Amoxicillin belongs to a group of antibiotics called penicillins. Like all antibiotics, it is not effective against infections caused by viruses.
In Aotearoa New Zealand amoxicillin is available as capsules (250 mg and 500mg), liquid and can be given as an injection in the hospital.
- The dose of amoxicillin will be depend on the type of infection.
- The usual dose of amoxicillin capsules in adults is 500 mg or 1000 mg 3 times a day.
- Your doctor will advise you how long to take amoxicillin for (usually 3–7 days).
- For most infections, you should feel better within a few days.
- Always take your amoxicillin exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much to take, how often to take it and any special instructions.
How to take amoxicillin capsules
- Timing of your doses: You can take amoxicillin capsules with or without food. Swallow the capsules with a drink of water. Do not chew them. 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. Ideally these times should be at least 4 hours apart.
- Missed dose: If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember. But, if it is nearly time for your next dose, take the next dose at the right time. Do not take extra doses to make up for a forgotten dose. If you are not sure what to do, ask your healthcare provider.
- Finish the course: Take the whole course of antibiotics for the number of days your doctor has told you to. Do not stop taking it, even if you feel your infection has cleared up. If you stop your treatment early, your infection could come back.
For information on how to give amoxicillin to children, see amoxicillin information for parents and carers.
Things to consider while you are taking amoxicillin
- Amoxicillin does not have direct interactions with alcohol. This means that most people could have the occasional drink while taking it without any serious problems. However, if amoxicillin makes you feel sick (nausea), do not drink alcohol as it will make you feel worse.
- If you are taking the contraceptive pill, you do not usually need to use additional contraception if you're taking amoxicillin. But if the antibiotic or the illness they're treating cause diarrhoea or vomiting, lasting more than 24 hours, absorption of the contraceptive pill may be affected. If this happens, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice about contraception over the following few days.
Possible side effects
Like all medicines, amoxicillin can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.
Tell your healthcare provider if you have had an allergic reaction to a medicine, especially a penicillin antibiotic. True penicillin allergy is rare – fewer than 5 out of 10,000 people are allergic to penicillin.
Most people who think they have a penicillin allergy do not – read more about penicillins and penicillin allergy).
If you develop signs of an allergic reaction such as skin rash, itching, swelling of your lips, face and mouth, or difficulty breathing, stop taking amoxicillin and seek immediate medical attention.
Other side effects
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|For more information on side effects, see the Medsafe consumer information leaflets below.
Did you know that you can report a side effect to a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product.
The following links have more information on amoxicillin.
- Amoxicillin NZ Formulary, NZ
- Antibiotics – choices for common infections BPAC, NZ, 2021
- Recommended regimens for Helicobacter pylori eradication in adults NZ Formulary, NZ
Additional resources for healthcare professionals
When is an allergy to an antibiotic really an allergy? BPAC, NZ, 2015