Antibiotics Home > More Details on Augmentin's Indications

How Does Augmentin Work?

Augmentin contains two different medications: amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium (also known as clavulanic acid or simply clavulanate). Amoxicillin belongs to a group of medications known as aminopenicillins, which is part of a larger group of medications known as beta-lactam antibiotics (named after the ring-like "lactam" structure of these antibiotics). Amoxicillin works by stopping bacteria from making cell walls, which eventually causes the bacteria to die. However, many bacteria have developed resistance to amoxicillin and similar antibiotics by producing enzymes called beta-lactamases. Beta-lactamases break the beta-lactam ring, making amoxicillin and similar antibiotics ineffective.
 
The other component of Augmentin (clavulanate) is known as a beta-lactamase inhibitor. Clavulanate binds to bacterial beta-lactamase and stops the enzymes from breaking down the amoxicillin molecule. Clavulanate itself has no significant antibacterial activity; it merely helps to prevent amoxicillin from being broken down by bacteria that would otherwise be resistant to it. Essentially, clavulanate "augments" the activity of amoxicillin (hence the name Augmentin).
 

Augmentin Uses in Children

Augmentin is approved for use in children, including very young infants. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about using the drug in children. Augmentin is available in liquid form and in chewable tablets. Regular Augmentin tablets are often too large for many children to swallow.
 

Off-Label Augmentin Uses

On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend Augmentin for something other than the uses discussed in this article. The drug is frequently used to treat many other types of infections, particularly if they are caused by bacteria that are susceptible to Augmentin. Also, using the drug to prevent (instead of treat) any type of infection is considered an off-label Augmentin use.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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