What Is Amoxicillin and Clavulanate Potassium Used For?
Amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium (as the name implies) 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 the antibiotic (clavulanate) is known as a beta-lactamase inhibitor. It 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 amoxicillin. Essentially, clavulanate "augments" the activity of amoxicillin.
Amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium is approved for use in children, including very young infants. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about using the drug in children. The medication is available in liquid form and in chewable tablets. The regular tablets are often too large for many children to swallow.
On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium for treating something other than the conditions discussed in this article. The medication is frequently used to treat many other types of infections, particularly if they are caused by bacteria that are susceptible to it. Also, using the drug to prevent (instead of treat) any type of infection is considered to be an off-label amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium use.