Dr Tim Ubhi talks about Co-amoxiclav, a commonly used antibiotic preparation in both children and adults.

Co-amoxiclav is in fact a combination of two drugs:
1. Amoxicillin, an antibiotic that belongs to the penicillin family of antibiotics (see our separate section on amoxicillin)
2. Clavulanic acid, which helps the amoxicillin work better by reducing drug resistance.

Co-amoxiclav is particularly effective against bacteria that cause chest, ear, throat, skin and bone infections.

Co-amoxiclav contains amoxicillin which is an antibiotic that belongs to the class of drugs known as penicillins. Therefore, if you are allergic to penicillin, you will be allergic to amoxicillin and hence also allergic to co-amoxiclav.

Co-amoxiclav is very good at treating common bacterial infections but it has no role in the treatment of viral infections such as the common cold.

When should I give Co-amoxiclav?

Co-amoxiclav is usually given three times a day.

How much should I give?

Your doctor will work out the amount of co-amoxiclav that is right for your child. The dose will be shown on the medicine label. This is important as drug doses in children are worked out individually for each child.

How should I give it?

Co-amoxiclav works best on an empty stomach but can be taken can be taken with food if necessary. How you give the medicine depends upon whether your child has been given tablets, capsules or syrup. Capsules should not be chewed.

What if my child vomits?

If your child vomits less than 30 minutes after being given a dose of co-amoxiclav you should repeat the dose. If more than 30 minutes has passed you can assume that the medicine has been absorbed.

Side effects

If your child gets a skin rash or itching, is short of breath, wheezing, or their face, lips or tongue start to swell, they may be allergic to co-amoxiclav. Take your child to hospital or call an ambulance straight away.

Sometimes co-amoxiclav causes skin rashes and rarely it can also be a cause of jaundice. In these situations you should contact your GP.

Other side effects may include stomach upset which usually settles after 24 hours. If it doesn’t you should arrange to see your GP.

Drug interactions

Although generally well tolerated, it is important to let your GP or pharmacist know of any other medications (including herbal) that you might be taking.

The summary of product characteristics can be accessed here.

Being prepared
The Children’s e-Hospital has developed the HOTPOD® Child Health Monitoring Kit to help parents make a full assessment of an unwell child. Take a look at The Children’s e-Hospital Shop.

Authored by: Dr Tim Ubhi

Published: 8th March 2019

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