Is Augmentin Better Than Amoxicillin?

Choosing the Right Antibiotic for an Infection

Amoxicillin and Augmentin (amoxicillin clavulanate) are similar drugs with important differences.

Both are antibiotics commonly prescribed to treat bacterial infections. Augmentin, however, contains a second active ingredient. This means Augmentin is better for treating some infections, and amoxicillin is better for others. Other infections can be effectively treated with either drug.

Ultimately, the antibiotic a healthcare provider prescribes will depend on the type of illness being treated and the bacteria responsible for it.

This article looks at the key differences between amoxicillin and Augmentin. It also discusses antibiotic resistance and how you can help prevent it.


Amoxicillin is often the first antibiotic prescribed for common bacterial infections. This is particularly true for bacteria that cause illness in children, such as ear, nose, and throat infections, including tonsillitis.

This antibiotic also is the first drug of choice for:

Amoxicillin can kill many of the same bacteria as penicillin, but it is less effective than penicillin against Streptococcus pneumococcus. This is the bacteria commonly associated with meningitis and systemic bacteremia.

The side effects of amoxicillin tend to be relatively mild. This is another reason it's often prescribed for kids. The most common ones include rash, vaginal itching, and a dark or "hairy tongue. Digestive side effects such as nausea and vomiting can occur, but are much more common with Augmentin.

As with penicillin, there is a risk of an allergic reaction to amoxicillin in those predisposed to it. Symptoms include rash, itching, swelling of the face, tongue, and/or throat, trouble breathing, and dizziness. These can be life-threatening.
It's vital a healthcare provider take a medical history before prescribing amoxicillin to determine if a patient has a known history of allergy to antibiotics.


Augmentin is amoxicillin combined with a beta-lactamase inhibitor called clavulanate. Clavulanate blocks the enzymes that contribute to antibiotic resistance.

The addition of a beta-lactamase blocker to amoxicillin allows Augmentin to overcome resistance to harder-to-treat bacteria. This means it can potentially treat more infections. It is for this reason that Augmentin is referred to as a broad-spectrum antibiotic.

Augmentin can treat the same bacteria as amoxicillin, but also is effective against certain harder-to-treat infections, including:

It should be noted there are a few infections for which amoxicillin and Augmentin are prescribed equally:

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The most common side effect of Augmentin is diarrhea. Some people may also experience nausea, vomiting, yeast infections, and rash.

Differences in Antibiotic Resistance

If you have an infection and don't necessarily know which bacteria is causing it, it may seem to make sense to use an antibiotic that would kill the most bugs. However, doing that can cause major problems.

Antibiotics used indiscriminately may destroy "good" bacteria along with "bad," thereby altering the body's natural flora and allowing even worse bacteria to proliferate.

One of the most pressing concerns is that using broad-spectrum antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance. Resistance develops when an antibiotic you are using are unable to fully eradicate a bacteria in your body. This often occurs when you stop treatment before you are supposed to.

When this happens, a few mutated bacteria may survive. Some of these may be naturally resistant to the antibiotic you were taking. Because you didn't "hit the infection hard enough," these survivors now have the opportunity to multiply and become the dominant strain. As such, the next time you develop an infection, the antibiotic will not work anywhere near as well.

If this happens with a broad-spectrum antibiotic like Augmentin, you will be at greater risk of having multiple types of drug resistance. With a "narrow-spectrum" antibiotic like amoxicillin, the consequence may be less severe.

How to avoid antibiotic resistance
Verywell / JR Bee 

How to Avoid Antibiotic Resistance

  • Always take an antibiotic as prescribed.
  • Complete the entire course even if you feel better.
  • Do not save antibiotics for future use.
  • Do not use someone else's antibiotics.
  • Do not take antibiotics for a viral infection.
  • Avoid overuse. Take an antibiotic only if your healthcare provider deems it necessary.


Amoxicillin and augmentin are commonly prescribed antibiotics. Each is good at treating certain kinds of infections. A few infections can be treated with either drug.

Amoxicillin is often prescribed for common infections like those that cause ear, nose, and throat infections in children. Augmentin is usually reserved for harder-to-treat infections, such as those caused by bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.

With any antibiotic, it is important to take your antibiotics as prescribed and finish the complete course even if you feel better.

A Word From Verywell

Whether you're prescribed amoxicillin, Augmentin, or another antibiotic, it's not so much the "strength" of the drug you should be concerned about. It's also about the safety, efficacy, and appropriateness of treatment.

People are sometimes surprised when they are given amoxicillin for a serious infection such as pneumonia. But in many cases that may be all that is needed to resolve the infection.

If you don't believe the antibiotic you're prescribed is "strong enough," speak with your healthcare provider. This is especially true if you have a new healthcare provider or don't see a healthcare provider all that often.

If you've had recurrent infections in the past for which amoxicillin hasn't helped, let the healthcare provider know. The more your healthcare provider knows about your previous antibiotic use, the better choices they can make.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Soukavong M, Kim J, Park K, et al. Signal detection of adverse drug reaction of amoxicillin using the Korea Adverse Event Reporting System Database. J Korean Med Sci. 2016;31(9):1355-61. doi:10.3346/jkms.2016.31.9.1355

  2. National Library of Medicine. Clavulanate potassium.

  3. Thomas VM, Thomas-eapen N. An uncommon side effect of a commonly used antibiotic: amoxicillin-clavulanic acid induced hepatitis. Korean J Fam Med. 2017;38(5):307-310. doi:10.4082/kjfm.2017.38.5.307

  4. Zaman SB, Hussain MA, Nye R, Mehta V, Mamun KT, Hossain N. A review on antibiotic resistance: alarm rells are ringing. Cureus. 2017;9(6):e1403. doi:10.7759/cureus.1403

Additional Reading
  • Amoxil, Moxatag (amoxicillin) dosing, indications, interactions, adverse effects, and more. 

  • Augmentin, Augmentin XR (amoxicillin/clavulanate) dosing, indications, interactions, adverse effects, and more.

By Kristina Duda, RN
Kristina Duda, BSN, RN, CPN, has been working in healthcare since 2002. She specializes in pediatrics and disease and infection prevention.