Due to the frequent prescription of antibiotics in recent decades, bacteria have increasingly developed resistance to the individual active ingredients. Studies show that antibiotics are prescribed in about 60% of colds, although only 5% of these diseases are caused by bacteria. In addition, antibiotics are also used in animal husbandry, which means that humans absorb them indirectly into the body through animal flesh.
In order to be able to continue to guarantee the effectiveness of the classical antibiotics, other drugs have been developed to counteract the resistance mechanisms developed by the bacteria. Clavulanic acid, which inhibits a bacterial enzyme that breaks down various antibiotics, is an example of this. By combining clavulanic acid with penicillins, the different penicillins can thus continue to act against a broad spectrum of bacteria.
A widely used combination is amoxicillin (penicillin) with clavulanic acid. The combination product is available in Germany from various manufacturers under the names Amoxiclav, Amoclav and Augmentan. In Austria the trade names are Xiclav, Augmentin and Clavamox. In Switzerland the products are sold as Aziclav, Augmentin and Co-Amoxicillin.
How do the two active ingredients work?
Amoxicillin belongs to the group of penicillins. Due to their similar effectiveness and structure as cephalosporins, carbapenems and monobactams, penicillins belong to the drug family of β lactam antibiotics. These antibiotics inhibit the cell wall formation of the bacteria.
This means that the bacteria can no longer multiply. At the same time, damage to the cell wall makes the bacteria unstable and they die. One speaks of a bactericidal (bacteria-killing) effect.
In order to protect themselves from the β lactam antibiotics, many bacteria have developed an enzyme over time that splits and inactivates these antibiotics: the bacterial β lactamase. This makes them resistant to a wide range of antibiotics. Clavulanic acid was developed to circumvent this resistance.
Clavulanic acid is one of the so-called betalactamase inhibitors. Through a similar structure as the-lactam antibiotics, the bacterial β-lactamase also binds to clavulanic acid and is inactivated by it. Subsequently, the antibiotics administered in combination (including amoxicillin) can act against the bacteria again.
Bacterial tonsillitis can be treated with amoxicillin. However, a reliable diagnosis of a bacterial infection is urgently required before the drug treatment. Amoxicillin is also used to treat bacterial middle ear and sinusitis.
The combination of amoxicillin and clavulanic acid can also be used for treatment of inflammation of the respiratory tract (upper and lower) and inflammation of the lungs (pneumonia, bronchitis). In addition to its effect in the ear, nose and throat area, amoxicillin is also indicated for infections of the kidneys and the urinary tract. For bite wounds and infections of deep wounds, the combination of amoxicillin and clavulanic acid is the first choice.