Ampicillin is a prescription broad-spectrum antibiotic (beta-lactam antibiotic) from the class of penicillins and is used to fight bacterial infections against which classic penicillins are not effective. Today, the successor drug, the so-called amoxicillin, is used more frequently, but the two drugs hardly differ in their mode of action. Ampicillin, like amoxicillin, is therefore used for bacterial infections of the ear (inflammation of the middle ear, otitis media), nose (rhinositis), maxillary and frontal sinuses (sinusitis) and upper and lower respiratory tract (pharyngitis, laryngitis, bronchitis).
Ampicillin is also used to treat bacterial infections of the skin, gall bladder (cholecystitis) and as part of a multi-therapy approach to Helicobacter pylori infections of the stomach. Because of its good urinary and cerebrospinal fluid flow, Ampicillin can also be used to treat infections in the urogenital area (e.g. cystitis) and inflammation of the meninges (meningitis). In addition to the treatment of newly occurring bacterial infections, Ampicillin is also used for the prevention (prophylaxis) of bacterial infections, e.g. to protect against heart valve inflammation (endocarditis) in patients undergoing surgery.
Ampicillin is also used to prevent bacterial infections in bite wounds, for example from dogs. Ampicillin is not effective for all bacterial infections and especially not for viral infections, so it is particularly important not to take tablets that remain on their own when an infection is suspected, but always to consult the doctor in charge before taking them. Since some pathogens have become resistant to Ampicillin, which means that Ampicillin is no longer effective against these pathogens, Ampicillin must often be combined with other antibiotics in order to tell a good story.
Since Ampicillin is stable against gastric acid, it is usually taken orally as a tablet, but can also be given as a juice or via an infusion. The general dose is 250 – 500 mg every eight hours for 7 – 14 days or 500 – 800 mg twice daily. In general, Ampicillin can be taken in different doses over a varying period of time, depending on the severity of the existing infections.
Before taking Ampicillin, it is important to inform the treating physician about any existing Ampicillin or penicillin allergies as well as about any other medication taken at the same time in order to avoid interactions and allergic reactions. In addition, the attending physician should be informed in case of known kidney disease, as Ampicillin is almost exclusively excreted via the kidney. If phenylketonuria is known as well as medication with blood thinners, alternatives or a specially adapted treatment plan should be discussed in advance with the treating physician.
When taking Ampicillin, it is important to take it at the same times every day and to spread the times of taking it as far as possible throughout the day so that a constantly high level of the drug in the body can be ensured. Only in this way can bacterial infections be adequately combated. In addition, the consumption of alcoholic beverages should be avoided during treatment with Ampicillin.
If a dose is missed, it should be taken immediately, unless it is close to the next dose. In this case, the forgotten dose is not taken and you return to your normal medication schedule. Under no circumstances should you take two doses at once if you forget to take a dose.
It is also important that Ampicillin is taken for the same length of time as prescribed by your doctor. Especially patients who have the feeling that they are no longer ill tend to stop taking the medication on their own and can thus suffer a relapse. If there are problems with taking tablets, the tablet can also be crushed and mixed into food or drink.
For patients with extensive swallowing difficulties, a juice can also be administered. While taking Ampicillin, it is important to tell other doctors, for example the dentist, about your current intake of the medicine. In addition, the attending physician must be informed about an existing pregnancy, current breastfeeding of an infant or an existing desire to have children, in order to adequately advise the patient about the advantages and disadvantages of taking Ampicillin under these circumstances.
Compared to other penicillins such as amoxicillin, Ampicillin causes more side effects when taken orally. This is mainly due to the fact that Ampicillin is poorly absorbed in the intestine, remains in it and can therefore weaken and damage the natural intestinal bacteria, the intestinal flora. In addition, in rare cases, an inflammation of the large intestine (pseudomembranous colitis) may occur, but this disappears after the drug is discontinued.
In addition to this irritation of the bowel, a rash, known as ampicillin exanthema, may occur a few days after the first dose. Despite the rash, however, one should not refrain from giving Ampicillin or other penicillins in the future, as the rash usually subsides again without further side effects. In general, no side effects are often observed with Ampicillin treatment, just as with amoxicillin treatment.
Nevertheless, abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting may occasionally occur. It is recommended that you eat many small meals, maintain good oral hygiene and chew sugar-free gum. If the discomfort occurs especially when taking the tablet, the tablet can be mixed with the food.
In addition to vomiting, diarrhoea (diarrhoea) can also occur. This can be controlled by eating yoghurt or other probiotic foods. In women, a fungal infection of the vagina can occur, which should be reported to the treating doctor or gynaecologist if itching or discharge occurs.
In addition to the side effects already listed, there may also be side effects that require immediate contact with the treating doctor. Due to an unknown allergy to Ampicillin or penicillins in general, an allergic reaction to taking Ampicillin may occur. In case of an allergic reaction a doctor should be consulted immediately.
Strong swelling, redness and itching can occur. In addition, in a few cases, severe shortness of breath and fever may occur, which can be fatal due to anaphylactic shock and should therefore be referred to the emergency room immediately. If the vomiting or diarrhoea is particularly severe or persists even after discontinuing ampicillin, it is recommended that a doctor be consulted here as well.
In the case of new bruises (haematomas) or bleeding without any apparent external cause, a doctor should also be consulted immediately. In addition to the side effects already mentioned, a doctor should be consulted immediately if the following symptoms occur: Mental changes, insomnia, confusion, anxiety, increased sensitivity to light and sound and clouding of consciousness. As a rule, however, penicillins are non-toxic to humans and can therefore normally be taken during pregnancy.
However, due to a lack of studies, it is always necessary to consult with the doctor in charge to determine whether antibiotic therapy is really necessary. When prescribing Ampicillin, it is important to inform the attending physician about all current medications. This may lead to side effects with the following groups of drugs: Blood thinners (anticoagulants), allopurinol (for the treatment of gout), the pill, other antibiotics, chemotherapeutic agents for cancer treatment (methothrexate) and the typhoid vaccination.