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How Long Does Amoxicillin Take to Work?

Medically reviewed on April 4, 2024 by Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Amoxicillin is a type of penicillin antibiotic that a healthcare provider prescribes for a variety of bacterial infections as it can start relieving symptoms quickly. [1] This begs the question, how long does amoxicillin take to work?

The medicine starts working to fight harmful bacteria within just a few hours of taking it, and some people observe symptom relief just a few days after starting their course. [2, 3]

However, it’s important to understand that a cessation of symptoms does not necessarily indicate an infection has been fully treated. It’s crucial to complete your prescribed course to treat an infection successfully. Moreover, not everyone experiences the same rate of recovery, and several factors can play a decisive role in how long it takes to recover in full.

What Is Amoxicillin Used For, and How Does It Fight Infection?

If you’re wondering, “How long does it take for amoxicillin to start working,” it can help to first understand how this medicine works to combat infection in the body.

Interestingly, amoxicillin does not work by fighting infection-causing bacteria itself. [3] Rather, it prevents harmful bacteria from building and maintaining their structures (specifically, the walls of their cells). [4] This makes it easier for your immune system to intervene and keep bacteria from propagating in your body, thereby preventing an infection from spreading. [4]

Because of its mechanism of action, amoxicillin has a broad range of clinical applications and is widely prescribed. [4] It’s most commonly used to combat the following [2]:

  • Ear infection
  • Nose infection
  • Throat infection
  • Skin infection
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Lower respiratory system infection

Like other penicillin-type antibiotics, amoxicillin has a very short half-life and is rapidly metabolized in the body. [4] This carries two important implications for those taking it [4]:

  1. You’ll need to take it multiple times per day for it to have full effect
  2. You’ll need to complete your prescribed amoxicillin course to have the highest likelihood of successfully combating an infection—not just infection symptoms

Amoxicillin comes in several forms, like capsules, chewable tablets, and liquids. [1] But, like all other antibiotics (no matter their formula), several outstanding factors play a decisive role in how quickly you can heal from an infection.

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Factors Impacting Recovery Using Amoxicillin

When asking, “How long does it take for amoxicillin to work,” it's crucial to consider the variables like drug interactions that can affect this medication’s efficacy.

Several factors can impact how long (and how well) amoxicillin may take to facilitate infection recovery:

  • Type of infection – Considering amoxicillin for a UTI or other infection? It is important to know that certain types of infections are typically prescribed differing dosages of amoxicillin, as well as medication frequency. [2] For instance, throat, skin, bacterial sinus infection, or urinary tract infection is treated differently than a lower respiratory infection. [2] In general, the latter is prescribed a higher dose of amoxicillin, even if the infection is mild.
  • Severity of infection – It may take amoxicillin longer to work for more severe infections. [2] So, if you have a severe bacterial infection, you may be prescribed a longer or higher-dose course of amoxicillin. [2]
  • Your overall health – People with preexisting health conditions may find they take longer to recover. [2] For instance, people with impaired immune function may experience a slower recovery as their body naturally takes longer to deal with infections (even if amoxicillin makes it easier to target harmful cells).
  • Antibiotic resistance – Antibiotic resistance remains a concern for any type of antibiotic medication you’re prescribed. If the bacteria in your body have developed some immunity to your medication from previous antibiotic use, it may take your immune system longer to fight infection.

Medication Compliance and Amoxicillin Efficacy

One of the single most important variables impacting a recovery timeline is medication compliance. [2] A common question is, "Can you drink alcohol on antibiotics?" It's crucial to know that alcohol may interfere with the effectiveness of antibiotics, including amoxicillin, and may increase the risk of side effects.

Amoxicillin, like any other antibiotic treatment, must be taken as prescribed in order to work properly. [2] Without compliance, you may experience delayed recovery time, and you could be more vulnerable to long-term consequences like:

  • Antibiotic resistance – Failing to comply with your complete antibiotic treatment can make you more likely to develop resistance. This can limit your treatment options if you get a bacterial infection in the future. [4]
  • More severe infections – Compliance failure may also put you at risk of more severe, acute infections. [2] For instance, failure to comply with a course of amoxicillin for strep throat could result in acute rheumatic fever. [2]

With that, it’s very important to complete your full, prescribed amoxicillin course—even if you begin to see a cessation of symptoms before your medicine runs out. [2] Experiencing fewer or no symptoms does not necessarily indicate the absence of infection-causing bacteria.

Plan Your Recovery and Protect Your Health with Everlywell

If you’re unsure how to take amoxicillin capsules or another antibiotic, consider booking a virtual care appointment via an Everlywell telehealthcare professional. Everlywell offers services designed to make at-home care more efficient and cost-effective, from prescription services to physician-reviewed at-home tests that give you a clearer picture of your health profile.

Find out what you can discover about your well-being by exploring the complete range of Everlywell services today.

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Can You Take Probiotics With Antibiotics?

  1. Amoxicillin. MedlinePlus Drug Information. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 13, 2024.
  2. DailyMed - AMOXICILLIN- Amoxicillin Capsule. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 13, 2024.
  3. Drug Listing Page. Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 13, 2024.
  4. Yip, Derek W. “Penicillin.” StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf, 19 May 2022, Medical Citation URL. Accessed March 13, 2024.

Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP is a board-certified Family Physician. Since completing her residency training in 2010, she’s been practicing full-scope family medicine in a rural setting. Dr. Foglesong Stabile’s practice includes caring for patients of all ages for preventative care as well as chronic disease management. She also provides prenatal care and delivers babies. Dr. Foglesong Stabile completed a teaching fellowship in 2020 and teaches the family medicine clerkship for one of her local medical schools. Dr. Foglesong Stabile’s favorite thing about family medicine is the variety of patients she sees in her clinical practice.
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