Ampicillin for infection
This leaflet is for parents and carers about how to use this medicine in children. Our information may differ from that provided by the manufacturers, because their information usually relates to adults. Read this leaflet carefully. Keep it somewhere safe so that you can read it again.
Your child should not take Ampicillin if they are allergic to penicillin. If your child has ever reacted to a medicine, tell your doctor before giving Ampicillin.
Name of medicine
Brand name: Penbritin, Rimacillin
There is also a form of ampicillin with another medicine flucloxacillin, this is called co-fluampicil. Co-fluampicil is used for infections that are severe or caused by certain types of bacteria. Brands include Flu-Amp.
Why is it important for my child to take Ampicillin?
It is important that your child takes this medicine in the way that your doctor has told you to so that it kills the harmful bacteria and gets rid of the infection.
What is Ampicillin available as?
Capsules: 250 mg, 500 mg
Liquid medicine (suspension): 125 mg or 250 mg in 5 mL; may contain a small amount of sugar
When should I give Ampicillin
Ampicillin is usually given four times a day. This is usually first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, late afternoon and at bedtime. Ideally, these times are at least 4 hours apart (e.g. 8am, midday, 4pm, 8pm).
Give the medicine at about the same time(s) each day so that this becomes part of your child’s daily routine, which will help you to remember.
How much should I give?
Your doctor will work out the amount of Ampicillin (the dose) that is right for your child. The dose will be shown on the medicine label.
It is important that you follow your doctor’s instructions about how much to give.
How should I give Ampicillin?
- This medicine works best when the stomach is empty, so try to give it to your child 30 minutes to an hour before they eat. It is OK for your child to have a glass of water, milk or juice after taking Ampicillin.
- Capsules should be swallowed whole with a glass of water or squash (but not juice). Your child should not chew the capsules.
- Shake the medicine well. Measure out the right amount using an oral syringe or a medicine spoon. You can get these from your pharmacist. Do not use a kitchen teaspoon as it will not give the right amount.
When should the medicine start working?
The medicine will start working straight away and your child should start to get better after taking the medicine for 2 days. It is important that they take the whole course of medicine that has been prescribed. Do not stop early.
What if my child is sick (vomits)?
- If your child is sick less than 30 minutes after having a dose of Ampicillin, give them the same dose again.
- If your child is sick more than 30 minutes after having a dose of Ampicillin, do not give them another dose. Wait until the next normal dose.
If your child is sick again, seek advice from your family doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or hospital. They will decide what to do based on your child’s condition and the specific medicine involved.
What if I forget to give it?
If you miss a dose, wait until the next normal dose. Do not give the missed dose.
What if I give too much?
You are unlikely to cause harm if you give an extra dose of Ampicillin by mistake. If you are concerned that you may have given too much, contact your doctor or local NHS services (details at end of leaflet). Have the medicine or packaging with you if you telephone for advice.
Are there any possible side effects?
We use medicines to make our children better, but sometimes they have other effects that we don’t want (side effects).
Side effects you must do something about
If your child is short of breath or is wheezing, or their face, lips or tongue start to swell, or they develop a rash, they may be allergic to Ampicillin. Take your child to hospital or phone for an ambulance straight away.
If your child develops a lumpy red rash, tell your doctor, as your child may have glandular fever or another viral infection.
Other side-effects you need to know about
Some children get diarrhoea, stomach pains and may feel sick or be sick (vomit) when they first start taking Ampicillin. See the information on antibiotics below for advice on what to do.
Contact your doctor if your child has diarrhoea that goes on for more than 4 days or if it is severe and watery, or contains blood.
You may see white patches inside your child’s mouth and throat, and girls may get itching or soreness around the vagina. This is caused by a fungal infection called thrush. Contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
There may sometimes be other side effects that are not listed above. If you notice anything unusual and are concerned, contact your doctor. You can report any suspected side effects to a UK safety scheme at www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard
Can other medicines be given at the same time as Ampicillin?
- You can give your child medicines that contain paracetamol or ibuprofen, unless your doctor has told you not to.
- Check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving any other medicines to your child. This includes herbal and complementary medicines.
Is there anything else I need to know about this medicine?
Ampicillin is a type of antibiotic called penicillin. Your child should not have Ampicillin if they are allergic to any penicillin antibiotic. If your child has ever had an allergic reaction or other reaction to any medicine, tell your doctor before giving Ampicillin.
General advice about medicines
If you think someone else may have taken the medicine by accident, contact your doctor straight away.
General advice about antibiotics
- It is vital that your child completes the course of antibiotic. This means that they must take the medicine for the number of days that the doctor has told you, or until all the tablets or capsules have been taken.
- Your child will probably start to feel better soon after starting to take the antibiotic. However, it takes a few days for the antibiotic to kill all the bacteria.
- If you stop giving the antibiotic too soon, the bacteria that are left will start to multiply again, and may cause another infection.
- There is also a risk that these bacteria will be ‘resistant’ to the first antibiotic. This means that it might not work next time, and your child might need a different antibiotic, which might not work as well or cause more side effects.
- Children are sometimes sick (vomit) or get diarrhoea when taking antibiotics. Encourage them to drink water to replace the fluid they have lost. You can also buy oral rehydration fluid from your pharmacist.
- Do not give your child any medicine to stop the diarrhoea unless your doctor has told you to.
- Try to give the antibiotic at about the same time(s) each day, to help you remember, and to make sure that there is the right amount of medicine in your child’s body to kill the bacteria.
- Only give this medicine to your child for their current infection.
- Never save medicine for future illnesses. Give old or unused antibiotics to your pharmacist to dispose of.
- Only give the antibiotic to the child it was prescribed for. Never give it to anyone else, even if their condition appears to be the same, as it could do harm.
- Antibiotics only kill bacteria; they do not kill viruses. This means that they do not work against colds, sore throats, flu or other infections that are caused by viruses. Your doctor will not prescribe antibiotics for these illnesses.
If you think someone else may have taken the medicine by accident, contact your doctor for advice.
Where should I keep this medicine?
- Keep the medicine in a cupboard, away from heat and direct sunlight.
- It does not need to be kept in the fridge.
- Make sure that children cannot see or reach the medicine.
- Keep the medicine in the container it came in.
Who to contact for more information?
Your child’s doctor, pharmacist or nurse will be able to give you more information about Ampicillin and about other medicines used to treat infections.
Version . © NPPG, RCPCH and WellChild, all rights reserved. Review by May 2017.
The primary source for the information in this leaflet is the British National Formulary for Children. For details on any other sources used for this leaflet, please contact us through our website, www.medicinesforchildren.org.uk.
We take great care to make sure that the information in this leaflet is correct and up-to-date. However, medicines can be used in different ways for different patients. It is important that you ask the advice of your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure about something. This leaflet is about the use of these medicines in the UK, and may not apply to other countries. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), the Neonatal and Paediatric Pharmacists Group (NPPG), WellChild and the contributors and editors cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of information, omissions of information, or any actions that may be taken as a consequence of reading this leaflet.