10 Most Common Antibiotics and the Conditions They Treat

Prescription Drugs

10 Most Common Antibiotics and the Conditions They Treat

Cold & Flu Season.Ear infection.Sinusitis
Jennifer Hadley
By Jennifer Hadley
Feb 03, 2018 - Updated Feb 11, 2021
Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS
Medically Reviewed ByCarina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS
Three commonly prescribed blue and white ampicillin capsules laying on a white surface.

Antibiotics are crucial medications that help to keep our nation healthy. According to the CDC, more than 250 million prescriptions for antibiotics are issued by health care providers each year.

RxSaver offers coupons for common antibiotics, which are used to treat millions of bacterial infections, ranging from sinusitis to urinary tract infections (UTIs) each year. Read on to learn more about the 10 most common antibiotics and the conditions they treat.

Save Up to 80% on Your Prescriptions

What are antibiotics?

Antibiotics are prescription medications that fight infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotics work by slowing the growth of bacteria or killing the bacteria. Antibiotics should be taken exactly as prescribed, and you should never take antibiotics that are not prescribed to you.

What are the 10 most common antibiotics?

Medication RxSaver Lowest Price* For Common Dosage
Amoxicillin $7.19
Azithromycin $8.03
Amoxicillin/Clavulanate $14.15
Clindamycin $13.68
Cephalexin $8.20
Ciprofloxacin $91.72
Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim $7.98
Metronidazole $2.32
Levofloxacin $11.73
Doxycycline $451.82

What bacterial infections do antibiotics treat?

Antibiotics treat bacterial infections that occur throughout the body. Bacterial infections commonly develop in your ears, sinuses, bladder, kidney, and throat.

Ear Infection

Ear infections, particularly infections of the middle ear are often caused by bacteria. Common antibiotics that are prescribed to treat ear infections include amoxicillin, amoxicillin/clavulanate, and azithromycin. Known as acute otitis media, this middle ear infection can be very painful. It develops behind the eardrum, with symptoms developing very rapidly. Symptoms of an ear infection in an adult may include:

  • Ear pain
  • Fluid drainage from the ear
  • Difficulty hearing

Symptoms of an ear infection in babies and children may include some of the following:

  • Pulling or tugging on the ear
  • Fever
  • Fussiness
  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fluid drainage from the ear

Many ear infections will resolve on their own, without the need for antibiotics. However, some may require a common antibiotic medication from your health care provider.

Sinus Infection

A sinus infection, also known as sinusitis, is often caused by bacteria. Common antibiotics used to treat sinus infections include amoxicillin, amoxicillin-clavulanate, and doxycycline.

Bacterial sinus infections may have symptoms similar to the common cold, so you’ll need to see your health care provider if you have cold symptoms that won’t go away. Symptoms of sinus infections include:

  • Runny nose
  • Facial pain, pressure, tenderness
  • Yellow or green mucus
  • Jaw or toothache
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Strep Throat

Strep throat is caused by a bacterial infection. It causes pain and inflammation in the throat, and it is highly contagious. If left untreated, strep throat can lead to complications, such as kidney inflammation.

Common antibiotics used to treat strep throat include amoxicillin, azithromycin, and clindamycin. Symptoms of strep throat include:

  • Sudden fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Sore, red throat with white patches

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

A urinary tract infection is a term for any infection in your urinary system. This includes bladder infections, infections of the ureters, urethra, or kidney infections. UTIs occur when bacteria enter and infect the urinary tract.

Common antibiotics used to treat UTIs include cephalexin and sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim. Symptoms of a urinary tract infection include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Pain during urination
  • Cloudy urine
  • Foul-smelling urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • Back or side pain
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Pain during sex
  • Inability to empty the bladder completely

Antibiotics Do Not Treat Viral Infections

Antibiotics do not treat infections caused by viruses. Examples of viral infections that cannot be treated with antibiotics include:

When do you need antibiotics?

You only need antibiotics when they are prescribed by your health care provider. You will be prescribed the precise dosage and amount you need. It is very important to take antibiotics exactly as prescribed, to avoid developing antibiotic resistance. You should never take antibiotics that weren’t prescribed to you for your current illness.

What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria develop or evolve to be resistant to the medications that are designed to kill them. When germs become resistant to certain medications, it can make bacteria infections increasingly difficult to treat.

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When do you need antibiotics?

You only need antibiotics when they are prescribed by your health care provider. You will be prescribed the precise dosage and amount you need. It is very important to take antibiotics exactly as prescribed, to avoid developing antibiotic resistance. You should never take antibiotics that weren’t prescribed to you for your current illness.

What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria develop or evolve to be resistant to the medications that are designed to kill them. When germs become resistant to certain medications, it can make bacteria infections increasingly difficult to treat.

How to afford antibiotic medication?

Antibiotics are common medications, which help keep them affordable. However, you should always check RxSaver to make sure you’re getting the best price. RxSaver offers free prescription drug coupons for the most common antibiotics and more than 6,000 other medications.

RxSaver can be used in place of your insurance if the coupon price is less than your copay. RxSaver should also be used by individuals without insurance, to save up to 85% on your prescriptions.

Amoxicillin: 500 mg / 30 capsules

Azithromycin: 250 mg / 6 tablets

Amoxicillin/Clavulanate: 875-125 mg / 30 tablets

Clindamycin: 300 mg / 30 capsules

Cephalexin: 500 mg / 30 capsules

Ciprofloxacin: 0.2 % | 14 droperettes

Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim: 800-160mg / 30 tablets

Metronidazole: 500 mg / 14 tablets

Levofloxacin: 500 mg / 30 tablets

Doxycycline: 40 mg / 30 cap ir drs

*Lowest online price at national pharmacy chains Costco, CVS, RiteAid, Walgreens and Walmart as of 2/11/2021. Prices vary by location and pharmacy, see RxSaver.com for actual pricing in your area.

Jennifer Hadley

Jennifer Hadley

Jen Hadley is a freelance writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, who writes extensively about the medical, legal, health care, and consumer products industries. Jen is a regular contributor to RxSaver.

Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS., is a pharmacist who earned her PharmD from St. John’s University in Queens, NY. She maintains an active practice, serving as a Board-Certified Pediatric Pharmacotherapy Specialist at a large metropolitan teaching hospital in New York City. Carina has also published in pharmacy journals and works as a consultant reviewing medical articles for publication.

The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.