Most people who believe they are allergic to penicillin are mistakingly avoiding the antibiotic, according to recent data from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
Two studies unveiled at the Nov. 7 meeting of the ACAAI in Atlanta showed many Americans have been told incorrectly they are allergic to penicillin. As a result, these people often are given alternatives to prevent infection, an ACAAI news release stated. But those alternatives sometimes can be more toxic, more expensive and not as effective, the news release said.
One study showed 94% of 384 people who thought they were allergic to penicillin tested negative for such an allergy, according to the ACAAI.
A large number of people in our study who had a history of penicillin allergy were actually not allergic, lead study author Thanai Pongdee, MD, said in the news release. They may have had an unfavorable response to penicillin at some point in the past, such as hives or swelling, but they did not demonstrate any evidence of penicillin allergy at the current time. With that in mind, their doctors prescribed different medications prior to surgery.
A second ACAAI study focused on 38 people who thought they were allergic to penicillin and were given penicillin skin tests to reduce the use of pricy antibiotics. All tested negative for penicillin allergies. The new information allowed 29 of the participants to have their medications changed and reduce their prescription costs, according to the ACAAI.
When you are told you have an allergy to something, its important to be seen and tested by an allergist, who has the specialized training needed for accurate diagnosis and treatment, allergist James Sublett, ACAAI president-elect, said in the news release. If youre truly allergic to a medication, your allergist will counsel you on an appropriate substitute.
Several types of penicillins exist, according to the Mayo Clinic, and are used to treat various bacterial infections by killing bacteria and preventing its growth. Although not part of the product labeling, other uses for penicillin include chlamydia infections in pregnant women, gas gangrene, peptic ulcer disease, leptospirosis, Lyme disease and typhoid fever.
For more information, visit http://acaai.org/news/youmightbeallergictopenicillinthenagainyoumightnot.