Around 10% of Americans have a documented penicillin allergy. You may be one of those, but you should have allergy testing to be sure. People that have been told they have a penicillin allergy often do not actually have an allergy.
What Is Penicillin?
Penicillin is a group of drugs known as beta-lactam antibiotics. In the beta-lactam antibiotics, penicillin and cephalosporins are the most commonly used. Penicillins used include amoxicillin and Augmentin. These penicillins are commonly used for strep throat, sinus infections, dental infections, and ear infections.
True Penicillin Allergies
A true penicillin allergy will cause a wide variety of symptoms. Mild symptoms include itching, a rash, swelling, and more. Severe symptoms include anaphylaxis, trouble breathing, low blood pressure, and swelling of the throat. If a person has a reaction to a penicillin drug, they should be thoroughly evaluated. A penicillin allergy will not persist for life, and the chances are that the person can take it again without any issues.
Some people confuse the side effects of penicillin for allergies. Side effects like nausea, vomiting, and fatigue are not signs of an allergic reaction and are a normal part of taking the drug, and it is not a true penicillin allergy.
Why Finding Out Whether Or Not You Have A True Allergy Is Important
If you have an allergy or think you have an allergy to penicillin, it is on your medical chart. You will not be given any kind of antibiotic in the beta-lactam line. The antibiotic that you are given when you need one will be a broad spectrum. While broad-spectrum antibiotics work fine, they have an increased risk of side effects and the risk of developing C. diff. or MRSA. It is imperative that you do allergy testing to ensure that you cannot have beta-lactam antibiotics.
Penicillin Allergy Testing
To make sure that you have a penicillin allergy, you will need to have an allergy test. This is done via a skin test. Your allergist will place a small amount of the penicillin into the skin. The allergist will then watch for how you react to it. If you are allergic, your skin will become red, swelling, and itchy. If you do not have any reaction, your allergist can give you the amoxicillin challenge. This is where you are given amoxicillin, and your allergist watches you for any kind of reaction for one hour. If you do not have any issues, you do not have a penicillin allergy.
If you are curious as to whether or not you are allergic to penicillin, you should make an appointment with your allergist. It is a good idea to get tested if you are planning to have any surgeries where you might need an antibiotic. If you are in need of an allergist and allergy testing, please call Alabama ENT Specialists today. They will be able to determine whether or not you are truly allergic to penicillin.