Date :Saturday, November 8th, 2014 | Time : 10:21 |ID: 14965 | Print

Allergic to penicillin? 94 percent who think they’re allergic are actually not

SHAFAQNA –  Two studies presented Friday at the annual American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology meeting are showing that majority of those thought to be allergic to penicillin are in fact not.

According to Thanai Pongdee, lead author for one of the studies and a member of the ACAAI, a lot of people who participated in their study may have experienced a bad response to penicillin in the past but majority showed no allergic reactions to the antibiotic. Their research involved 384 participants, 94 percent of which tested negative for penicillin allergies.

For the other study, 38 people were involved, all told they have penicillin allergies. The purpose of the allergy tests they were subjected to was to determine if antibiotic alternatives can be used, helping bring down costs of medication. All 38 tested negative for penicillin allergies, allowing 29 to change their antibiotic prescriptions.

“When you are told you have an allergy to something, it’s important to be seen and tested by an allergist, who has the specialized training needed for accurate diagnosis and treatment. If you’re truly allergic to a medication, your allergist will counsel you on an appropriate substitute,” said ACAAI president-elect James Sublett, an allergist.

“Penicillin skin testing is the most reliable method for evaluating immediate hypersensitivity reaction to penicillin. When negative — which is most of the time — the patient can then most likely tolerate penicillin,” explained Dr. Luz Fonacier, Winthrop-University Hospital’s rheumatology, allergy and immunolpgy division allergy head.

Dr. Punita Ponda, Cohen Children’s Hospital of New York’s allergy and immunology assistant chief, said that she agrees that, historically, there is an over-representation of penicillin allergies, leading people to avoid the antibiotic. She adds that this impacts health care when surgeries are planned. Since antibiotics are likely to be used before, during, and after a surgical procedure, having a penicillin allergy can lead to alternatives being prescribed that may not only be more expensive but may also have adverse side effects.

Keep in mind that all kinds of drugs may have side effects. However, only around 5 to 10 percent of severe reactions are actually allergic. But whether a symptom is a side effect or an allergic reaction, it can range in severity, going anywhere between mild to life-threatening. Any side effect that raises concern must checked by a doctor to prevent serious complications. Accurate information about medical histories will also help doctors in prescribing the right medicines for their patients.

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