5 Facts About Penicillin Allergies

What was once simply a mold that developed on a staphylococcus culture plate became one of the world’s biggest accidents back in 1928 and became the first naturally occurring antibiotic drug discovered and used therapeutically.

Nowadays, the drug, which is named penicillin, is easily one of the most prescribed drugs, letting physicians treat conditions like meningitis, pneumonia, syphilis, and gonorrhea -- all of which were life-threatening before the antibiotic's discovery.

Unfortunately, like a lot of other drugs, penicillin may also cause some adverse effects, especially those who have allergies. However, because the drug triggers different reactions in the human body, some might not be allergies at all but just intolerances.

Thankfully, a recently published study from Ontario’s McMaster University reveals some facts about penicillin allergy that some people might not be aware of. Published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the facts include:

  1. Penicillin allergy can go away with time – even if you have an allergy with the antibiotic, that may not always be the case after a few years. In fact, penicillin allergy weakens over time and those who have had it 10 years ago are now unlikely to still have it.
  2. A medical evaluation is needed to assess the risks of penicillin allergy – Patients who experience one of penicillin’s side effects such as nausea shouldn’t immediately jump to the conclusion that they’re allergic to it. Rather, a medical evaluation is still needed to find out if the patient indeed has penicillin allergy.
  3. While penicillin allergy is reported frequently, most patients can tolerate the effects – In the 10 percent of patients that have penicillin allergy, around 90 percent of these are not actually suffering from an allergy. That’s because a lot of intolerances are mislabeled as an allergy even though it is not.
  4. Penicillin allergy’s label is negative for patients and health care systems – The label of penicillin allergy is usually associated with the use of other antibiotics that are usually less effective than actual penicillin. Most times, these antibiotics are also more expensive.
  5. While allergy referral and testing is safe, it’s mostly underused – These allergy tests are done by trained professionals and they are accurate 100 percent of the time. And so, those who are concerned are more than welcome to get expert advice from a doctor.