Are You Really Allergic to Penicillin?

A recent study at Royal Perth Hospital (RPH) has found that 90% of people believe they are allergic to penicillins, whereas they are not.

Penicillin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic which is highly effective against infections.

According to this study, 80% of people who have penicillin allergies recover from it after 10 years.

According to experts, people often mistake penicillin allergies for their childhood incidents. For example, sometimes people mistake a symptom (from an illness) or a side effect of penicillin for an allergic reaction.

Like any other medicine (or antibiotic), even penicillin can show some side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache or thrush. But these are common side effects and are not allergic reactions.

The experts also focused on the interesting fact that penicillin allergies are not life-long. Like food allergies, people can overcome their allergies to penicillin antibiotics. According to them, 80% of people who were allergic to penicillin recovered from their allergy after about 10 years.

Wide use of broad-spectrum antibiotics has led to a greater chance of antibiotic resistance and the potential to create superbugs (strains of bacteria that are resistant to most antibiotics).

Also, the broad spectrum antibiotics kill a wide range of bacteria which sounds great, but when we say "a broad range", we also include the good bacteria that are responsible for our healthy gut. These antibiotics disturb the gut flora.

What can be done?

According to experts, it is always good to take a detailed history of the patient, which should include

  • A detailed history of the antibiotic to which they reacted.
  • The reaction that occurred after taking that antibiotic.
  • Check the medical records of the patient.



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