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Are the facts about penicillin allergies overblown?

Penicillin and the family of antibiotics that fall under its umbrella are some of the most commonly prescribed options available in the United States. Many parents, however, may have had an adverse reaction to one of these medications themselves or may have witnessed it in their children, causing them to believe a serious allergy is present. Did you know an estimated 1 in 10 Americans claims to be allergic to Penicillin? Continuing research suggests that these numbers are not accurate, and that far fewer people suffer from a serious Penicillin allergy than is reported.

As a parent, especially, it’s important to consider that allergies can dimish over time. You may have witnessed your child having an adverse reaction to amoxicillin or another drug from this family, but will be relieved to know that they may outgrow it within a matter of a few years. Penicillin and related drugs are often the most affordable and effective antibiotics available for common medical issues and illnesses, so it’s good to know if your child is truly allergic.

Another cause for the overblown statistics around penicillin allergies include confusing the direct symptoms of the illness as side effects of the medicine. Older citizens may have been misdiagnosed many years ago when technology was less advanced and should consider getting retested to confirm any allergies. Other people who do technically have an allergy have one that is so mild that the benefits of using Penicillin far outweigh any mild allergic reactions they may experience.

The good news is that testing is simple. An allergist can perform a simple skin test to determine with certainty whether the person has a serious allergy or not. If you think you may be allergic to penicillin or any other medication, you should consider visiting an allergist near you. View our 8 convenient locations

Author
Dr. Summit Shah

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