An allergist from the Texas A&M College of Medicine, Dr. Thomas Leath says the most of the people who believe they are allergic to penicillin, are not actually.
According to him “The biggest problem in using penicillin are the hypersensitivity reactions”.
He stated for the university news that “Many people don`t know the reason why they claim to be allergic to penicillin. Maybe they had a bad reaction as children, or a member of their family had some reaction to it so they were told not to take penicillin.”
As the doctor noted, these people need to take more expensive antibiotics, which have more side effects. The best thing to do is to take a skin test which will show if you have a penicillin allergy or not.
Many people mistakenly think they are allergic because doctors often prescribe penicillin for problems which cannot be treating with this drug, like colds or flu.
Dr. Leith says the “”Penicillin can`t kill viruses, like the common cold for example. An antibiotic given for treating virus can cause rash or some other side effect, so we think it`s because of the penicillin allergy we have.”
Some of the symptoms of a real allergic reaction to penicillin are: nausea, vomiting, swollen lips, throat and tongue, diarrhea, and certain symptoms which resemble asthma.
According to Leath: “Allergy to penicillin can cause sudden drop of blood pressure, dizziness, even loss of consciousness”.
Experiencing most of these symptoms at the same time indicates anaphylactic reaction, which can be life-threating so it requires immediate health care.
If the allergy is real, the reactions will happen very quickly, 10-15 minutes after the exposure to the drug, or within 1-2 hours.
In case you have some reaction 2-3 days after you`ve had penicillin, probably it`s not an allergy.