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Your penicillin allergy? Experts say you never had one



One in ten respondents believe that they are allergic to penicillin, but recent research suggests that almost all of those respondents are wrong.

A report published by researchers from the Massachusetts General in the January issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association The hospital found that 95 percent of people who believe that they have an allergy actually do not. The astounding statistics suggest that doctors advise patients to re-examine the allergy for more effective treatment.

"I only do it every day to refute penicillin allergies," says study author Dr. Kimberly Blumenthal, an internist specializing in allergy and immunology. "I only did that four times yesterday. It becomes so difficult to find really allergic patients. "

About one in 20 people suffers from an allergy that is usually diagnosed in childhood when someone is first exposed to antibiotics. The initial reaction can range from mild itching to severe anaphylaxis, but even then the allergy usually disappears by itself after a decade.

Blumenthal says. Conversely, she notes that some people develop allergies to drugs later in life.

The more than three-year report looked at penicillin allergy data in the US and Europe and found that not only are the diagnoses wrong. Most of the time, however, patients do not even remember the source of their diagnosis of what happened years ago could be.

"Part of it has to do with a poor initial diagnosis," says Dr. Erica Shenoy. Internist specializing in infectious diseases and immunizations at Mass General and co-author of the study. "As a child, they might have a rash, and no one knew what it was. Infections in children that cause skin rashes are so common, viral or bacterial. "

" It's getting harder and harder to find really allergic patients.

Before penicillin was introduced in the 1

940s, an infected scratch could occur was deadly. But the drug ushered in the antibiotic era and often made lethal diseases such as pneumonia, gonorrhea, and rheumatic fever treatable. Today, many common antibiotics, such as amoxicillin and augmentin, belong to the penicillin family and are used to treat a range of conditions, from ear infections to throat infections.

Penicillin is a strong and "narrow" antibiotic. This means that it deals with certain problems by targeting the problem directly. This makes it the best treatment of, for example, syphilis. Instead, if a patient believes they have an allergy, the doctor prescribes a broad-spectrum antibiotic that treats a range of diseases – which can be "less effective" depending on the infection, says Shenoy. Antibiotics also contribute to the drug-resistant bacterial epidemic.

So who should be tested again? Pretty much anyone who believes that they have an allergy, especially if they can not remember why they think they have an allergy at all. Since the 1960s, however, it was approved by the FDA in 2009. Bonus: It will most likely be covered by your insurance.

Shenoy says. "A retest for penicillin allergy should be part of a health maintenance checklist."


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