Testing for Penicillin Allergy at Ohio State

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , /

Many studies over the years have demonstrated
that over ten percent of patients will report penicillin allergy when they come in to the
doctor’s office or the hospital. But when we look at these patients and see
how many could actually tolerate penicillin or amoxicillin or similar medications, over
ninety percent of these patients can actually tolerate these medications under certain circumstances. So many patients will think that they do have
a penicillin allergy because perhaps they took the medication and then developed an
itchy rash or other problems after taking the medication, but we know that majority
of patients even if they were allergic at one point in time, over a ten-year period
of time will actually outgrow that allergy. Or perhaps there was another set of circumstances
where they weren’t actually allergic but developed that rash for another– due to another reason
or cause. One unique opportunity that we have as allergists
is to talk with patients about what exactly happened when they took penicillin or amoxicillin
when it occurred and if they’ve had any similar medications since that reaction. Based on that history, and then using some
testing that we can do in the office, vast majority of the time we’re able to rule out
a ongoing penicillin allergy and we actually can take that allergy off of a patient’s allergy
list and really open up the doors to first line treatment options for many common infections
that require these medications such as sinus infections, pneumonias, urine infections,
things that we encounter from a day-to-day basis. And this is going to be really important as
we move forward and think about all of the things we hear in the media about antibiotic
resistance and and really opening up the first line treatment options as you move forward
and go through our day-to-day lives and encounter infections that require antibiotic treatment.

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