Am I allergic to Penicillin?
Dr. Cascya Charlot of Allergy & Asthma Care of Brooklyn explains that the answer is "Probably Not".
Penicillin allergies are the most documented drug allergy in the United States, reported to affect over 10 percent of the population. However, recent reports have found that 9 out of 10 patients (90%) who report as penicillin allergic are incorrectly diagnosed.
Symptoms of rash and stomach problems are commonly mistaken as allergic reactions to antibiotics, though the majority are unrelated.
Why get tested?
Incorrect labeling of patients as "Penicillin allergic" is a leading cause for the overuse of broad-spectrum antibiotics which are more expensive and increased side effects. This overuse of broad-spectrum antibiotics has directly resulted in the growing antibiotic resistance.
Overuse of broad-spectrum antibiotics for penicillin allergies has led to an increase in drug-resistant bacteria such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Broad-spectrum antibiotics also significantly increase the final cost of treatment for patients to use alternative medications.
Who should be tested?
Anyone who is labeled with a penicillin allergy should be evaluated. There is no genetic component to penicillin allergies, therefore a family history of penicillin allergies is not a contraindication for testing. Reactions to penicillin wane over time. After 10 years, the majority of sensitization is lost even in patients with severe reactions.
What is testing like?
The first step is meeting with your allergist for an in-depth history of your reaction. For suitable candidates, the Pre-Pen testing serum will be ordered at that time. You will return for an allergy skin test where protein from the penicillin antibiotics scratch the surface of the skin. Based on the results of the skin test, an oral penicillin challenge in the office will safely rule an IgE medicated penicillin allergy. You and your primary care doctor will receive a letter indicating that avoidance of penicillin is no longer needed.
To receive further information about penicillin reactions and allergies and to schedule an evaluation, please contact Allergy and Asthma Care of Brooklyn at (347) 564-3211.