Did you know that around 10% of Americans say they have a penicillin allergy?
In reality, the number of people with a true penicillin allergy is far closer to less than 1% of the population. That’s potentially excellent news because when it comes to antibiotics, penicillin is one of the safest and most effective for numerous bacterial infections. On top of that, it typically comes with a lower price tag and fewer side effects than other options.
But the last thing a person wants to do is risk serious health complications by taking penicillin if there’s a possibility of an allergic reaction. Fortunately, we can help.
Our experienced team of allergists at Advanced Allergy & Asthma can safely determine if you have a penicillin allergy.
The confusion around penicillin allergies
Like many allergies, there are several reasons people can assume they have a problem with penicillin. For many, they had a bad reaction when taking penicillin as a child. For others, they confuse side effects or symptoms of illness with an allergic reaction.
The truth is that even if you had a penicillin allergy at some point in the past, this sensitivity often disappears for 80% of people after ten years. And, unlike side effects of medication or signs of illness, allergic reactions to penicillin cause very specific symptoms.
Common signs of a true penicillin allergy include:
- Swollen lips, tongue, or skin
- Itching, hives, or rash
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Runny nose
In severe penicillin allergies, you can also experience anaphylaxis. This rare and life-threatening reaction causes serious complications, from trouble breathing and drops in blood pressure to accelerated pulse and loss of consciousness.
Most people with a penicillin allergy develop symptoms within 60 minutes of taking their prescription. But, in rare cases, allergic reactions can occur in hours, days, or weeks afterward.
How to safely confirm a penicillin allergy
If you’re worried you have a penicillin allergy, there are ways to find out. And, no, you don’t have to risk a bad reaction by taking some penicillin. Instead, you can schedule an appointment with one of our skilled allergists in Ogden, Utah.
During your appointment, our team reviews your medical history and asks questions about your past reactions to penicillin. Finally, we perform a simple scratch test.
When you have a scratch test, we make a small prick in your skin and introduce a tiny amount of penicillin into your system. Then, we watch the area for changes, like swelling, itching, or redness. If this occurs, you have a penicillin allergy. Similarly, if nothing happens, you likely do not.
Once you know if you have a penicillin allergy, we can offer personalized recommendations about how to move forward. There are ways to safely navigate medical treatment for infections while avoiding penicillin medications. However, we also offer treatment programs designed to desensitize people to drugs like penicillin.
Are you ready to find out if you’re allergic to penicillin? Contact Advanced Allergy & Asthma in Ogden, Utah, to schedule an appointment by calling today.