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Medical Magic: Penicillin Allergies May Disappear

Penicillin allergies are apparently more common than many other pharmaceutical allergies. However, new studies say the commonly prescribed antibiotic may be more easily tolerated than those who have stayed away from the regimen think.

According to Heath Day, “Many Americans may check the box ‘allergic to penicillin’ on medical forms, but new research suggests that most of them are mistaken.”

This expert source contends, “Followup testing revealed that most people who believed they were allergic to penicillin were actually not allergic to the antibiotic, according to two new studies.”

The studies, as presented on Nov. 7 in Atlanta at the annual meeting of American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), divulged some interesting statistics to ponder.

Medical Magic: Penicillin Allergies May Disappear

According to one of the studies, out of 384 humans who thought they were allergic to the antibiotic, a whopping 94 percent of those candidates tested negative. The other study involved 38 people who submitted to penicillin skin testing. All of those candidates tested negative for an allergy.

Dr. Luz Fonacier, head of the allergy section within the division of rheumatology, allergy and immunology at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. contends, “Penicillin skin testing is the most reliable method for evaluating immediate hypersensitivity reaction to penicillin.”

This expert, who said the test just takes 30 minutes, adds, “When negative, which is most of the time, the patient can then most likely tolerate penicillin.”

Meanwhile, lead author of the first study, Dr. Thanai Pongdee, contends, “A large number of people in our study who had a history of penicillin allergy were actually not allergic,” This researcher said that those people “may have had an unfavorable response to penicillin at some point in the past, such as hives or swelling, but they did not demonstrate any evidence of penicillin allergy at the current time,”

When this new research, which is still in the testing stages, was offered at the annual ACAAI meeting, the main takeaway was that it does not necessarily matter how bad someone’s initial reaction to penicillin has been at other times in their lives. In other words, the potential to outgrow penicillin allergies is proving to be great.

Pongee pointed out, “It doesn’t happen very often that a health care provider challenges the presumption that the patient is still allergic. Many don’t realize that this is something a person may lose over time,”