Penicillin Allergies- FACTS from National Penicillin Day – Sept 28th, 2018
Did you know that there is a day in September for penicillin allergies? Yes, Sept 28th, 2018 has been chosen as this special day because the reports of allergies to penicillin have been dramatically increasing!
Another few (see below for medical articles for these facts)…
Did you know millions of Americans have been MISDIAGNOSED with a penicillin allergy?
While 10% of the population believes they have one, LESS THAN 1% ACTUALLY HAS ONE!!
Penicillin may have been around since 1929, but it remains the go-to for many illnesses, from strep throat to meningitis. In some cases it is the only known, effective treatment out there.
Of course, if you have a penicillin allergy it’s vital to identify it so you can pass that information on to health providers. But if you don’t, you’re spending extra money for alternative drugs which are less effective. In some cases you’ll needlessly miss out on having access to any treatments at all.
What’s the problem with alternative drugs?
Some of alternatives may open you up to additional health problems. Many of them are broad-spectrum antibiotics. You may be aware there are both good bacteria and bad bacteria in our bodies. The broad-spectrum antibiotics kill both. This can open the door to other infections.
Penicillin is an antibiotic as well, but it doesn’t have this problem. Thus, if no allergy is present it’s usually a better choice.
What are the symptoms of a penicillin allergy?
The symptoms can be distressing and dangerous. They include:
- Rashes or hives
- Breathing problems
It’s important to note people can also end up allergic to this drug after years of taking it safely. An allergy is nothing more than the body’s decision to start producing antibodies in response to certain substances (Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America) . Some have allergies and don’t know it, while others think they have allergies, and do not!
How can this allergy be treated?
Avoidance is the first step. If you really are allergic you need to let all your medical providers know so they can set you up with alternatives. We may also prescribe antihistamines or corticosteroids, depending on your unique needs.
How can anyone think they have an allergy if they actually don’t?
There are three ways this happens.
- Sometimes people show symptoms while they’re taking penicillin, but they’re coincidental. You might have had an allergic reaction to something else which was blamed on the penicillin. Your doctor may have had a “better safe than sorry” philosophy. In earlier decades the risks of the alternatives hadn’t been as extensively studied, so physicians usually felt there was no harm in switching over.
- Sometimes the apparent allergy was the result of a drug interaction you may have had at the time.
- Finally, you might well have had an allergy as a child, but that doesn’t mean you still have one. The allergy often reverses itself, especially if you’ve avoided penicillin for 10 years or more. It would be wise to get testing from a certified allergy testing clinic like ours just to be sure, so you can use this life-saving drug if you need it.
How does allergy testing work?
We will perform a scratch skin test, a blood test, or both (yes, we can even test children for allergies!). In most cases this will give us an accurate read on whether the allergy is present. In some cases we may perform a “supervised consumption” test, in which we have you take a little penicillin here at the office to see what it does. We will only do this if we judge the risks of doing so to be low.
Testing doesn’t take much time, and it doesn’t cost much! So don’t guess, don’t self-diagnose, and don’t rely on what doctors told you when you were 8.
Please, make an appointment with your allergy specialist to get tested today!
Resources to Read Penicillin Allergies?
- Macy, Eric. Penicillin Allergy: Optimizing Diagnostic Protocols, Public Health Implications, and Future Research Needs. Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology: August 2015 – Volume 15 – Issue 4 – p 308–313
- Salkind, Alan R., Paul G. Cuddy, and John W. Foxworth. “Is This Patient Allergic To Penicillin?: An Evidence-Based Analysis of the Likelihood of Penicillin Allergy.” JAMA 285.19 (2001): 2498-2505.
- Macy, E., & Contreras, R. (2014). Healthcare Use and Serious Infection Prevalence Associated with Penicillin “Allergy” in Hospitalized Patients: A Cohort Study. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 133(3), 790-796.
- Owens, R. C., Fraser, G. L., & Stogsdill, P. (2004). Antimicrobial Stewardship Programs as a Means to Optimize Antimicrobial Use. Pharmacotherapy, 24(7), 896-908.
- Blumenthal, Kimberly G., et al. “Addressing Inpatient Beta-Lactam Allergies: A Multihospital Implementation.” The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice 5.3 (2017): 616-625.
- Dellit, T. H. (2007). Summary of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America Guidelines for Developing an Institutional Program to Enhance Antimicrobial Stewardship. Infectious Diseases in Clinical Practice, 15(4), 263-264.
- National Penicillin Day
- Allergies to Antihistamines article
What is Allergic Rhinitis?
Allergic rhinitis (A.R) is more commonly referred to as “hay fever” or “allergies.” The medical term describes a cluster of symptoms that affect the nose, causing inflammation and an immune system reaction. Exposure to irritants or allergens during the Arizona allergy season can cause extreme discomfort and may also exacerbate other respiratory issues, making diagnosis and treatment vital.
Once treated, most people find that recovery is rapid, and that they can immediately return to normal activities. The problem is that most people do not go to a specialist right away, so please read so you can avoid this!
Allergic Rhinitis Symptoms & Causes
Patients suffering from A.R. can react differently from one another. Usually, early signs cause clients to wake up feeling groggy or stuffed up, with a tickle in their throat or nose. After a day of rubbing their eyes and sneezing, most know that the allergy has started. If you are experiencing any of the following, Allergic rhinitis is a likely culprit:
- Persistent sneezing
- Runny nose
- Watery Eyes
- Feelings of pressure in the head, neck, or face
- Fatigue or sluggishness
- Poor sleep quality
- Altered sense of smell
- Altered sense of taste
- Clogged ears or impaired hearing
- Discoloration around the eyes
- Mild swelling or puffiness in the eye or nasal area
- Sore throat or hoarse voice from draining
Hayfever (allergic rhinitis). can be caused by any irritant that triggers the immune system. Dust, animal dander, mold, pollen, or chemical exposure, are all possible instigators, with pollen being the most common. When pollen is the issue, we often refer to the condition as “hay fever.” Grasses, weeds, desert flowers and trees flood the air with seeds and pollehttp://allergyarizona.net/pollen-count-and-allergic-reactions-treatments-from-phoenix-allergist/n throughout the warm months, making hot, dry Arizona allergy season conditions especially miserable for hay fever sufferers.
Treatment Options -Make Changes to your Lifestyle
Great strides can be made to address allergies via simple lifestyle changes.
Patients often find tremendous relief from installing air filters that remove excess dust, debris, dust mites, and pet dander from the air. This is particularly important when they live near high traffic areas, construction sites, or open fields. If allergies are severe, it may be smart to avoid opening windows since dust tends to blow around at a higher rate. Adding humidity to the air will help contaminants fall to the ground so they can’t irritate sensitive nasal passages and lungs.
- Mold: If mold is a factor in symptoms, patients shouldhave a heating and cooling professional visit to inspect for growth in vents and air conditioning units.
- Food: Food allergies can compound other allergies, so if you see reactions after eating foods containing dairy, nuts, or other common allergens, you should make dietary alterations to reduce inflammation and reactivity in the body, and make an appointment immediately at one of our allergy clinics!
- Pet Dander: It may be impossible to give up pets, so it is important to try other measures that dramatically reduce exposure to dander. Using washable slip covers on furniture is recommended. Frequent vacuuming with a cleaner designed to pick up pet hair is ideal. Strategically placed air filters can greatly minimize the presence of allergens in rooms frequented by Fido or Fluffy.
- Nasal Wash: The popularity of nasal washes is directly due to their success in helping allergy sufferers. The wash serves to both soothe nasal passages and rinse away debris. As this debris is reduced, compounding of congestion as blocked passages collect allergens is resolved, providing almost immediate comfort. Special pots for this purpose have been around for centuries and are known as “neti pots.” More modern versions can be found in most pharmacies.
Treatment Options -Clinical Solutions to Allergic Rhinitis
There’s a good chance that if you’ve read this far, you’ve already tried a number of lifestyle solutions without success. This indicates that it’s time to get professional help at one of our clinics. Something more complex may be causing your allergies and we do a number of allergy tests that can help us to find out what is triggering your issues. Our doctors can even test for specific allergens – and will prescribe targeted treatments that work MUCH better than home, or over-the-counter remedies.
Adult & Pediatric Allergy Associates can help!
Our 5 clinics have allergy experts (nurses, physicians and staff) who can get to the true heart of your problem. While the term “allergies” is very broad, the truth is that most patients struggle with a few specific triggers to their respiratory health. Knowing exactly what those are, helps you and your doctor identify the most successful, individualized treatment plan for you. This may include lifestyle changes similar to those above, or could include prescription strength medications. Treatments may include:
- Oral antihistamines to block the body’s allergic reactions
- Nasal corticosteroid sprays
- Decongestants to mitigate symptoms
- Leukotriene inhibitors to stop the release of allergy associated chemicals in the body
- Allergy shots
No matter what course you and your physician choose, A.R. is highly responsive to treatment. Most of these are noninvasive, and allow you to live uninterrupted with vastly improved comfort and energy levels. There is no reason to delay. Call us now at 602-242-4592 and banish your allergy symptoms today!