Millions of Americans Misdiagnosed with Penicillin Allergy
According to a study recently presented by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, about 90 percent of people diagnosed with a penicillin allergy as children in the United States—about 25 to 50 million people—can actually tolerate the antibiotic as adults. For these people, penicillin allergy was misdiagnosed, or they grew out of it.
Penicillin and penicillin-related antibiotics are used to treat infections. They have a long history of safety and efficacy. When young children with an ear infection, for example, are given penicillin and develop a rash, they often are diagnosed with an allergy to the medication—which may, in fact, not be the case. Once a person is diagnosed with a penicillin allergy, he or she is given other antibiotics that may have more side effects or be less effective for certain conditions.
Penicillin allergy can be accurately diagnosed through a simple test followed by a low-dose of oral penicillin administered under a doctor's observation. Within about three hours, a suspected allergy to penicillin can be safely confirmed or ruled out.
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