Penicillin allergies – do you have one?

One of our aims is to create a community where we myth bust.


Anything we do here is backed up by complete scientific evidence that I research and read about.


So today, we’re going slightly off topic (we’re still talking about allergies). I want to speak about penicillin allergies. I’ve spoken previously about the difference between allergies and intolerances.


An allergy is when you are at risk of having a life-threatening anaphylactic attack if you come into contact with the penicillin.


The problem with penicillin allergies is that a lot of people think they have them. In reality, they just had or still have an intolerance. More the nine in ten people who believe that they have penicillin allergies actually do not. So why is this a problem?


According to NICE  (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), millions of people are at a higher risk of superbugs because of this. Those who have or believe they have a penicillin allergy are 69 per cent more likely to get the superbug MRSA if they are admitted to hospital. There is also an increased risk of antibiotic resistance.


This is because if you state that you have a penicillin allergy you will be prescribed with less effective (and also more expensive!) antibiotics.


So what can you do about this?


If you think you have a penicillin allergy go and speak to your local GP.  They will then recommend you for testing. A penicillin allergy test is a very easy pinprick test and could help you a lot in the long term! Also, anything that stops the rise of superbugs and antibiotic resistance is a great thing.

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