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Study Says One Reaction to Penicillin does not mean you are Allergic

Update Date: Nov 05, 2015 05:14 PM EST

People who have reacted to penicillin and were told that they are allergic to the antibiotic might not actually be allergic, a new study reported.

In a very small study, researchers looked at the medical records of 15 people. The people were all told that they had an allergy to penicillin based on a reaction they had. However, all 15 of them tested negative for a penicillin allergy and were able to be treated with penicillin intravenously numerous times.

"Of the patients whose records we examined, there were no adverse drug reactions or evidence of recurrence of their penicillin allergy," study author and allergist Dr. David Khan said reported by HealthDay (via WebMD). "There is often thought to be a higher risk in patients who get intravenous penicillin, but we did not find this to be the case."

The researchers stated that their study's findings could be helpful since people who believe that they are allergic to penicillin often have to take other types of antibiotics, which can cost more and lead to riskier health consequences.

"Recent research has shown that patients who are labeled penicillin-allergic and take other antibiotics are more likely to have poor outcomes, such as development of colitis, longer hospital stays and greater numbers of antibiotic-resistant infections," allergist Dr. Roland Solensky commented.

Roughly 10 percent of Americans think that they have a penicillin allergy. The researchers hope that their findings could encourage those within this 10 percent who have not been allergy testes to go and get one.

Khan explained, "An allergist will work with you to find out if you're truly allergic to penicillin, and to determine what your options are for treatment if you are. If you're not, you'll be able to use medications that are safer, often more effective and less expensive."

The findings were presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in San Antonio.

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