Penicillin Allergy

The penicillin works against the bacterial infection in the body and it is used extensively in modern medical science. But unknowingly some people suffer from an allergy to penicillin. There is no certain reason about why a particular group of people suffers from the allergy and why another group isn’t, but it is assumed that the immune system of the body overact to the penicillin which causes it. A lot of people can outgrow the penicillin allergy at some part of life, but there is no certainty and nobody can provide a guarantee on that.

The bacteria are produced quite frequently in our body for different reasons and the immune system should be enough to protect it. But in some stages, it doesn’t work against some strong influenced bacteria and needs help externally. In this case, the penicillin antibiotic can help the immune system to obstacle the bacterial cells to build up. The bacteria cells first build up a wall around it and then maintain its structure. So, the antibiotic needs to penetrate the wall and do the damage. The penicillin does the same work and rescues us from any bacterial infection to take place.

It was discovered by Alexander Fleming back in 1928 when it made a revolution in the history of treatment against bacteria. There are quite a few types of penicillin which are used as antibiotics for several bacterial infections in the body. The ear, sinus, throat are some of the prime places where bacterial infection results. You may have heard some of the names such as ampicillin, phenoxymethylpenicillin, flucloxacillin who are in the similar ground of penicillin antibiotics. Once you are allergic to one of them, there is a higher possibility that you would have an allergic reaction to others as well. The reaction can be mild to severe. The penicillin allergy rashes, hives and itchy skin are the most common symptoms which are recoverable by consuming the antihistamine tablet. The most severe reaction is known as anaphylaxis. In such case, the patient must need to contact a doctor in order to survive in life.

What Causes Penicillin Allergy?

The immune system is very responsive and works against all the harmful substance which tries to enter into our body. Due to some reason, it reacts adversely when penicillin antibiotic is taken as a tablet, syrup or powder. First it produces antibodies which fight against the protein of the antibiotic and eventually a new chemical is produced. We call it Histamine which is accumulated in an excessive manner inside the body. It goes through the bloodstream and effects in the soft tissues such as skin. Nobody has the control upon the function of the immune system and thus this is quite difficult to anticipate when and how much the severity would be.

The Signs of Penicillin Allergy:

The penicillin allergy symptoms are a great way to detect it and you should always remember them in order to quickly anticipate it and take immediate action. The list includes both mild and severe symptoms:

  • Anaphylaxis (when the reaction is most severe)
  •  Blood disorders
  • Convulsions
  • Dermatitis
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Erythema
  • Feeling sick
  • Hives
  • Inflammation of the liver (hepatitis)
  • Itchy skin
  • Kidney inflammation (nephritis)
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Rapid or weak pulse
  • Rash
  • Swelling of the throat or tongue
  • Swollen lips, tongue or face (angioedema)
  • Wheezing

What Tests are Available for Detecting the Allergy to Penicillin?

This is a very important step which helps you to detect the exact food allergy. In a lot of cases it has been seen that the patient is actually not suffering to the exact allergy he/she infers. There are several tests available to determine the penicillin allergy and they should be enough for 100% confirmation. The skin prick test is the most common one. During this test, a tiny amount of penicillin with different preparations will be ingested in different parts of your body. Then the doctor will observe how you react to it. If you are positive to penicillin allergy, then those places will turn to read and itchiness is very common. The test is not painful and does not hurt. This is a very common one for people of all ages and you should get the complete report within an hour or so.

The challenge test is another way to determine the allergy problem. You will be offered a dose of antibiotic through the mouth. If you can tolerate the smallest dose, then a higher dose will be given for more assurance. Gradually, the concentration will be increased. Beside this, the blood test is done to detect the IgE antibody in the body.

Remember that, while performing the tests there should be enough arrangement to alleviate any serious condition and what could be a better place than the hospital or doctor lab to make this happen? You never should try such tests at home which can make the condition even worse.

Can I Recover from Penicillin Allergy through Treatment?

There are various types of treatment depending on the situation you are in. If you are new at this and been suffering for the first time ever, then this is wise to decide not to take any more penicillin antibiotic in the next few days until a doctor confirms it. You also should be aware of other closely related antibiotics which are used for the same purpose. You can also take antihistamines (Benadryl) which counter attack the histamine chemical and provide relief. This works better when the symptoms are mild such as hives, rashes and itchiness in the skin.

When the condition gets worse such, for instance if you are suffering from breathing difficulties, drowsiness, drop in blood pressure, dizziness, wheezing etc then you are probably heading towards anaphylactic attack and it needs more serious care. You should always carry an allergy kit which includes epinephrine injection. This injection is a must in case of anaphylaxis. You also should contact the doctor who can arrange the treatment of oral or injected corticosteroids.

There are a lot of allergic patients who must take penicillin antibiotic in order to combat with bacterial infection. In this circumstance, desensitization is the only solution and you have to undergo for it. During this treatment, the antibiotic will be given to you in a controlled and gradual manner and under the supervision of an expert. The volume will be increased gradually and within your ability to cope with the situation. Sometime this treatment is done in the intensive care unit (ICU). So, depending on the situation the penicillin allergy treatment will be provided.

There are few alternatives of penicillin allergy which works against bacterial infection but does not trigger the allergic reaction. You may use Cephalosporins, Aminoglycosides, Tetracyclines, Macrolides as antibiotics which work for different purpose for the recovery from various infections.

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