Allergy to Penicillin

How does this develop?

This particular allergy is one that develops after you have been exposed to penicillin; you cannot be born with it. This is not restricted to the first time you are exposed to penicillin; an allergy can develop at any time in your life. After this, when exposed again, an allergic reaction can occur. It is possible to have an adverse reaction to penicillin, or an intolerance, rather than actually being allergic. If you are unsure, seek medical advice to make sure your condition is correctly diagnosed. Knowing as much as possible about your individual case will decrease the risk to your health should you have a reaction.

Developing resistance to penicillin

The majority of people who have been diagnosed with a penicillin allergy actually slowly become desensitised to it, and eventually no longer have the allergy. This is useful to be aware of if you do suffer from the allergy but before say removing your bracelet that identifies you as allergic to penicillin make sure you have consulted a doctor or allergist. This is particularly relevant if you have previously been prone to having the more severe allergic reactions outlined below.

More severe reactions to penicillin

Allergic reactions to penicillin vary in severity and can even be an anaphylactic reaction. This type of allergic reaction is very dangerous and can occur any time between 5 minutes and approximately 2 hours after you have been exposed to penicillin. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening so it is crucial that you, if you experience this severe a reaction, inform friends and family of your allergy. In addition it is a good idea to wear a bracelet which identifies you as allergic to penicillin so that medics are immediately aware of this, should there be an accident.

Other related drugs that can also cause an allergic reaction

If you do develop an allergy to penicillin it is important to be aware that some other antibiotics could provoke an allergic reaction too. Penicillin belongs to a group known as beta-lactam antibiotics which include medications such as amoxicillin and ampicillin. Carbenicillin, ticarcillin and piperacillin would also pose a problem to those who are allergic to penicillin. Although this list is not exhaustive, it highlights the fact that it is important to do as much research as possible into what other products and drugs can result in an allergic reaction, if you have been found to be allergic to penicillin.

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