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Thanks to a recent study, scientists now have an over-diagnosis of penicillin allergies. Most patients who report a penicillin allergy, in fact, do not have a medical confirmation of the condition. It is imperative to understand that a misdiagnosed penicillin allergy can be detrimental to the treatment of a disease that requires penicillin-based antibiotics.
Anyone who perceives that they have a penicillin allergy without medical evidence to back it up should consider getting a proper medical diagnosis. Penicillin is considered relatively cheap and less-toxic than most antibiotics.
For an accurate diagnosis, a thorough medical exam and designated tests are mandatory. A doctor will conduct a thorough physical examination and ask questions relevant to your condition. These inquiries may include the details about the onset, treatment and the reduction of these symptoms. This line of questioning will actually facilitate the physician to make a diagnosis.
Your doctor will then refer you to an allergy specialist for the following tests.
This is close to external testing and includes penicillin being sporadically applied to the skin. The allergist will administer a dose of penicillin to the upper surface of your skin through tiny needles or through an injection. If you are even mildly allergic your skin will show a reaction. It will get red, itchy or produce red raised-bumps. A positive result indicates that you are susceptible of an adverse reaction. However, it is difficult to determine a negative result through physical or skin tests.
There is a chance that even if your skin test and physical test do not show any signs of the said allergy, you might still have it. Your physician might think so because of the symptoms you are displaying and order a graded drug challenge.
A graded drug challenge includes administering four to five doses of different strengths to the patient. The first dose is quite small and negligible, the next a little stronger and this pattern continues till you reach the therapeutic dose. If there still isn’t a reaction your doctor will deem that particular kind of penicillin safe for you.
Most doctors will conduct this test with types of penicillin that are the least likely to cause allergies due to their chemical composition. If you are not allergic to that type, your doctor can further conduct tests for other types. The positive outcome is that if you do not display allergic reactions you can be administered higher doses for treatment.
These tests are conducted in controlled environments. Doctors are ready with antidotes if you experience a reaction to the tests.
If you do not have medical proof to support your allergy, get it diagnosed by a licensed allergist or a doctor. If you are indeed allergic you can always opt for treatment and desensitize procedure for the drug. Your doctor may prescribe you antihistamines or corticosteroids to curb the reaction.
Call our offices at 212-319-5282 to schedule an appointment with the best allergist in New York City.