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Penicillin allergies might not have been properly diagnosed

Many people are told that they are allergic to penicillin based on reactions they had as children. While it is important to stay away from medications that you are actually allergic to, it has come to light that some people who think they have a penicillin allergy aren't actually allergic to the drug.

Penicillin and its related antibiotics are the first line of defense for many infections. This leaves people with a known allergy to the drug having to take other antibiotics that might be less effective or have more side effects than penicillin.

It is estimated that as many as 90 percent of the Americans who have been diagnosed with an allergy to penicillin might not be allergic. It is possible that some people who were diagnosed with an allergy as a child have outgrown the allergy or were misdiagnosed with the allergy.

One issue that has been noted is that some people were diagnosed with a penicillin allergy were given the diagnosis based on symptoms like a rash when given the drug. This might not be the case at all.

It is possible for people to find out if they are actually allergic to the drug by taking a low dose of the drug orally while under a doctor's supervision. It takes around three hours to complete the challenge test, but the patient would then know for certain.

Doctors must carefully consider drug interactions and allergies when prescribing drugs. If a person has a known and confirmed allergy, prescribing that drug could be dangerous or deadly. In this case, the patient might opt to seek compensation for the medication error.

Source: HealthCentral.com, "Millions of Americans Misdiagnosed with Penicillin Allergy," accessed Dec. 16, 2016

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