Penicillin Allergy: Symptoms and Risk

Penicillin is an antibiotic that is often used to treat certain bacterial infections, such as strep throat and venereal diseases. Penicillin was the first antibiotic developed and because it has been around for so long is it very inexpensive, yet very effective when used for certain infections. However, as with any drug or substance, some people will show signs of an allergy to penicillin, or will develop an allergy to penicillin. A penicillin allergy can be life threatening, so it is good to understand the symptoms of a penicillin allergy prior to taking the medication.

Allergies are tricky things. A person may have been exposed many, many times to a certain substance, such as a food or medication, with no ill effects only to suddenly develop and allergy when exposed to the same substance again. There is no real explanation for why this happens, but certain people do have a genetic predispostion to allergies. Even if no one if your family is allergy prone, or allergic to penicillin, you can still have a penicillin allergy. It may make itself know the first time that you take the medication, or the allergy may begin after you’ve taken penicillin a number of time. No matter the case, a penicillin allergy can be life threatening.

A penicillin allergy may present with symptoms as simple as a rash, or as severe as anaphylactic shock, which is an extremely emergent situation that require immediate medical help. The milder symptoms of a penicillin allergy include itching, hives, a rash, and wheezing. If you develop these symptoms while taking penicillin, you should stop the medication immediately and alert your physician right away so that he is aware of your reaction, and can change you to a new medication.

Anaphylactic shock, a much more severe allergic reaction, consists of symptoms that include wheezing, swelling of the face, lips, and tongue, difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat, dizziness, a weak or rapid pulse and a lose of consciousness. If you are taking penicillin and begin to feel any of these symptoms you need to call 911 immediately, or have someone do it for you. This sort of allergy can come on very quickly and needs prompt medical intervention to prevent death.

Anyone can develop a penicillin allergy. An allergy to penicillin happens when you take the medication and your body thinks that it is a bad thing rather than something to help you. Your body then responds by producing immunoglobulins that attack the substance, producing the allergy symptoms. Once you show any signs of a penicillin allergy you need to let your doctor know so that it can be recorded in your chart, and you should never take the medication again. Always tell any new doctor about your penicillin allergy, including ER doctors, and carry a card with you in your purse or wallet should you be unconscious and unable to tell someone of your allergy. People with severe penicillin allergies may want to wear a MedicAlert bracelet. There are many antibiotics available today that will do the same job as penicillin, so your infection can be treated effectively without putting your life at risk.

Penicillin Allergy: Symptoms
http://www.mayoclinic.com

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