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Allergy Specialist in Elgin, IL explains penicillin allergy and the importance of proper diagnosis

Recent research has begun to expose what many doctors have suspected for years, that the number of patients who are actually allergic to penicillin is lower than we think. A Penicillin allergy is diagnosed when your body has an adverse or abnormal reaction to the antibiotic. Penicillin is a common antibiotic that is prescribed for many types of bacterial infections. While not to make light of the allergy, severe allergic reactions to penicillin can include anaphylaxis, it is important to accurately identify the problem so patients can receive the best type of antibiotic treatment available.

What is Penicillin?

Penicillin is a class of antibacterial drugs that fight infections.

Symptoms of Penicillin Allergy

Most symptoms of an allergic reaction to penicillin take place very quickly (within about an hour of taking the drug). In some cases, patients may experience these reactions days or even weeks later.

Symptoms can include: hives, itching, rash, fever, shortness of breath, wheezing, itchy eyes, and anaphylaxis.


Penicillin allergies occur because the body’s immune system has identified the drug as a harmful substance, attacking it like it would an infection. Patients who are at risk for penicillin allergies are those who have a history of allergies, allergic reactions to other drugs, a family history of drug allergies, or certain illnesses known for allergic drug reactions such as HIV.

One of the most important reasons for properly identifying penicillin allergies is to ensure patients receive the right medication. For many who believe they have a penicillin allergy, the only confirmation comes from being told they had a reaction many years ago as a child, often an experience he or she doesn’t remember. This information leads the doctor to prescribe other antibiotics which can often be less effective, cost more, and have more side effects. Furthermore, research has gone on to prove that many patients who did have a reaction to the drug as a child, outgrew them.

The good news is there is a simple skin test that takes about thirty minutes. At Advanced Allergy & Asthma Associates, we have years of experience with skin testing and can help you accurately determine if you have a penicillin allergy. For more information, call us at 847 888 8802.


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