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Dr. Sohaib
Dr. Sohaib, Doctor
Category: Medical
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Experience:  MBBS, FCPS Experienced in all Medical Specialities
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Hi, I am wondering about penicillin allergy and whether it

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Hi,
I am wondering about penicillin allergy and whether it can be truly tested clinically, given that penicillin-antibiotics are more effective than other antibiotics in treating some infections. I have asked my doctor about this and they've said that it's done only in a hospital setting.
Could I not, however, test a day's dose of penicillin to see whether there are any adverse reactions and to know whether I am truly allergic to penicillin.

Dr. Sohaib :

Hello and thank you for the question.


Answers given are for informational purposes only and are not meant to replace an exam by an in-person.


I am Dr. Sohaib, a practicing Internal Medicine Specialist and i will do my best to help you today.


 

Dr. Sohaib :

The allergic reactions due to penicillin vary in severity from very mild to very serious symptoms.

Dr. Sohaib :

One can have only transient rash, itching, or swelling around the eyes.

Dr. Sohaib :

On the other hand a person can develop acute anaphylaxis, laryngeal edema, and respiratory arrest.

Dr. Sohaib :

There is no test to predict how one would respond to the drug.

Dr. Sohaib :

Therefore, the drug sensitivity test is always done in the hospital settings so that if any severe reaction occurs, it is managed and treated effectively and in time.

Dr. Sohaib :

Therefore, do not attempt this yourself at home. It can be dangerous and can lead to serious complications.

Customer:

Hello, thankyou. In that case, why is the drug prescribed to people not having been tested, people on the drug for the first time? Would it be dangerous to do so?

Customer:

Should penicillin be stopped even in the case of very mild rashes and itching or can these mild reactions be tolerated?

Customer:

Also, is there usually a drug they administer in hospital to reverse the reaction or would they just monitor and treat the reaction? Such as assisting with breathing if necessary?

Dr. Sohaib :

Usually the drugs prescribed with out testing are in the oral form (which reduce the chances of severe reactions due to metabolism and slow absorption from the stomach/intestine). For drugs given through IV (intravenous) route, which is usually done in hospital/clinical settings, the drug sensitivity test is always performed by the health care providers.

Dr. Sohaib :

No, if the allergic reaction is there, the drug is preferably not used.

Dr. Sohaib :

And yes, there are various drugs to reverse the reactions such as steroids, anti-histamines, and adrenaline etc, depending upon the severity of reaction.

Customer:

OK thankyou. The last question I have is that I have been on keflex for the past week (20 tablets in total) but now stopped. If my skin infection does not go away, can I resume the course and take perhaps only enough tablets to treat the infection without going through 20 tablets again. So, I might resume after 4 days break and take 6 or 10 tablets and then stop taking it.

Dr. Sohaib :

If you did not have allergic reaction to Keflex, you are least likely to have the reaction in future as well. But the antibiotics are usually not taken in such a manner (giving breaks and taking again) because it can lead to resistance amongst the micro-organisms against the drug). If Keflex did not help in the past, you would probably need other suitable antibiotic to treat your condition.

Customer:

OK thankyou.

Dr. Sohaib :

I hope this clarifies and answers you.


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