Penicillin: am I really allergic? - September 2011 eNewsletter
AAMGRC eNewsletter
September 2011

Penicillin: am I really allergic?

Did you know that most people who think they are allergic to penicillin, are really not?

In fact, it is estimated that only about 10 to 20% of people who believe they are penicillin-allergic are, in fact, allergic.

As physicians, we so often hear from patients that they have been told they have a penicillin allergy, because their “mom said they had some kind of a reaction to a penicillin medication when they were young”. The result of this is that the individual has had to avoid penicillin antibiotics all their life.  In some cases, more expensive or even less effective antibiotics have been prescribed for their infections.

Many times reactions to penicillin are labeled as an allergy to the medication when it was really due to some other cause, like the infection itself for which the antibiotic was given, or some other non-penicillin medication being given at the same time. Also, medications can cause adverse side effects due to mechanisms other than allergy. Even if the reaction was truly an allergic one, some people can “outgrow” their penicillin allergy over time. Penicillin allergy is not always a life-long problem.

The good news is that true penicillin allergy can be diagnosed, and identified with a medical evaluation and testing. The test for penicillin allergy involves the following:

  • A small amount of penicillin is injected into the skin of your forearm or back.
  • If you're allergic to the particular substance being tested, you develop a red, raised bump or reaction.

If the skin tests to penicillin are negative, your doctor may choose to give you a “penicillin challenge” in the office, under observation. This helps prove for sure that a person is not at risk for any severe, immediate reaction to the penicillin medication. If the skin test to penicillin is positive, most likely your doctor will recommend that you continue to avoid penicillin and related antibiotics.

So, people do not need to go around not knowing for sure if they are allergic to penicillin because of some vague past medical history that only their parents remember. A simple 1-day visit to any of the AAMGRC allergy providers will go a long ways in helping clarify matters.  

September 16th

Our office will close at 3:30 pm on Friday, September 16, 2011.  The last allergy injection will be at 2:30 pm.

Flu vaccine is here
The influenza vaccine is here. We have both the regular seasonal flu vaccine (for patients ages 3 and up) and the thimerisol free, also known as mercury free or preservative free (for children under the age of 3 and pregnant women).
For HMO patients and non-patients (aka family members) the cost is $30, for the thimerisol free the cost is $35. Some PPO insurances may cover the vaccine, however, you may be financially responsible, for more information contact your insurance company.
You can come in to get either vaccine during injection room hours which are 
Mon - Fri, 8:30-11:30am - 1:00-4:30pm, no appointment necessary*:

*If you or your child are egg allergic, please call our office and speak with a receptionist to schedule a visit for evaluation and administration of the flu vaccine. 

Join us on Saturday, November 5th for the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) walk at DeAnza Cove in Mission Bay. 
Click to join our team The Oral Food Challengers or to make a donation. For more informaion please visit the FAAN Walk website.

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San Diego, Ca 92123
(858) 292-1144 Clinic
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