Study: 28 million out of 32 million people think they’re allergic to penicillin, but they aren’t

Study: 28 million out of 32 million people think they’re allergic to penicillin, but aren’t.

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - New research released by the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that nine out of ten people that think they are allergic to penicillin, but actually aren’t allergic to the medication at all.

One allergen specialist says if more people knew the truth about their sensitivities, the way they are treated for infections could drastically change.

Studies show that 28 million out of the 32 million people claiming a Penicillin allergy, are not actually sensitive to the drug.

Dr. Thomas Murphy, an allergen specialist, says many of those people may have had a reaction as a child, so they think they are still allergic, but he says that is not the case.

“Growing out of the allergy is expected, even those people who had a serious reaction, 90% of those patients don’t have the allergy any longer,” Murphy says.

Mattie Egnezzo, of West Ashley, says that as a child she had a severe reaction to the drug that caused her to stop breathing, but now as an adult she has taken it twice with little to no problems. Even though she has taken Penicillin as she has gotten older, she says she’s still cautious when the doctors try to give it to her.

“All of my records show that I’m allergic to penicillin, so I do still mention it to them that I had a severe reaction when I was young,” Egnezzo says.

Murphy says Penicillin is the cheaper and best option for several infections, like strep, so getting tested to be sure about your medication sensitivity should be a priority.

“Nobody likes needles but it’s painless and the gains you get from being tested far outweighs short term discomfort,” Murphy says.

The process takes about two hours from start to finish but could save someone a lifetime of worry.

Most local ENT centers and allergen specialists can test for the penicillin allergy, they say you just need to make an appointment.

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