Penicillin is a common antibiotic used to treat many illnesses. When it was discovered it was considered a breakthrough in the treatment of illness and infection. It is derived from the penicillin mold, the blue-green mold found on moldy oranges. Before penicillin, common infections and diseases that are only a nuisance to us today were quite often fatal. For years penicillin was the only effective antibiotic treatment available for doctors to use. It is relatively cheap and easy to manufacture, making it the most often used antibiotic world wide.
Allergic reactions to penicillin can often be a serious and life threatening matter. They can range from annoying rashes to life threatening breathing difficulties. You might recall answering the question " are you allergic to penicillin" on a medical question form at your doctors office or upon admittance to a hospital for treatment. This is because doctors must know if you are do to the potential for catastrophic results should you be given penicillin and you are allergic to it. Knowing if they are allergic to penicillin is something every person should know. Penicillin is the most common drug allergy.
It is unclear why some people have an allergic reaction to penicillin while others don't. It is also unknown what predisposes one person with an allergy to penicillin to minor symptoms while another person allergic to it will experience life threatening symptoms. For those who are allergic to penicillin, the only treatment is not to use it. Fortunately there are other powerful antibiotics available to replace penicillin. Prior to their discovery, penicillin allergy could sometimes have grave consequences. It could leave doctors with their hands tied in treating the infection or disease.
Common symptoms of penicillin allergy are as follows. A rash or hives that can range from a minor rash to a dark red rash that covers large portions of the body. Swollen lips tongue and face, ranging from minor swelling to extreme swelling. Itchy, irritated eyes that can be bloodshot and watery. The most serious reaction happens in people that are highly allergic to penicillin. An anaphylactic reaction is a reaction that manifests itself as a swelling of the bronchial airway, making it difficult to breath. This can also be accompanied by a sudden drop in blood pressure, resulting in lightheadedness. This reaction can be deadly, so it's important to be aware of this fact.
If you are given penicillin and experience any of these symptoms, tell your doctor immediately. It's much better to be safe than sorry. The most serious reaction, the anaphylactic reaction, appears almost immediately. The other less minor reactions can take hours to appear. Treatments for the symptoms are readily available but as of yet there is no cure for the allergy itself. If your child has never been given penicillin it is imperative that you let your doctor know this. He or she can make a determination as to whether or not your child is allergic to it prior to administering a large dose of penicillin.