Allergic to Penicillin? Maybe Not.

Since I deal with dental infections on a daily basis, I need various tools to help deal with these potentially life threatening issues. That’s right, life threatening. Before there were antibiotics, which was not that long ago, people died from oral infections and abscessed teeth. The infection got into their bloodstream and spread throughout their body. If it reached the heart or the lungs, it could trigger events which were fatal. Even not hitting those organs could create a condition of sepsis in the body that led to the patient’s demise. With modern medicine, there are very few infections which will not respond to antibiotics. This is very helpful in dentistry as we can alleviate pain and swelling with the use of a pill. Because teeth are so unique, we often times require some other intervention as the antibiotic alone will not do the job.

All of that being said, our most common antibiotic will be penicillin and it’s cousins, such as Amoxicillin and Augmentin. These work best on those bacteria that cause dental infections. Many of my patients say that they are allergic to penicillin and I need to go another route and avoid the penicillin. Many times, when I question the patient, it appears that they do not have a real allergic reaction, which in itself can be very serious.

This issue was discussed recently by David Lang, MD, Chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Allergy and Immunology and reported in a recent Cleveland Clinic article. He claimed penicillin was the most frequent allergy reported by his patients. He was concerned that false reporting could endanger patients who had limited the options of their doctor.

The percentage of people who report allergies is thought to be far, far higher than the percentage who actually have allergies. There are many authentic signs to watch for, however, including…

Some people wrongly believe they are allergic because they attributed their symptoms to the wrong source. Many conditions can produce the symptoms listed above, but that doesn’t mean that an allergy is present. Side effects of medicines can also be remarkably similar to allergy symptoms.

Even in cases where you are truly allergic, for the vast majority of people this will go away as the years go by. I am now advising all of my patients who state that they are allergic to penicillin to see an allergist and get skin tested. It is easy and simple to do. Most of my patients come back extremely grateful to find out that they are negative to the allergy test. This is really crucial in oral infections. You are now able to get the most appropriate and efficient drug for your problem.

End of the year cleanings and exams are filling up fast. When you come in for your cleaning and checkup, let’s review your current medications and make sure that it is accurate. Being precise in these areas can make a huge impact when we prescribe a course of treatment for you. Lastly, we just finished Veteran’s day. From now till the end of November, we are offering free exams and x-rays to all of those who fought for our country and helped preserve our freedom. We are also offering special reductions on teeth cleaning. Call me at 440.951.7856 to schedule your visit.

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