Physicians at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, reported February 25 that 9 out of every 10 people who believe they’re allergic to penicillin either aren’t allergic at all or have only had mild intolerance. Further, 8 out of 10 people who’ve had an allergic reaction to penicillin 10 or more years ago will likely be fine now.These physicians note that penicillin is the most commonly reported allergy, but 90 to 95 percent of these people aren’t actually allergic at all. They state the reason for this is likely due to parents mistakenly labeling intolerances of their young children as “allergies.”
“Intolerance typically refers to side effects of a medication, and medication side effects and allergies are frequently confused,” said Dr. Blanka Kaplan, director of the Drug Allergy and Desensitization Center at Northwell Health in Great Neck, New York.“Intolerance or side effects refer to an undesirable effect of the medication that isn’t mediated by the immune system. They’re frequently caused by the way medications work,” Kaplan added.
“Many people incorrectly assume that having an allergy to penicillin is carried through the family,” said Dr. Amy CaJacob, assistant professor of pediatric allergy and clinical immunology in University of Alabama Birmingham’s department of pediatrics. Despite this belief, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology states that “there is no predictable pattern to inheritance of penicillin allergy.”