To their detriment, millions falsely think they are allergic to penicillin

Abbie Roth, a managing editor for Nationwide Children's Hospital publications in Columbus, Ohio, notes that more than 29 million people nationwide unnecessarily avoid taking penicillin antibiotics because they believe they are allergic. Although 10% of people in the United States report penicillin allergy, 90% are not actually allergic, CDC says.

Abbie Roth, a managing editor for Nationwide Children's Hospital publications in Columbus, Ohio, notes that more than 29 million people nationwide unnecessarily avoid taking penicillin antibiotics because they believe they are allergic. Although 10% of people in the United States report penicillin allergy, 90% are not actually allergic, CDC says. Some people may get a rash toward the end of a course of antibiotics, but it is most likely a adverse event of the medication or symptom of the disease rather than a true allergy. Once a penicillin allergy gets listed in a person's electronic health record, it can be difficult to find someone willing to remove it. Moreover, if a narrow-spectrum antibiotic such as penicillin cannot be taken, patients usually are prescribed a broad-spectrum antibiotic that is typically costlier, has more adverse events, may be less effective, and could contribute to antibiotic resistance. CDC estimates that at least 23,000 people in the United States die of a resistant infection annually. People who believe they are allergic to penicillin antibiotics should consult a physician to determine if they are truly allergic, which will enhance their health care and help curb antibiotic resistance.