Sinus and Allergy Center of Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists of Wisconsin

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Locations in Appleton, Berlin, Chilton, Menasha, Neenah and Oshkosh

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Penicillin Allergy: Do you really have it?

Looking for allergy and sinus care tips? Our doctors and staff share the latest developments in our blog.

Every day, those of us in health care see patients who think, or were told, they have a Penicillin allergy. Once your chart has Penicillin listed as an allergy, it takes an act of congress to have it removed. It is set in stone. Most people who are told they have a penicillin allergy simply accept this as a fact and are treated with alternative antibiotics. But often these alternative antibiotics are considered “broad spectrum” meaning they kill a wider variety of bacteria. This over reliance on broad spectrum antibiotics is creating a serious health concern in the country. Bacterial resistance is on the rise and, as bacteria develop resistance to these broad spectrum antibiotics, we are running out antibiotic options with which to treat patients.

So, what if you are not allergic to penicillin? Is it possible that you can take this class of antibiotics without a problem and this potentially dangerous part of your medical record is wrong?

Consider these facts:

  • 90% of people who are considered “penicillin allergic” are actually able to tolerate penicillin just fine
  • If someone did have a reaction to penicillin, 50% will be able to tolerate penicillin within 5 years, 90% in 10 years.
  • Most rashes in kids who are taking penicillin or amoxicillin are from a virus, and are wrongly attributed to antibiotics.
  • Even if you are allergic to penicillin, you may be able to take one of its relatives without problem.

The truth is, millions of people are taking alternative antibiotics that are either suboptimal, or very expensive, when penicillin or one of its related antibiotics would be ideal. This is especially true in the treatment of sinus and ear disease.

What can be done?

Our staff Allergist/Immunologist, Dr. Chris Mjaanes, specializes in treating people with a variety of allergy issues, including those diagnosed with supposed penicillin allergy. Dr. Mjaanes  has helped hundreds of people add this vital class of antibiotics back to their arsenal of treatment for various infections.

If you or a loved one think, or have been told,  you have a penicillin allergy, call our office at 920-969-1768and schedule an evaluation with Dr. Mjaanes. It may help you tremendously in your future health decisions, and could possibly save your life.


Robert Prehn, M.D.