Superbugs are being fuelled by imaginary penicillin allergies


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/03/08/fleming-considered-helpful.html


#2

I wish the article said something about why people might think they were allergic. Family history? Previous experiences? Something else?

I say that I am allergic because the last time I took a -cillin I broke out in hives from head to toe. However, I’d gladly take a skin test if it was possible that the reaction was not necessarily allergic.


#3

So…

Self-declared, anecdotally diagnosed, medication reactions might benefit from verification by qualified medical personnel :grey_question:

Anti-vaxxers take note.


#4

I can’t take but a few antibiotics, due to medically confirmed anaphylaxis.

It really, truly sucks. Imagine every time you get an ear or throat or some other minor infection you’re told “just wait it out” and see if it gets better, since the doctors don’t want to give out a script for ANY of the remaining antibiotics out of an abundance of caution.


#5

Well deserved caution, my friend: many of those 3rd and 4th line meds can damage you.


#6

I have a few friends who claim to be among the 'cillin allergic. From discussions the reason is, they were sick as children and were given penicillin became sick(er?) and thus the penicillin was the cause and NOTHING ELSE COULD HAVE CAUSED IT (“It” being some half remembered malady.)
Fast forward to adulthood and these people deny that their Family Dr. might have have some expertise in medicine, refusing their advice, or aid. Meanwhile full swallowing (figuratively and literally) anything handed to them by a local Iridologist .

Le Sigh

  • Follow up -
    I do not mean to imply actual allergic response don’t exist. Merely to relay anecdote from my personal experiences. Allowing that the individuals mentioned MAY have allergies as claimed, no credible evidence exists while the claim itself is held out as a beacon of personal exceptionalism, and are proud of their being different and denying the expertise of so called smart people like doctors.

#7

This is the reaction I had, about 15 years ago. I get interrogated every time I mention the penicillin allergy to a new doctor, but as soon as I describe this reaction and mention the steroids I needed to clear it up, the response is always, “Okay, we’re not going to push our luck. Don’t ever take that again.” I’d love to get tested, but even my allergist wouldn’t touch it for fear of anaphylaxis upon my next exposure.


#8

I wonder if there might be people claiming to be allergic in hopes of getting new, improved antibiotics.


#9

A couple of decades ago I was given penicillin, developed a rash that may or may not have been connected to that - but the doctor thought it prudent to switch me so something else. Now whenever I’m asked about allergies I have to say “well, I might be allergic to penicillin, we never did find out…”

So I probably should actually get tested for allergy, is what it looks like.


#10

I had to be hospitalized for an allergic reaction (swelling face/throat) while taking penicillin, but eventually penicillin allergy was ruled out. My doc and I speculated that it might have been a response to a probiotic instead. I never got tested specifically for penicillin (long story, dumb allergist) but I know possible to get tested.


#11

I can think of any number of reasons. It is probably hard to identify a cause in each particular case, since normally those things are detected/determined early in childhood. But it could be symptoms of whatever they were taking the antibiotic for, coincidental allergy to something else in the environment or food at the same time, reaction to a non-active ingredient in the drug they took as a child, a family history that was never tested or confirmed, or just imagined. It is also the case for childhood environmental allergies (I don’t know if penicillin allergy is similar) often go away or lessen in severity in adulthood, so it is even possible that some of these people had allergic reactions as children but do not have them now.


#12

…and yet they’ll vote for Trump, who wants to cut back medical research and deny vaccines do anything worthwhile.


#13

Does it require being tested at an allergist, or can a regular family doctor do this test? I was told long ago I was allergic to penicillin and have always shared that with doctors, but if I’m not I’d love to get tested for it (as long as it’s covered; I’m all for doing the right thing for the common good, but not if it’s going to cost me $500 out of pocket just to find out if I really am allergic).


#14

maybe because “smart people like doctors” are not suggesting the simple solution of an allergy test. I very much doubt that the majority of people who think themselves allergic to penicillin wouldn’t take up an offer of an allergy test.

Wow, that is a whole lot of assumptions in there. Not sure if you are a medical professional, but if this is the attitude with which a clinician approaches his / her patients than that is scary. Being ill, being scared of your mortality and fearing / not wanting to have an anaphylactic shock is not some kind of vain personal exceptionalism, but at the heart of the human condition. It’s just good old fear of death. And helping to manage that innate anxiety is at the core of a physician’s job.

p.s. It is also important to note that the study described here is looking at people who are already hospitalised which means a) that they are already very unwell and the bacterial infection for which they are getting the penicillin is likely the least of their problems and b) that if they have an inadvertent allergic reaction they can be treated quickly and effectively.


#15

Perhaps, however if you will excuse me for not relating entire histories of conversations with my friends regarding these matters and allow this additional. They tend to refuse all knowledge from these people unless it supports their self narrative, tests and other procedures that might reveal the truth are refused. As I mentioned in my edit, these are anecdotes from personal experiences. I meant it as personal example of how these things can manifest.

Sorry for any confusion, I did mean only to be talking about my friends so it would not be a “whole lot of assumption”. These are my friends I’m talking about. People who I love and care for. I’ve had the opportunity to know them for a long time. In many conversations, the opportunity for one to exclaim how a Dr has failed them was jumped on, but on further discussion it came down to not listening, choosing to not follow up on tests or test results, not actually TELLING the Dr what the symptoms were or ignoring the results when they wen’t what the individual had decided was the issue already. I’m not a medical professional.

I did not comment on the people from the study, only my friends and yes they are my friends, despite my dismay at their lack of critical thinking or other personality traits, (none of us are prefect, myself included.)

Again, sorry for any confusion I’ve caused. I do not mean to malign people who may or may not have allergies, or may be concerned or afraid about being tested. This was my experience with my friends who claim to be exceptional, but actively refuse/deny evidence otherwise while a pseudo-scientific practice as iridology validates their personal narrative that they are specially sick. I’ll have to try harder to make myself clearer in the future. Thank you for the opportunity to clarify.


#16

Thanks for clarifying. It sounds like your friends haven’t managed to build a trusting relationship with a medical professional and that is not a good place to be in.


#17

I was sent to an allergist for the test by my primary care physician. As I understand it, the test is very time-consuming: I was told it would take at least half the day.


#18

I wonder what unexpected effects are coming out of all those customers I’ve had who were allergic to things like crunchy, food that has been browned, onions but not those onions, hot food, cold food, cooked food, “asian”, and the like.


#19

But them telling us that is part of the conspiracy man!


#20

Indeed.[quote=“davide405, post:3, topic:96591”]
Self-declared, anecdotally diagnosed, medication reactions might benefit from verification by qualified medical personnel
[/quote]
Apart from the medication thing, coeliacs could have told us about that for all the gluten “allergies” out there. Pictures Medical certificate or it didn’t happen, whether it’s penicillin, gluten or quite a number of other things.