Getting Un-Allergic to Antibiotics

The rise of bacterial resistance isn’t the only force limiting antibiotic choices. Allergies to antibiotics have risen over the years as antibiotic use in children (and in animal agriculture) has become more common. Both of these problems can be decreased by saving antibiotics for situations where they are really needed. Even so, sometimes children become allergic to the only antibiotics that work well for their situation. Often, side effect rashes are confused with allergies, but true allergies are also real problems.

Thankfully, antibiotic desensitization treatment shows promise for reversing these allergies. When I was a child, I had successful allergy shots to desensitize me to grass allergies. Researchers at Children.s Hospital Boston, led by Dr. Stuart Turvey, reviewed their 5-year experience with antibiotic desensitization. The results were published in the April 2004 Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. A total of 57 different desensitization treatments were performed; 43 of them were successful in making those antibiotics available to the children again. For some kids, this could be a real lifesaver!

Published on: May 13, 2004
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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