From treatments for painful strep throat or ear infections as a child, to burning urinary tract infections or itchy skin infections as an adult, antibiotics are one of the most highly utilized and important medication classes we have in medicine. Understanding the vast world of antibiotics and anti-infectives is no easy task. Anti-infectives are a large class of drugs that cover a broad range of infections, including fungal, viral, bacterial, and even protozoal infections. There is no one type of antibiotic that cures every infection. Antibiotics specifically treat infections caused by bacteria, such as Staph. Antibiotics do not work against any viral infection. Antibiotics are specific for the type of bacteria being treated and, in general, cannot be interchanged from one infection to another.
A history of signs and symptoms suggestive of a type I, IgE-mediated reaction urticarial, pruritic rash, angioedema, bronchospasm, hypotension, anaphylaxis is more likely to indicate a true allergic reaction. Finally, women of childbearing age who are thinking of conceiving might want to evaluate an allergy to penicillin. Common medications in this class include. Cephalosporins are bactericidal kill bacteria and work in a similar way as the penicillins. The risk of an adverse allergic reaction to a cephalosporin in a child with suspected penicillin allergy is small, although it can be significant. Side effects of antibiotics As with any medicine, antibiotics can cause side effects. Find out more about drug allergies. In infants and the elderly, in patients with kidney or liver disease, in pregnant or breastfeeding women, and in many other patient groups antibiotic doses may need to be adjusted based upon the specific characteristics of the patient, like kidney or liver function, weight, or age.
Eliminating the use of penicillin, amoxicillin and other beta-lactam antibiotics because of an allergy presents significant implications for antibiotic choice and infectious disease treatment. Amoxicillin may be the most useful oral antibiotic pediatric health care providers have to treat common infectious diseases. It has good activity toward Streptococcus pneumoniae and other common respiratory tract pathogens especially when combined with clavulanate, a beta-lactamase inhibitor. The liquid formulation has a relatively good taste, good safety profile and is inexpensive. In large part, these characteristics form the rationale supporting recommendations for its use in recently published pediatric infectious disease guidelines eg, acute otitis media, community-acquired pneumonia. Similarly, amoxicillin and penicillin remain useful antibiotics for other common infectious diseases, such as bacterial pharyngitis. Antibiotics then chosen are likely to be less effective, more costly and, perhaps, less safe. As readers of this column are aware, perhaps the most useful question to ask a caregiver or patient about a penicillin allergy is the type of reaction the patient experienced.