Mobil Genetic Elements -- Viruses and Plasmids

ID #1427

I was wondering why people are allergic to penicillin?

Anytime you introduce something into your body that wasn't made by *your* body, your immune system is going to react to it. Sometimes that reaction is minor, and other times it's not so minor. This is the case with drug allergies. You're putting something into your body that is supposed to help, but for about 10% of the people who take penicillin and related drugs, their immune system "overreacts" to the drug in an attempt to clear it from the body. This can lead to rashes or hives at the minimum to anaphlactic shock, which can be fatal. It's important to recognize that it's the *over* reaction that's the problem, not the reaction -- the reason you need to keep taking more of the drug is that even in people who don't have an allergic reaction, their immune systems are hard at work to remove this "foreign" molecule. The majority of the people given the drug just do so without the flare-ups or other reactions.

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