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penicillin allergy warning

Feb 09, 2008 - 10 comments

I came on this site in the hope I can share some information on penicillin allergy. For a number of years I suffered from fixed drug eruptions that were finally diagnosed at Harborview Hospital in Seattle, Washington. I am extremely sensitive to penicillin and sulfa drugs. It was a great relief to know once and for all so I could avoid these medicines. But that didn't end my problems.

What the doctors failed to warn me about was that there is enough penicillin in some commercial meat and dairy products to cause a reaction in some people. So I continued to suffer occasional reactions, albeit milder ones than the original. Finally on Christmas after eating turkey I had a fairly severe reaction that lasted almost six months. I immediately put two plus two together and realized I was dosing myself with these drug by eating certain foods.

I called the USDA office in Olympia, WA and they came up the next day and collected samples of the turkey and bought additional same brand turkeys from the store were mine came from. They explained to me this was a growing problem and that as people get older more and more people get sensitive to these drugs in food.

The turkey came from a plant in Idaho. If it had come from California it would have been free of antibiotics because states have different regulations governing antibiotics in meat.

After that I avoided commercial meat and dairy products and farm raised fish religiously and for six year was free of drug reactions. Finally, here in Honolulu I feel off the wagon an ate some foods I shouldn't have. Sure enough another fixed drug reaction.


My symptoms include a severe rash, and acute chemical induced anxiety. These reactions are systemic affecting the entire body and most efforts to treat the symptoms with other drugs fail or make things worse.

TREATMENT SUGGESTIONS: If you can tolerate antihistamines they help some but don't address the other chemicals being released into your body. Steroids are also problematic. What I have finally found seems to have some success is to go on a liquid diet as soon as the reaction starts. Avoid solid foods for several days. Drink lots of fruit juices, and electrolyte enhanced water. Take large quantities of vitamin C and a herbal supplement for allergies including herbs that show anti-inflammatory properties.

It seems that there is something about the digestion process or the body's metabolic process that is involved in these reactions and that by slowing down this process the body's reaction to the drug can be slowed down. This is just a theory on my part - I'm not a doctor.

DOCTORS: Please warn youR patients who have penicillin and sulfa allergy to avoid foods that my contain traces of these drugs. DERMATOLOGISTS: Please note that these allergies are more than skin deep. They are dangerous. The chemicals released by the body during these reactions have among other things neurotoxic affects.  

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Avatar universal
by allergyconspiracy431, Sep 19, 2010
I think your post saved my husbands life.  He is 44 and has known he has had an allergy to  penicillin since he was 3 years old.  When he was 25 he started haveing terrible allergic reacitions swelling of body parts and hives ect. They came and went.  We had him stop eating everything, but meat and dairy.  We had no idea meat was injected with penicillin.   We went to doctor after doctor emergency room after emergency room , allergy test after allergy test for years until I came accross your post.  This is it, and I am 100% sure. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your post.  My boys and I thought we were going to lose him from this.  My big question is why when the doctors knew he was allergic to penicillin did they not warn him from staying away from tainted meat and dairy?

Avatar universal
by Cedarbeam, Sep 20, 2010
In addition to commercial meat and dairy products and farm-raised fish there also needs to be added a warning about honey. Bees hives are often treated with antibiotics so that is another important source of exposure. It took me many years to realize this since I infrequently ate honey. But in Hawaii I was consuming lots of honey with my Asi bowls, a thick smoothy-like fruit dish. Puzzled by an unexplained drug reaction which really freaked me out I could only think of one thing it might be - honey. I googled "honey, antibiotics" and bingo. Not even organic honey is safe since the bees pick up antibiotics used on tree crops. Any other thoughts on possible sources of exposure to these drugs would be appreciated. I have had  no problems in many years now so I think I've got it figured out pretty well. I eat largely vegetarian and organic. Some organic chicken and wild seafood. I've had no problems with organic chicken so far so the farmers are being true to their word. But it does make me nervous sometimes. Warning to organic farmers: We are the canary in the coal mine.

Avatar universal
by Rsm61, Feb 07, 2014
I have severe allergic reactions to penicillin and just had a bad reaction after eating some ham bought at Foodtown in Tipp City Ohio. This is the first time this has ever happened to me from food, but it is the same reaction I get from direct contact with Penicillin.

Avatar universal
by sickOfCompaniesAndTheirGreed, Apr 10, 2014
I have the same allergies except for me they are life threatening. My throat and face swells up and I get welts all over my body. I ate some chicken the other night and BAM. Not only do I suffer the allergic reaction but it gave me a fever (102.5F degrees) for a few hours. One thing I did notice is that there was a mild smell of eggs in the meat. I don't think the meat was bad because it's texture was what you would expect. Where bad meat usually has a noticeable slime covering it. We went grocery shopping last night and I inspected all of the meats we bought and sure enough every package had this mild egg/sulfer odor. From lunch meats to chicken to beef. From now on I think I will return any meats that have this odor to the store. It should be illegal to treat livestock in this manner. After all people eat it. It costs me $150 at the emergency room which is the only place I can get relief because of the large doses required to settle my reaction. I don't know what it is they give me but every time they bring out a tray with 6 large cylinders of medicine and they administer it as quickly as they can through an IV. I also have to carry emergency injections with me at all times.

Avatar universal
by BellaMahri, Sep 25, 2014
My TRUE EXPERIENCE: (Tina Dare/Bella Mahri)
Last year I was on 400mg of Celebrex for my arthritis, but it still wasn't working too well. I was hurting my back and knees easily and had to wear knee braces regularly.  
In the Spring of 2013 I gave up eating red meat and pork.  It took until this summer (2014) to feel the effects.  
I am no longer on any prescriptions of any type!  I, occasionally, take one Aleve a day but that is it.  
Even though I've done lots of yard work this summer (which I couldn't do last summer because of my knees and back), I haven't used my knee braces at all and my back feels much better.
I am allergic to penicillin.
I looked up what antibiotics are given to livestock and found there were as many as five different derivatives of penicillin given on a regular basis.  
I am convinced this is what was inflaming my arthritis!

Avatar universal
by Morenob, Nov 07, 2016
Not sure if this is related but 8 years ago I went to hospital for impetigo skin infection and they gave me antibiotics to treat it, it went away but soon after I suddenly became allergic to milk products without knowing it for 2 and a half years always getting skin rashes at night, I highly suspect it where the penicillin antibiotics given to me that made me allergic to diary products.

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by fugo04, Feb 20, 2017
I had a serious reaction to blue cheese before but this time I could not breathe after eating Jarlsberg cheese from Norway, I think it is time they start putting warning labels.

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by Sass7656, Mar 08, 2017
Mine started with eggs, I gave up eggs for 4 years but my symptoms still lingered, hives, anxiety, insomnia, constipation, heartburn. Drs had me on 10 pills a day. I was a walking zombie who had gained 35 pounds. I gave up eggs and it was better. I had my second baby who I could not breast feed she would just scream because it turns out due to my allergic reaction passing to her through my milk. I went on a cleanse with no dairy and I felt much better. So I gave up dairy and I lost 35 pounds. Then I still noticed I would have flare ups. Chicken was next, I took that out and again I felt a bit better, the red meat and lastly pork. I only eat wild fish so I have not had a reaction to fish or shellfish. I am going to go get tested for a penicillin allergy next week. I had just narrowed it down to something fed to or given to animals. I have been eating vegan alternatives and seafood for the last month and I feel so much better. 10 specialists and no one helped me, I had to figure it out myself. Both my daughters have the same issues I do and it is so unfair to be given poison in our food. To see your babies sick and screaming when you are just giving them whole foods, they probably would have felt better if I had given them junk! My kids are on organic goats milk, it seems fine. My allergies are so severe I stay away from almost all animal products now. They say in Canada there are no antibiotics in milk but I can feel it!

Avatar universal
by scrablet, Mar 17, 2017
I really do sympathise with everyone, as I am hyper-allergic to penicillin myself, but no-one told me what foods to avoid.  I've learned by my own senses.  I cannot tolerate Pork cooking, it makes me vomit, and I've never eaten it.  Blue cheese gives me bad stomach cramps (I found out from a Scientist I did some work for, that Penicillin is grown from the same culture).  Fish carry Penicillin too. Now hugging someone who has been using an antibiotic cream on an exposed patch of skin will give me a nasty rash, and even breathing in the spores from anything remotely mouldy upsets me.  My worst reactions come from being bitten by mosquitoes who have transferred penicillin from another person bitten before me.  My eyes and lips swell up so much that I can barely drink let alone eat or see.  I look more like the 'Elephant Man'.  Which is upsetting for a reasonably attractive female.  I take an antihistermine called 'Telfast', the maximum strength ones at bedtime to relieve any symptoms I encounter, and it works.  Everyone thinks I'm just a fussy eater as they do not realise that in fact Penicillin intake could be fatal for me.  It doesn't actually help if I choose a vegetarian option on a menu, as it will probably have fish or blue cheese in it. So it gets a bit tiresome explaining why I am a so-called 'fussy' eater.  My advice would be go by your instincts, anything that doesn't look or smell right to you, don't eat it.  Don't visit sulphur areas around the world which are usually tourists attractions, I last about 5 minutes before vommiting.

I too have had problems with 'Pizza Hut' pizzas.

If you do need an antibiotic for any reason, take tetracyclin, avoid amoxicillin like the plague.  Far better to drink cranberry juice or take cranberry tablets if you suffer from cystitis.

Finally, if you have trouble explaining to anyone why you're not eating something, tell them to watch Episode one, Series one of a series called 'Body of Proof'  then they'll understand why. Watch it yourself and see who can just poison you even innocently.

I really hope that this helps some of you.

Avatar universal
by Sam___, Feb 03, 2018
I have been horrified to find out just how little food producers care about penicillin allergy.
As a child I was treated with it after an operation and became allergic during the course. Now I get a wheeze and sore itchy rash that shows mostly on my face and leaves the skin peeling. If I touch dried bulbs in a garden centre I go bright red and start to wheeze. I have the same trouble with house dust. Cheese is the worst as so many types are either cultured with the various strains of it or have been sprayed with it to halt the culture process being used to flavour other cheeses.
The mother of one dermatologist I was sent to had had come to the UK for the first time and bought a cheese baguette to eat on the train on her way from the airport. She went into shock, the train had to be stopped, and she nearly died. Even the dermatologist didn't know there was penicillin in cheese! The crust on Brie and other coated cheeses are just as powerful as the content!

Nut allergies are recognised and foods are labelled accordingly and yet far more people are allergic to penicillin. Is the reason for this that big business cheese culture and sale is financially lucrative and the recipes are a closely guarded secret?

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