Magical Potion for Children?
"Mom...Look at me!" shouted
4-year-old Tahira. I saw my daughter
scratching at red blotches on her face. They looked like
chicken pox, but, when I looked closely, I wasn't sure. My
throbbed-could it be scarlet fever? I felt Tahira's forehead:
But, the quarter-size blotches were as itchy as poison ivy
I took Tahira to her pediatrician,
who said that the blotches were
hives, an allergic reaction to something. "She just
Amoxicillin. She's never taken this medication before," I
said. She gave startling news:
Amoxicillin can cause allergic reactions, such
as hives. Like a magical potion, this medication had whisked
Tahira's ear infection, but it had also brought problems.
considered allergic reactions something other children got,
For this reason, I hadn't bothered her pediatrician with
obtaining the prescription. Nor had I read about the subject.
I'd been an uninformed parent.
The scariest allergic reaction is "anaphylaxis," or
allergic shock. Had
her allergy been severe, my daughter would've been in danger
her life! About 4% of children who take Amoxicillin experience
some of the symptoms, according to an FDA study. For instance,
child may be wheezing or have swollen lips. Then your child
consciousness and reach anaphylaxis. She would need an immediate
injection of adrenalin, or else shock could be fatal. To
recurrences, she would wear an identification bracelet.
Nevertheless, Amoxicillin is a popular
medication. Pediatricians recommend Amoxicillin for ear
infections, as well as tonsillitis,
pneumonia, and urinary tract infections. One out of four
taken Amoxicillin in a three-
year-period, according to the Agency for
Healthcare Research, and the trend will likely continue.
An inexpensive antibiotic, Amoxicillin
is available under various brand
names: Amoxil, Polymox, Wymox, and Trimox. Unfortunately,
about 30% of
children, up to age twelve, have some type of mild allergic
The term "allergic reaction" is easy to confuse
with "side effect" from
a medication, but a distinction exists. A symptom (such as
slight diarrhea) that causes only discomfort in your child
and that may
disappear even before your child finishes the medication
as a "side effect." A true allergic reaction, however,
is the immune
system's overreaction to the medication. An allergic child's
the microorganisms that Amoxicillin produces as foreign substances
then creates allergic antibodies to fight them.
These antibodies can cause hives to
appear. Hives are itchy " pale
that can occur in clumps and be large or small," according
to Pediatrics for Parents, Issue 10. Worst of all, scratching
can cause them to reappear. Other allergic
reactions your child may have include thrush
(oral yeast infection), severe vomiting, and watery diarrhea.
combination of allergies or one allergy can appear, soon
the first dose of Amoxicillin. Sometimes, the reaction will
Could your child be allergic to Amoxicillin?
Any child who's allergic to
penicillin needs to avoid Amoxicillin. Also, a child that
hay fever, or eczema has an increased risk of having an allergic
reaction to this antibiotic. The same situation is true
one or both
parents have any such allergies. Furthermore, if your child
disease or infectious mononucleosis, she is more likely to
to Amoxicillin. Don't hesitate to discuss concerns with the
before obtaining a prescription.
After beginning treatment, if your child shows possible allergic
reaction to Amoxicillin, she should promptly see a pediatrician
physical exam and a review of his or her medical history.
information will help in diagnosing the reaction as a true
A skin test for allergic reactions
to all penicillins is how some
pediatricians confirm if an allergy actually exists. They
use a small,
diluted amount of antibiotic to see if a reaction occurs.
Hallett, MD, an allergist with the UC Davis Medical Group,
perform a test if the child needs only penicillin and seems
to be allergic."
Once the pediatrician confirms the
reaction, he can advise on proper
treatments. Your child may require prescription medications.
will also be open to over-the-counter remedies, if they seem
appropriate. For instance, calamine lotion and a non-prescription
antihistamine may ease itchy hives.
Here's good news: other antibiotics
are now available that can replace
Amoxicillin. Cefaclor, azithromycin, and clarithromycin are
some of the
choices. These more expensive antibiotics are useful for
Some children outgrow their allergy
to Amoxicillin by the time they
finish elementary school. Although you may have to wait several
hope exists that this not-so-perfect potion will no longer
be a problem.
Syeda is a writer
in Sacramento and enjoys spending time with her
children and sewing.