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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Penicillin


These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

[posted 10/8/1999]
Question: Can penicillin that has been stored for five years be used with no problems?

Answer: Doubt it, but check with your pharmacist. Each drug has different shelf lives which I'm not aware of. Unlikely to be ok.

Penicillin V and G [posted 8/12/98]
Question: I would like to know the difference between Penicillin V and Penicillin G. Just what does the V and G actually mean?

Answer: Penicillin G (benzylpenicillin) and Penicillin V (phenoxymethyl penicillin) are similar penicillin structures. Pen G is more active against Neisseria species as well as certain anaerobes. The major advantage of Pen V is that it is more stable in an acid environment and survives better in the stomach (consequently better absorbed). Consequently the serum levels of Pen V are significantly higher than Pen G.

Penicillin/Antibiotics
Question: Why do doctors tell you not to drink milk or eat dairy products when taking Penicillin/Antibiotics? What are the consequences?

Answer: There is no contraindication to taking milk with penicillin or penicillin products.

Penicillin
Question: Is it used to treat infection after a dog bite? If not, what is the proper medication to prevent cellulitis?

Answer: Penicillin is the usual drug after dog bites since the potential bacteria in the dog's mouth which can cause infections are sensitive to penicillin(DF 2 is the usual one but there are others). Treatment of cellulitis usually uses drugs which can kill penicillin resistant bacteria like streptococcus etc. Penicillin will work about 60% of the time, but this is not sufficient. Cephalosporins are commonly used and so are combinations of drugs like Augmentin which use Amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium(to prevent the penicillin resistance). Other drugs are also effective.

Penicillin
Question: What I would like to know is what will happen if you have to take penicillin once a month? Would that hurt me to the point that it won't work again?

Answer: Intermittent dosing with small doses has the potential side effect of producing resistant bacteria to penicillin and increasing the risk of allergic reactions over time. Whether you will actually see these problems is not clear. Most individuals don't experience these problems, but that is the risk.

Penicillin - Pneumonia
Question: Is penicillin effective in treatment of pneumonia?

Answer: When it was introduced, penicillin was extremely effective in the treatment of pneumonias. However, over the last fifty years, bacteria have developed immunity and resistance to the effects of penicillin. Penicillin is still very effective in the treatment of pneumonias caused by Streptoccus Pneumoniae. However, as with most other bacterias resistance is developing in this strain as well. Generally, we do not use plain penicillin in pneumonia due to the resistance to this drug. However, we occaisionally use penicillin once the bacteria has been shown to be sensitive to the drug in the microbiology laboratory.

Penicillin V
Question: How long does penicillin v remain in the body?

Answer: Penicillin V is an antibiotic used to fight off bacterial infection. It acts by preventing bacteria from building protective walls around themselves while in the body, thereby allowing the bodyís immune defenses to eliminate them. As with any antibiotic, use of this medication should be under the supervision of a physician, and he or she can discuss with you what side effects you may need to be aware of. For Penicillin V, the typical side effect one sees is that of an allergy to the drug, which can be mild or severe. Any past reaction to a penicillin - containing antibiotic, or any form of medication for that matter, should be reported to your physician so he or she can avoid prescribing them for you. The physicianís Desk Reference does not list a specific activity time in the body for penicillin V, but the medication is rapidly cleared by the kidneys as fast as it is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract.
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