What are the Most Common Uses for a Penicillin Shot?

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  • Written By: Amanda R. Bell
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 17 January 2019
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A penicillin shot can be used to treat numerous bacterial infections depending on the individual bacteria strain's resistance to this antibiotic shot. It can be used to treat strep throat, syphilis, and infections caused by dog bites. It can also treat some forms of bacterial pneumonia and bacterial meningitis.

Streptococcus, the bacteria that causes strep throat, can be killed with a penicillin shot. Strep throat is caused by a bacterial infection in the throat and tonsils. Left untreated, it can spread to the lungs, thereby causing severe coughing, chest pain, and difficulty breathing. A shot of penicillin can typically clear the infection within 72 hours, significantly reducing the incubation period, and helping patients recover much more quickly than the alternative round of oral amoxicillin treatment. The shot prevents the bacteria from growing; as bacteria needs to grow in order to stay alive, it is quickly killed by the antibiotic.


A penicillin shot into a large muscle is also the most common treatment for the sexually transmitted disease (STD) syphilis. If the infection is less than a year old, only one antibiotic shot is needed to kill the bacteria. If it is older, a penicillin shot once a week for three weeks typically cures the patient. When left untreated, syphilis can damage major organs and cause dementia, paralysis, and eventually death. A shot of penicillin in the early stages of the infection is the best way to prevent this damage; any damage that occurs prior to treatment will not be affected.

Penicillin is considered a broad spectrum antibiotic, meaning it can eliminate numerous strands of bacteria with little to no harm to non-allergic patients. It is especially effective against the bacteria found in a dog's mouth, which can be transferred to a human via a bite. A penicillin shot is often given directly after a dog attack to prevent the spread of any infection that may have been contracted. The antibiotic prevents most strands of harmful bacteria from growing, thereby protecting the patient from a number of health issues.

In some cases, penicillin can be used to treat pneumonia and meningitis caused by bacterial infections. Many of the bacteria that cause pneumonia, a lung infection, and meningitis, an infection of the brain stem and spinal cord, have mutated and changed since penicillin was created. The penicillin shot, typically given via an IV, is only useful in select cases. For the bacterial strands that have not built up a resistance to this antibiotic, it is still a quick and effective means of treatment.

Penicillin was the first drug discovered with the ability to treat these conditions. Since its widespread use began in 1945, many strands of bacteria have mutated and developed a resistance to the antibiotic. Therefore, the uses of penicillin shots have significantly diminished. It is still, however, one of the most fast acting antibiotics against some very dangerous bacterial infections.


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Post 3

@ddljohn-- I don't think that penicillin shots cause side effects unless the person is allergic to penicillin. There can be a small bruise at the injection site, but that's no big deal.

I had to get a penicillin shot for strep throat once. I didn't really want it but I was glad I got it afterward. It was sick for weeks and I recovered fairly quickly after the penicillin. I think that penicillin is kind of miraculous.

Post 2

@fBoyle-- Both tablets and shots are used. The treatment is usually a course of penicillin tablets or a shot of penicillin. For example, I was given just a shot of penicillin for chlamydia.

Sometimes, tablets are given first and if the tablets are not enough to treat the infection, the doctor might switch to shots. I think a penicillin shot can be more potent because it enters the blood directly rather than going through the gastrointestinal system as tablets do. But penicillin shot side effects can sometimes be more intense than side effects from tablets.

So it's basically the doctor's call.

Post 1

Is it common to receive penicillin shots for STDs?

I know that many bacterial STDs like gonorrhea and chlamydia are treated with penicillin. But are tablets most commonly used or shots?

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