Drug Allergy

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Update Date 12/05/2020 . 2 mins read
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A drug allergy is a condition in which your immune system overreacts to medications. Any kind of medications can induce allergic reactions.

What is a drug allergy?

The first time you take the medication, you may not notice anything wrong. But, your immune system may be silently producing antibodies against that drug. The next time that drug enters your system, the antibodies will make your white blood cells release histamine. It is responsible for your allergy symptoms. Common medications that can induce drug allergies are:

Medications for seizures

  • Insulin
  • Iodine
  • Antibiotics, such as Penicillin
  • Sulfa drugs
  • Aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Monoclonal antibody therapy
  • Chemotherapy

Side effects of a drug cannot be considered allergic reactions. For example, aspirin may cause hives or trigger an asthma attack without involving the immune system.

Symptoms of drug allergies

Most drug allergies cause skin rashes and hives, which may appear right away or hours after being administered the drug.

Common symptoms of a drug allergy include:

  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Rashes
  • Swellings
  • Wheezing

Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • Stomachache
  • Confusion
  • Abnormal bowels movement
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hoarseness
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid pulse and heart rate

How to diagnose drug allergies?

Your doctor needs to know about your medical history and the severity of your symptoms for a thorough diagnosis. If you are allergic to an antibiotic (penicillin, for example), he may request skin testing to confirm it. Unfortunately, skin testing does not work for all cases. Sometimes, a skin test may be dangerous if extreme reactions to a certain drug. In that case. your doctor will simply cross that medicine off your treatment plan. Allergy test is not necessary if there are other drug options.

What are the treatments?

Medications are often prescribed to relieve the allergic reactions. For example,  antihistamine and topical treatments to ease the skin discomfort. If the allergy results in restricted airways, you will need bronchodilators to fix that. If you exhibit anaphylaxis symptoms, you will need an epinephrine shot to subside the symptoms first. Then, you must seek emergency medical care, even if the symptoms have disappeared completely.

In most cases, if you are found allergic to a drug, the only necessary thing to do is eliminate it from your prescription. However, if nothing else can treat your condition, you will need a process called drug desensitization. It is a form of immunotherapy. In this process, you will get shots of tiny amounts of the drug you are allergic to. The doses will be increased over time to help your body build a tolerance.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnose or treatment.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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