People take medication for different health conditions and treatments every day. Every person reacts to medications differently. While some of them are fine with it, some may develop allergic reactions to certain medications. Generally, medications cause side effects, but there is only a 5 to 10% chance of having an allergic reaction to drugs. Developing allergies to certain medications can be mild, but they can also endanger your life. There are also some who don’t develop an allergic reaction to medication until they have taken it several times. It is important that you know if you have drug allergies so you can take proper management and treatment.
Common medications that can trigger allergies include, but are not limited to, penicillin and other antibiotics that contain sulfonamides, anticonvulsant medicines, Aspirin, ibuprofen, and other NSAIDs, and some chemotherapy drugs. Drug allergies can be hard to diagnose since most of its symptoms, such as asthma and rashes, are similar to the symptoms of other health conditions.
Symptoms of Drug Allergies:
- Angioedema or swelling of tissues under the skin such as the tongue, throat, nose, and lips
- Throat tightness
- Trouble breathing
Anaphylaxis is a very serious symptom of drug allergy. It can happen so suddenly and can be fatal as it can cause shock and heart failure.
If you suspect that you are allergic to a certain drug, you need to make sure that your doctors know about it. That way, your doctor can make the necessary changes to your treatment plan and avoid medications that can trigger your allergy. Your doctor may also ask you questions that will help them diagnose the cause of your allergic reaction and how to treat it. The following questions may be asked:
- What are the medications, vitamins, or food supplements you currently take?
- How long have you been taking them?
- What are the symptoms you experienced and when did it start showing?
- How long did the symptoms last?
- What did you do to relieve the symptoms?
Your physician may require you for a skin or blood test to check on delayed yet potentially severe reactions. Once your doctor has diagnosed the drug that causes your allergic reaction, they may recommend alternative medications for your health conditions. An oral drug challenge might be needed too, wherein medical personnel will supervise as you take your medication and observe you for any undesirable reactions.
You can also wear an emergency alert bracelet or necklace that is designed to identify allergic reactions. Drug desensitization is also another treatment plan that a patient may undergo, especially if there are no better alternatives to the medication that you are allergic to. The process involves giving you an increasing dosage of the medication until such time that your body can tolerate it and the side effects have reduced. Drug desensitization should only be done at the hospital with your doctor’s supervision.
When it comes to treatment for drug allergies, the best thing to do is to avoid it. Once you find out that you are allergic to that certain medication, do not take it and tell your doctor right away so you will have proper and immediate treatment.