Drug allergy is an adverse physical reaction to a medication. It is important to note that there are various forms of allergic reactions to medications including immediate and delayed hypersensitivity reactions.
What are the indications?
The indications of drug allergy range from mild itchiness to dangerous conditions. Various medications can also trigger side effects or intolerance such as stomach upset. These symptoms do not always indicate an actual allergy to a specific drug.
Once an allergic reaction occurs, histamine and other chemicals can trigger these symptoms:
- Skin rash
- Swollen mouth and throat
- Itchy eyes or skin
As for serious reactions, the indications that might arise include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Drastic drop in the blood pressure
- Bluish skin
What are the usual culprits?
The usual cause of drug allergy is penicillin and other antibiotics that have similarities with the drug. Other medications that can instigate reactions include:
- Sulfa drugs
- Contrast dye
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Chemotherapy drugs
Management of drug allergy
The main objective when dealing with drug allergy is to relieve the symptoms.
- The usual symptoms such as hives, rash and itchiness can be managed using antihistamines and corticosteroids in some cases.
- For lung congestion and coughing, bronchodilators might be prescribed.
- For serious, anaphylactic symptoms such as difficulty breathing or loss of consciousness, an epinephrine shot is injected.
It is important to note that desensitization is occasionally used as a form of treatment for drug allergy, especially if there is no testing available. The technique is designed to allow the body to briefly tolerate the potential allergens while using the medication.