Drug allergies are when the body’s immune system reacts to a specific medication by creating antibodies and causing a disease-fighting response. As with most allergies, the initial exposure to the substance triggers the immune-system to treat it as a threat in the future, and it will respond, if it is exposed to the substance again, with the production of antibodies and histamine.
Each body reacts to various forms of medication in different ways that can range from forming a rash, to no reaction at all. Every medication has the potential for side effects, as should be stated on each warning label, but only a small percentage is a result of allergies. Those reactions can range from mild and discomforting, to serious and life-threatening that tend to occur within an hour of taking the medication. Watch for hives, itching of the lips, tongue and/or face, low blood pressure or wheezing.
The last two symptoms should be considered seriously as this may be a life-threatening reaction. While general antibiotics were known to be the cause of this reaction, known as anaphylaxis, it has been found that monoclonal antibodies and chemotherapy drugs and can cause this reaction as well.
Drug allergies can also cause a sensitivity to sunlight and the development of varying degrees of rashes that range from mild to severe. Should these rashes result in blisters, which can happen on rare occasions, seek medical attention. These blisters are a sign of a more serious condition.
Not all reactions are instantaneous. Serum sickness occurs when an allergic reaction occurs seven to 21 days after the first exposure. The immune systems develops a response that causes inflammation and other alternate symptoms, such as fever, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes (throat glands), changes in urine color.
At this point, it should be noted that there are ways to diagnose drug allergies by performing a simple skin test, which tries to find reactions to penicillin and penicillin derivatives. By aligning the test results with a person’s medical history, 97% of the diagnoses are confirmed. The remaining percentages have to be diagnosed by considering the medical history alone, which an allergist is specially trained for.
In order to treat a drug allergy, it is important to stop the drug that causes the reaction. There are then different treatment options for the alternate symptoms. Hives and itching can be relieved using antihistamines, or topical corticosteroids. Coughing or wheezing symptoms can be relieved by a medication known as albuterol, which is a bronchodilator. This can be prescribed by an allergist.
Consider the professional staff at Premier Allergy & Asthma in Columbus, Ohio to take care of your testing needs. Call our office and set up an appointment.