Overview on drug allergy

A drug allergy is a serious physical reaction to a certain medication. There are various forms of allergic reactions to medications including immediate and delayed hypersensitivity reactions.

  • Immediate reaction or anaphylaxis – this arises once the drug enters the body. The drug initiates an immune system response and produces precise IgE antibodies. Once the drug is taken once again, the antibodies generate significant amounts of histamine to eliminate the medication from the body.
  • Delayed reaction – in this reaction, the immune cells help fight the medication.

What are the usual culprits?

The usual trigger for drug allergy is penicillin and other drugs. The other medications that can trigger reactions include:

  • Anticonvulsants
  • Sulfa drugs
  • Contrast dyes
  • NSAIDs
  • Chemotherapy drugs
    drug allergy

    Epinephrine is given for serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing or loss of consciousness.

What are the signs?

The indications of a drug allergy ranges from minor itchiness to dangerous conditions.

During an allergic response, histamine along with other chemicals can trigger symptoms such as:

  • Skin rash
  • Hives
  • Congestion
  • Itchy eyes or skin
  • Swelling of the mouth and throat

For serious reactions, the following might be present:

  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bluish-tinged skin
  • Fainting
  • Low blood pressure

Management of drug allergy

The main issue of concern when dealing with a drug allergy is to relieve the symptoms:

  • Antihistamines and corticosteroids in some cases are given to manage the usual symptoms such as hives, rashes and itchiness
  • Bronchodilators are given for coughing and lung congestion
  • Epinephrine is given for serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing or loss of consciousness

Take note that desensitization might be utilized occasionally as treatment for drug allergy especially if testing is not available. This aims on allowing the body to briefly tolerate the drug while it is still being used.


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