What to Do In Case You Think You Have an Allergy to a Certain Medication

Certain medications cause adverse reactions in drug sensitive people but not everyone responds in the same way. Reactions can range from mild such as skin rashes to serious such as anaphylaxis, so it's very important to consult a qualified medical profession if you suspect you have a drug allergy problem.

Medication Allergy Risk Factors

Medication allergy is a condition that occurs when a person's immune system develops an abnormal reaction to a drug. The chances of developing this condition are higher if the patient frequently takes the drug or when the medication is rubbed against the skin or is administered via injection. The same drug may have a severe reaction in one person yet not cause any reactions at all in another. Common medications that cause drug allergies include antibiotics such as penicillin, anti convulsants, NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and aspirin. Chemotherapy and mono clonal antibody therapy can also trigger allergy reactions in sensitive patients.

Mild to Life Threatening Symptoms

Common symptoms for drug allergy include the onset of skin rashes, itching, contact dermatitis at site of rubbing, hives, breathing problems and facial swelling. Antibiotics can cause diarrhea, aspirin allergy can cause upset stomach and chemotherapy is associated with vomiting as well as hair loss. Anaphylaxis is the most severe and potentially life threatening reaction that involves several body systems. Symptoms for this include swelling, hives, low BP and anaphylactic shock. Anaphylaxis is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Making Correct Diagnosis

Due to the complexity of drug compositions and individual body reactions to drugs, it is very difficult to develop scientific tests for accurately diagnosing drug allergy. A trained allergist will take into consideration several factors including past history of medication allergy problems, symptoms description, when symptoms began, how long the patient experiences them and information of any other drug being taken to diagnose the problem and arrive at a tailor made plan of action for protection against any future episodes.

Tailored Treatment Plan

For patients who develop adverse reactions, a doctor can prescribe an alternative drug. For immediate symptom reversal, a doctor may prescribe anti histamines, corticosteroids or epinephrine (in case of anaphylaxis). In case the medication is absolutely essential for the patient and there is no other alternative, the doctor may recommend a desensitization or toleration procedure under which the patient will be administered gradually increasing dosages of the medication till the therapeutic dose is achieved. This procedure may take one to two days or more and is always done in a medical facility under strict medical supervision.

Where to Find Information

Patients who suspect they have a drug allergy or have side effects they are worried about can consult a qualified allergist for diagnosis and look up European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology's website for comprehensive, accurate information on drug allergy. EAACI is an internationally acknowledged non-government organization doing sterling work in research and spreading awareness on a vast array of allergy related topics.

Don't live in the dark - enlighten yourself with scientific information and know exactly what you're dealing with and learn how to best cope with your condition!

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