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4 Facts About Drug Allergies You Need to Know

4 Facts About Drug Allergies You Need to Know

What would happen if a stranger entered your house one day, without any warning? How would you react?


  • If he was causing you harm, you would immediately ask him to leave or call for help to throw him out.
  • If not causing harm, you would still perhaps ask him to leave and inform all your family members to beware of him, the next time he came.
  • If the person was friendly, you would consider letting him visit again and enjoy your time with him.

Simply explained, that is how a Drug Allergy works. Any drug is a foreign substance to your body. Based on your immune system’s composition, it will accept some drugs and reject others. When your body starts the process of rejection, you get a Drug Allergy.

How Do I Know I Have a Drug Allergy?

While the most common symptoms are similar to some allergies, you will be advised to get it checked with your doctor. Each person’s body composition is different and therefore they react differently. You could be allergic to any format of medicine – a Pill, an Ointment or an Injectable liquid. The time it takes for the allergy to manifest varies for each person. Some react right away (1 to 2 hours) while others might take the drug a few times before the immune system presents a reaction.

Another important fact you need to know is that a drug Allergy is not the same as a drug’s Side effect. Side effects are expected, often noted on the drug label. 


What Are Some Symptoms of Drug Allergies?

The most common symptoms of drug allergies are Skin-based (itching, rash, hives, puffing) and Bronchial (coughing, sneezing, congestion, swelling in mouth or throat). Some people can also exhibit symptoms like dizziness, stomach upsets or nausea.

A severe but rarer effect is Anaphylaxis, a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction that can impact more than one organ system. Anaphylactic shocks will require immediate medical intervention.  

What Drugs Should I Avoid?

You can also have allergies to a ‘family’ of drugs. This means that and if you are allergic to a particular drug, then there is a chance you might be allergic to other drugs that share common ingredients. Make it a point to ask your doctor if you need a test-dose to check for allergies whenever you start a new prescription. You might sometimes not have the time to get a range of extensive allergy tests. Ask your doctor if you are eligible for a consolidated allergy test.

Here are some of the drugs which can lead to allergic reactions:

  1. Penicillin: Most common drug allergy.
  2. Antibiotics: Your body might accept one antibiotic and completely reject another
  3. Seizure medication: Barbiturates can trigger allergies, and they are commonly found in many seizure medications.
  4. Insulin.
  5. Sulfa drugs: Any drug that contains ‘Sulfonamide’, which could even be antibiotics.
  6. Iodine-based drugs: Betadine, X-ray contrast dyes. 

What Should You Do If You Have An Allergic Reaction?


Always inform any doctor you consult if you suffer from any allergies especially if you tend to have allergic reactions. It is a good idea to wear a medical bracelet with information about your allergies for emergency situations.

In case of a reaction, visit your doctor and you will be given one of the following treatments:

  1. Antihistamines: For milder symptoms (rash, hives, itching).
  2. Bronchodilators: For all bronchial(respiratory) symptoms like wheezing, coughing, sneezing).
  3. Corticosteroids: These are applied to the skin, given by mouth or given through a vein (intravenously).
  4. Epinephrine:  Given as an injection during anaphylactic shocks. 
Medanta Medical Team
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