Allergies are a common complaint of adults and children across Atlanta. Most people are familiar with the types of allergies that affect significant numbers of people, but drug allergies are less well-known. While drug allergies are rare, they can be severe and potentially restrict important medication options. First, let’s look at what a drug allergy actually is.
What Is A Drug Allergy?
A drug allergy is an overreaction by the immune system to the presence of a certain type of medication. The immune system aims to respond to viruses and bacteria to protect your body from attack. However, allergies occur when the immune system treats harmless substances as threats.
What Are the Causes of a Drug Allergy?
The cause of a drug allergy is primarily the attempt by your immune system to tackle a perceived threat. The presence of foreign proteins in the medication leads to the development of antibodies. Subsequently, when the drug next enters the bloodstream, the antibodies release chemicals to fight off what is regarded as a threat. These chemicals cause the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Is It a Drug Allergy or Side Effect?
It’s important to note that a drug allergy is more rare than experiencing possible side effects from taking a medication. What might feel like an allergic reaction is more commonly one of the effects listed on the drug packaging. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to determine whether you are experiencing an allergic reaction or a side effect. This is why getting allergy tested by your allergy doctor is important – it will provide accurate results.
What Are the Symptoms of a Drug Allergy?
Skin issues are a common symptom of a drug allergy. You will usually experience a skin complaint shortly after taking the medication, but the symptoms could be delayed for hours.
Skin issues include the following:
- Skin rash
Here are other symptoms of a drug allergy that can cause general discomfort and pain:
- Shortness of breath
- Stomach pains
Unfortunately, it is also possible to experience severe reactions to drugs. Anaphylaxis is rare, but could potentially be life-threatening. The symptoms of anaphylaxis are as follows:
- Rapid pulse
- Severe difficulty breathing
Treating anaphylaxis requires immediate action. An epinephrine auto-injector should be carried by anyone at risk from a severe allergic reaction. After a drug allergy diagnosis, your allergist can discuss whether this is necessary. In some cases, your allergist may recommend stopping the medication that causes the allergic reaction.
Alternately, you could go through a process of drug desensitization that introduces the drug in small, gradually increasing doses. Antihistamines and corticosteroids are also common treatment options.
We Can Treat Your Drug Allergy
If you are experiencing allergic reactions to drugs, food, pollen and other substances, help is available. Dr. Chacko diagnoses and treats allergies from locations in Alpharetta, Atlanta, Canton, Cumming, Duluth and Johns Creek. To make an appointment, call (678) 668-4688 or request help online.