Drug Allergies

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Please always keep in mind that Mynd Myself is NOT a diagnostic site but provides you with trustworthy information that can help you become your own best health advocate as you navigate your health journey with a Qualified Healthcare Practitioner.

According to HealthLink BC Drug Allergy happens when you have a harmful reaction to a medicine you use. Your body’s immune system fights back by setting off an allergic reaction. Most drug allergies are mild, and the symptoms go away within a few days after you stop using the medicine. But some drug allergies can be very serious.

Some drug allergies go away with time. But after you have an allergic reaction to a drug, you will probably always be allergic to that drug. You can also be allergic to other drugs that are like it.

A drug allergy is one type of harmful, or adverse, drug reaction. There are other kinds of adverse drug reactions. Symptoms and treatments of different kinds of adverse reactions vary. So your doctor or other medical Practitioners will want to find out if you have a true drug allergy or if you have another type of bad reaction that isn’t as serious.

Symptoms of Drug Allergies

The symptoms of a drug allergy can range from mild to very serious. Most of the time they appear within 1 to 72 hours. They include:

  • Hives or welts, a rash or blisters. These are the most common symptoms of drug allergies. 
  • Coughing, wheezing, a runny nose, chest pain, chest tightness, or trouble breathing.
  • A fever.
  • Serious skin conditions that makes your skin blister and peel. 
  • Anaphylaxis is the most dangerous reaction. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that affects the entire body, and symptoms include hives all over your body, trouble breathing, rapid swelling of the throat, mouth, or tongue and/or feeling very light-headed. These usually appear within one hour after you take the medicine. Without prompt emergency care, you could die.

The best thing you can do for a drug allergy is to stop taking the medicine that causes it. Talk to your doctor or other qualified medical Practitioner to see if you can take another type of medicine or there are other solutions.

How to take care of yourself at home:

  • Know which medicines you’re allergic to, and avoid taking these medicines.
  • Keep a list of all medicines you are taking.
  • Talk with your doctor, pharmacist , or other qualified Medical Practitioner about any new medicines you are prescribed. Make sure they are not similar to those that can cause a reaction.
  • Don’t use someone else’s medicines or share yours.

If you do have a mild reaction, take steps to relieve symptoms such as itching. Take cool showers, or apply cool compresses. Wear light clothing that doesn’t bother your skin. Stay away from strong soaps and detergents, which can make itching worse.

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Common Types of Drugs People are Allergic to​

  • Antibiotics including: amoxicillin (Moxatag), ampicillin, penicillins, Tetracycline).
  • Sulfa medicines.
  • Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs—used to relieve pain and fever and to reduce swelling and inflammation e.g. ibuprofen, ketoprofen, and naproxen).
  • Muscle relaxers, especially those given by IV—Atracurium, Succinylcholine, or Vecuronium).
  • Vaccines.
  • Anticonvulsants and anti-seizure drugs including: Carbamazepine (Tegretol), Lamotrigine (Lamictal), Phenytoin, etc.
  • Medicines for hyperthyroidism—having too much thyroid hormone in your body.

Explore the Research

We believe you should have access to high-quality research to help you make informed health decisions. Below are four trusted databases you can use as tools to expand your healthcare knowledge.