For instance, there are medications for diabetes and arthritis that contain sulfonamides and people do not necessarily need to avoid them just because they are allergic to sulfa antibiotics.
Still, Sulfa drugs cause common adverse drug reactions like nausea and vomiting, headache, dizziness, diarrhea, and lethargy.
NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are primarily used to reduce pain or fever. Common examples of NSAIDs are ibuprofen, mefenamic acid, aspirin, and naproxen. They are quite notorious for some common adverse drug reactions ranging from headaches and dizziness to stomach pain and ulcers.
As you will notice, many NSAIDs are over-the-counter medications, allowing people to have access to them even without a physician’s prescription. Despite being safe for most people, itis still possible for others to develop some allergic reactions to NSAIDs.
Insulin is a common drug given to diabetic patients as it helps control their blood sugar levels. However, it can cause allergic reactions, especially if it is animal-derived. If you are allergic to insulin, you may experience localized or systemic symptoms. When we say localized, it only affects certain parts of the body. When it is systemic, it affects the entire body.
Once again, you can develop adverse reactions even if your immune system is not involved. In those times, you are not experiencing allergic reactions.
Signs and Symptoms of Drug Allergy
If you have an allergy to certain medications, you may experience the symptoms within an hour after taking the drug. At times, you may experience them after a few hours, days, or even weeks later.
The most common symptoms of drug allergy are:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Skin rashes
- Runny nose
- Shortness of breath
Signs and Symptoms of Anaphylaxis
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction. Commonly, anaphylaxis reactions develop within minutes after taking the medication. Symptoms include:
- Tightening of the air passages causing difficulty breathing
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Nausea or abdominal pain
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- A drop in blood pressure
- Loss of consciousness
- Weak, rapid pulse
Allergy Symptoms You May Experience Days or Weeks After
- Nephritis or inflammation of the kidneys
- Drug-induced anemia
- Serum sickness which may show as joint pain, swelling, fever, nausea, and rashes
- DRESS or drug rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms. This shows up as rashes with high white blood cell count; it is also accompanied by swollen lymph nodes.
What to Do When You Experience Drug Allergy
If you suspect an allergic reaction and you experience mild symptoms, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Should you develop severe reactions, especially related to anaphylaxis, go to the emergency room.
Drug Allergy Treatments
The goal of drug allergy treatments is to reduce the symptoms and, if possible, prevent severe reactions. Treatments could be:
- Antihistamines for mild symptoms like hives, rashes, and itching.
- Bronchodilators to relieve asthma-like symptoms such as wheezing and coughs.
- Corticosteroids, which can be applied on the skin, given intravenously, or taken orally.
- Epinephrine to treat anaphylaxis.
Once again, common adverse drug reactions are different from allergic reactions. Allergies are caused by our immune response. Since allergic reactions are dependent on a person’s immune system, we will have no way of knowing how a person will react to a drug allergen. Although we have drug allergy treatments, avoiding drug allergen is still the best course of action.
Learn more about Allergies here.