Drug Allergy

Allergy Group Drug Allergy

What Is A Drug Allergy?

Adverse reactions to medications are common, yet everyone responds differently. One person may develop a rash or other reactions when taking a certain medication, while another person on the same drug may have no adverse reaction at all. A true allergic reaction occurs when the immune system overreacts to a harmless substance, in this case a medication, which triggers an allergic reaction, for example in penicillin allergy.

Common Drug Allergies

Certain medications are more likely to produce allergic reactions than others. The most common are:

  • Antibiotics, such as penicillin
  • Aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Monoclonal antibody therapy
  • Chemotherapy

In some cases, it is not the drug itself but an an added ingredient that is the cause of the allergy.  Examples are gelatin in measles vaccine, egg in influenza vaccine, carrageenan as in excipient in some pills, and rarely artificial colorings such as tartrazine.

Testing For Drug Allergy

Allergy testing can be very useful to determine if someone is truly allergic to a drug when the history is not clear because more than one drug was involved, or if the event occurred many years ago in childhood.

If a person was diagnosed as possibly allergic to penicillin due to a vague rash in childhood, the diagnosis remains for life unless proven otherwise. This creates a problem for the person’s physician, whose choice of antibiotics becomes limited. Patients are often referred to us for this reason.

Penicillin testing is commonly done in our office and is accurate and predictive. Skin testing is standardized and can be done in one appointment.  For other drugs, testing can also be done but may not be as accurate. In these situation, we may perform a careful oral challenge in the office.  A report can then be sent to the primary physician who will then know which antibiotic can be safely prescribed.

The Allergy Group NJ offices in Manalapan, NJ and Holmdel, NJ provide treatment for drug allergy.  For more information on Treatment for Drug Allergy at Allergy Group NJ – Holmdel, call 732-739-0660 or for Treatment for Drug Allergy in Manalapan, call 732-303-9101.