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. An 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.
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
- Monoclonal antibody therapy
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 and the history is not clear. Penicillin testing is commonly done in our office and is accurate and predictive. For other drugs, testing can be done but may require an oral challenge for accurate diagnosis. A report can then be sent to the primary physician who will then know which antibiotic can be safely prescribed.