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Drug allergy (drug allergy) is an increasingly common type of allergy. Everything incl. by unlimited access to drugs and their frequent abuse. This is especially true of antibiotics. However, these are not the only drugs that can cause drug allergy. Find out what the causes and symptoms of drug allergy are, and find out how it's diagnosed and treated!


  1. Drug allergy (drug allergy) - causes and risk factors
  2. Drug allergy (drug allergy) - symptoms
  3. Drug allergy (drug allergy) - diagnosis
  4. Drug allergy (drug allergy) - treatment

Drug allergy( drug allergy ) is a morbid reaction of the body to medications given at the normal recommended doses.Drug allergycan be caused not only by the active substance contained in the drug, but also by the so-called auxiliary substances that make up it.

How does drug allergy develop? After the first administration of the drug (either orally, enterally or intravenously), the immune system "remembers" the allergen and begins to form antibodies against it. Only after the next consumption of the drug (the second, third or tenth - it depends on the organism's sensitivity) symptoms of allergy appear.

Drug allergy must be distinguished from drug hypersensitivity in which the immune system is not involved. Therefore, with drug hypersensitivity, its symptoms may appear after the first consumption of the drug. In the case of drug allergy, it is necessary to contact the allergen, i.e. the drug, beforehand.

Drug allergy (drug allergy) - causes and risk factors

The risk of drug allergy is high in people who use several drugs at the same time, as well as in those who use a given drug / group of drugs for a long time and / or often. There is a rule that the longer and more often drugs are consumed, the greater the risk of allergy symptoms. There is also a group of serious chronic diseases that make you more likely to develop drug-induced allergies, such as AIDS and cystic fibrosis. It is worth knowing that drug allergy, like all allergies, is more common in the period of acute infectious diseases. Moreover, it may begenetically determined.

Most allergenic drugs

The most common allergenic drugs are antibiotics (usually penicillin). This may be the result not only of excessive human consumption of these drugs, but also of animals whose meat is later used for human consumption. In addition, the list of frequently allergenic drugs includes acetylsalicylic acid, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

An allergy can also be caused by drugs used for general and local anesthesia, as well as contrast agents used during examinations. Vaccines can also trigger an allergic reaction.

Drug allergy (drug allergy) - symptoms

Drug allergymay manifest itself in the so-called drug rash. This is when red spots, blemishes or blisters appear that itch. The appearance of skin lesions may resemble various infectious diseases, e.g. measles (hence another name - abdominal rash).

Drug allergy can also be in the form of hives, possibly with swelling, most commonly on the face - around the eyes or lips. These types of drug allergy symptoms are dangerous as swelling can develop in the throat and tongue, causing breathing problems and death.

Drug allergy may also include fever, muscle and joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, shortness of breath, vomiting, nausea or diarrhea.

An allergic reaction does not always start right after taking a medicine. It can occur up to one week after starting treatment.

Be sure to specify which drug sensitizes you!

When you develop a drug allergy, check with an allergist as soon as possible to find out exactly which agent sensitizes you. Otherwise, the next use of the drug may cause more severe symptoms and even lead to the so-called toxic epidermal necrolysis syndrome, which may be fatal. It is a rare but very serious drug reaction that can kill the patient. In its course, the epidermis peels off the surface of 30 percent. body, and he looks like he has burned skin. It is estimated that about 30 percent die. patients.

Drug allergy (drug allergy) - diagnosis

There are several allergy tests that can be done to find out which specific drug sensitizes: skin, provocation and blood tests. Unfortunately, the first two tests carry a risk of symptoms recurring with greater intensity, or even anaphylactic shock.

Therefore, in order to find out which drug is causing the allergy, it is safest to run a blood test. They rely on the isolation of cellsresponsible for the allergic reaction and putting them into laboratory culture. These cells are then stimulated with a specific drug. If a patient is allergic to it, they start to multiply, which can be measured by a method that uses the phenomenon of radioactivity.

Unfortunately, this method is expensive, time-consuming and particularly difficult to perform in patients who, e.g. due to chronic diseases, need to take medication regularly.

Drug allergy (drug allergy) - treatment

The allergy usually disappears after discontinuation of the sensitizing drug. However, for mild reactions, antihistamines are administered, and for more severe reactions, glucocorticosteroids. In the case of the so-called The doctor may consider administering adrenaline for drug shock.

Also read

Salicylate allergy - symptoms and treatment

Penicillin allergy - how to recognize and treat it?

Antibiogram: how to read its results?

About the authorMonika Majewska A journalist specializing in he alth issues, especially in the areas of medicine, he alth protection and he althy eating. Author of news, guides, interviews with experts and reports. Participant of the largest Polish National Medical Conference "Polish woman in Europe", organized by the "Journalists for He alth" Association, as well as specialist workshops and seminars for journalists organized by the Association.

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