Drug allergy is a situation in which the immune system reacts to a drug as if it were an extraneous substance, starting to produce antibodies in an attempt to combat and eliminate this harmful substance for the organism, causing the emergence of some symptoms such as comezón, ojos rojos y lagrimeo, as well as hinchazón del rostro or mareos, for example.
This type of allergy is also known as a hypersensitivity reaction to drugs, and the symptoms can appear minutes after drug administration, whether topical, oral, injected or intravenous.
It is important that, in the presence of signs and symptoms that indicate a possible drug allergy, the person goes to the nearest hospital, so that an evaluation is carried out and the necessary measures are taken, due to which in some cases the reaction of the system immune can be very intense and put life in danger.
Symptoms of drug allergy may appear within a few minutes after the administration of the drug by inhalation or intravenously, or it may take around 1 hour to appear in the case of drugs administered orally.
The severity of the symptoms varies according to the sensitivity of the immune system. The mildest symptoms of drug allergy are:
- Composition and growth in a region of the skin or throughout the body;
- Fever above 38ºC;
- Runny nose;
- Red eyes, lagrimeo and hinchazón;
- Difficulty opening eyes.
On the other hand, some people may have a greater sensitivity to certain medications, resulting in a more intense response of the immune system, which can lead to anaphylaxis, that is, a severe allergic reaction that can put the person’s life at risk. The most serious symptoms that can arise from allergy to a drug are:
- Hinchazón de la lengua or de la throat;
- Difficulty breathing;
- Feeling of faintness;
- mental confusion;
- Increased heart rate.
In the presence of signs and symptoms of severe allergic reaction, it is essential to take the person to the hospital so that measures are adopted that help to reduce the response of the immune system and alleviate the symptoms, promoting the quality of life.
Drug allergy can be identified from the evaluation, by the general practitioner or allergist, from the clinical history of the person, the drugs used and the symptoms presented.
An allergy test can also be carried out, which consists of applying a drop of some medications to the skin to see if there is any reaction to the different medications. If there is no reaction in the site after a few days, it is considered that the person is not allergic to this medication. On the other hand, if you notice any symptoms, it is considered that the person has an allergy and should avoid the use of this medication.
This problem, in addition to indicating whether the person is allergic or not to a drug, is also useful to identify other drugs that can be used in place of the one that causes the allergy. See how to get rid of allergies.
In some cases, when the person has informed of the appearance of more serious symptoms, it may not be indicated to carry out the allergy test, which could trigger a more intense immune response. In this case, the diagnosis is usually carried out only by taking into account the person’s health history and the use of medicines.
The main drugs that cause drug allergy are:
- antibioticssuch as erythromycin, tetracycline, penicillin and derivatives, such as amoxicillin and ampicillin;
- anticonvulsantssuch as carbamazepine, lamotrigine or phenytoin;
- Insulin of animal origin;
- iodine contrast for X-ray examinations;
- Aspirin and anti-inflammatories non-steroidal, such as ibuprofen or naproxen;
- painkillers, like la dipirona, mainly;
- Oncological drugs;
- Medicines against HIVsuch as nevirapine or abacavir;
- Muscle relaxers to anesthetizesuch as atracurium, succinylcholine or vecuronium bromide.
It is important that the drug responsible for the allergy is identified, since in this way it is possible to avoid its use and to avoid the development of symptoms.
It is important to follow the doctor’s instructions, which may vary depending on the severity of symptoms. If there is a mild or moderate allergic reaction, the person may be advised to take an antihistamine, such as hydroxyzine in tablet, as long as they are not allergic to that drug.
In addition, if the eyes are reddened and swollen, a cold saline solution can be placed in the region, which helps to reduce swelling and discomfort. If there are no signs of improvement after 1 hour or if more serious symptoms appear, you should go to the emergency room.
In the case of more severe symptoms, it is necessary to call an ambulance or take the person immediately to the hospital, and it may be difficult to breathe due to inflammation of the throat and tongue, which can be put at risk for life. from the person. While you are still in the ambulance, you can start the first aids with the administration of antihistamines, corticosteroids or bronchodilator drugs, to facilitate breathing.
In the case of an anaphylactic reaction, it may be necessary to administer an injection of adrenaline and the patient must be hospitalized for a few hours so that his vital signs are constantly evaluated, avoiding complications. In general, it is not necessary to stay in the hospital and the patient is discharged either promptly or when the symptoms disappear.
See what are the first aids for anaphylactic shock.
Is it possible to prevent allergy?
The only way to avoid an allergy to a particular drug is not to use this drug. When the person has previously developed symptoms of allergy to a particular drug, it is important to inform doctors, nurses and dentists before starting any type of treatment, in order to avoid complications.
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