Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.

Drug Allergy Specialist

South Bay Allergy and Asthma Group -  - Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology Specialist

South Bay Allergy and Asthma Group

Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Physicians located in San Jose, Los Gatos, Mountain View, and Redwood City

Medications are meant to help you feel better, but sometimes they can cause an allergic reaction that could make you feel a whole lot worse. If you have a drug allergy, South Bay Allergy and Asthma Group provides detailed consultations regarding adverse reactions to medications and helps find alternative drugs or ways to deal with your allergy. Call one of their convenient locations in San Jose, Los Gatos, Mountain View, and Redwood City, California, to find out more or book an appointment online.

Drug Allergy Q & A

What is a drug allergy?

A drug allergy is an adverse reaction to medications. Although medications are extremely effective and valuable treatments, most of them can also cause side effects. Some of these reactions are mild; some are more serious.

For example, you might get diarrhea after taking antibiotics, or on a more severe scale, vomiting and hair loss are common side effects of cancer-killing chemotherapy drugs. In both these cases, the benefits outweigh the unpleasant side effects.

With drug allergies, your immune system goes into overdrive and starts producing the allergic antibody IgE (immunoglobulin E), which causes the allergic response.

What are the symptoms of a drug allergy?

Typical symptoms of a drug allergy include:

  • Skin rashes
  • Itching
  • Respiratory problems
  • Swelling

A more severe reaction called anaphylaxis causes symptoms like:

  • Warmth or flushing
  • Sense of impending doom
  • Hives
  • Swollen throat
  • Wheezing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Low blood pressure
  • Loss of consciousness

In the most severe cases, anaphylaxis can lead to death. If you know you could suffer from anaphylaxis, you should carry an autoinjector containing epinephrine.

What drugs can cause an allergic reaction?

Although most drugs are capable of causing an adverse reaction, some medications are more likely to trigger allergic reactions than others. These include:

  • Antibiotics like penicillin
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Hormones
  • Neuromuscular blockers
  • Vaccines
  • Herceptin (trastuzumab) for cancer

You’re more likely to develop an allergy to drugs you take frequently. You might also have a genetic tendency to develop drug allergies.

How are drug allergies diagnosed?

South Bay Allergy and Asthma Group provides comprehensive allergy testing for many drugs. Your provider can carry out skin testing for drugs like penicillin, insulin, or certain biotechnology products, and check whether you have the IgE antibody.

You can help by recording the details of your symptoms. Note down when you took the medication, how long afterward symptoms began, and how long they lasted. You should also tell your provider about any other medications or supplements you’ve taken.

What treatments are there for drug allergies?

If your reaction to a certain drug is unpleasant, avoid taking that medication and use a different remedy instead. 

If you have a severe allergic reaction to a drug, you might need to take other medications, such as antihistamines or corticosteroids. You should also have an EpiPen® (epinephrine) for emergency situations.

In most cases, there’s an alternative to the medication causing the allergic reaction. If there’s no alternative and you have to take the medication, your provider can help by putting you on a desensitization program.

Call South Bay Allergy and Asthma Group today to find out more about drug allergies or book an appointment online.