font size

Drug Allergies (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

How is a drug allergy diagnosed?

Most times drug allergies are identified based on the time proximity of the reaction to administration of the drug and patient history. If the drug is stopped and the symptoms also stop then the logical conclusion is that the drug caused the allergic reaction. Skin testing can also be used to verify that the drug is causing the allergy. If it is a drug that the patient needs and there are no other alternatives, careful skin testing can be done to determine if the person is truly allergic to the drug.

What is the treatment for a drug allergy?

The first step is to stop the suspect drug. For skin reactions such as rashes and itching antihistamine creams (for example Benadryl) or steroid creams (for example, hydrocortisone) are used. Oral antihistamines and steroids are used for more bothersome symptoms. Injections of antihistamines and or steroids are given for serious allergic reactions. For life threatening anaphylactic reactions which involve difficulty breathing, epinephrine is given usually subcutaneously.

In situations where a drug is needed and there are no alternatives an allergist can attempt to desensitize the individual by gradually giving very small amounts of the drug and increasing the amount over a time.

What should I do if I have an allergic reaction to a drug?

Contact your doctor if you develop a rash, itching, hives or any symptom related to drug allergy. If your Lip or tongue swells or you have shortness of breath go the emergency room immediately; do not drive yourself, call 911.

REFERENCES: Rare-Allergic Drug Reactions.

UpToDate. Drug allergy: Classification and clinical features.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/7/2013

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Drug Allergy - Symptoms Question: Describe your symptoms associated with drug allergies.
Drug Allergy - Diagnosis Question: What types of tests or exams did you receive before being diagnosed with a drug allergy?
Drug Allergy - Treatment Question: What kinds of treatment, including medications, did you receive for your drug allergy?
Drug Allergy - Preparedness Question: If you have a known drug allergy, how are you prepared to handle an emergency or possible exposure?
Drug Allergy - Drugs Question: What drug(s) are you allergic to?

Allergies & Asthma

Improve treatments & prevent attacks.

Use Pill Finder Find it Now See Interactions

Pill Identifier on RxList

  • quick, easy,
    pill identification

Find a Local Pharmacy

  • including 24 hour, pharmacies

Interaction Checker

  • Check potential drug interactions
Search the Medical Dictionary for Health Definitions & Medical Abbreviations