Drug Allergy

  • Medical Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

View 10 Common Allergy Triggers Slideshow Pictures

What is a drug allergy?

Allergic reactions are the hyper immune response of our immune system to foreign (antigenic) substances. When certain foreign substances are introduced to the body the immune system is triggered. A hyper immune response may result in the symptoms of allergies. Medications are foreign substances and some of their components trigger the immune system.

What are the symptoms of drug allergy?

Drug allergic reactions are similar to allergic reactions resulting from food and other substances that we ingest. An individual's genetic make-up helps determine what they are allergic to and the severity of their allergies. Allergic reactions can be mild or deadly. Mild reactions include itching, rash, and hives. More serious reactions involve swelling of lips, tongue, and difficulty breathing that can lead to death.

Allergic reactions are different from common side effects of many drugs such as a headache or stomach upset.

What drugs are people most allergic to?

Any drug or a component in a drug can case an allergic reaction. Penicillin and related drugs, sulfa drugs, insulin, and iodine commonly cause allergic reactions. Sometimes it is a component or substances used for packaging or administering the drug that causes the allergy. Components of drugs that commonly cause allergies include dyes, egg proteins, and peanuts. Latex in the packaging of drugs commonly causes allergic reactions.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/9/2015
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