Drug Allergies

Only 5 to 10% of people have an allergic reaction to medicines, although people experience a wide variety of side effects when taking a medication. Allergic reactions can occur to either prescription medications or over-the-counter-medications, though in many cases medicines that can cause a severe allergic response are not sold without a prescription.

Note that drug allergies are different than drug interactions and drug intolerance. An interaction indicates an adverse reaction that can be caused by taking a drug with certain foods or other drugs. A drug intolerance is occurs when your body cannot properly process the drug due to genetic factors or possibly because of a resistance developed by taking the drug over time.

The most common drugs that people may be allergic to include:

  • Antibiotics – especially penicillin and its relatives
  • Insulin – especially those that come from animal sources
  • Seizure medications
  • Sulfa drugs (containing sulfonamide)
  • Drugs or substances containing iodine
  • Vaccinations (which may trigger egg allergies)

These following guidelines can help prevent allergic reactions to drugs and medicines.

Drug Allergies Guidelines

  • 1 Always tell your doctor about any previous reactions that you’ve had to specific medicines.
  • 2 If you have a severe drug allergy, wear a medical bracelet that alerts others to the issue.
  • 3 Be aware of the symptoms of allergic reaction: coughing, nausea, vomiting, headache, diarrhea, skin reactions, and trouble breathing.
  • 4 Some vaccinations, such as certain flu vaccines, may have an egg base, which can trigger an egg allergies. Also, if you are allergic to latex, ask if a latex-free vial stopper is used.

Drug Allergies Checklist

  • Consult a physician for signs of allergic reaction to medications.
  • Wear a medical alert bracelet with details about known drug allergies.
  • Tell your doctor about prior allergic reactions to drugs.
  • Carry an epinephrine auto-injector if you have an anaphylactic reaction to certain drugs.