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Drug Allergy

A drug allergy is the abnormal reaction of your immune system to a medication. Any medication — over-the-counter, prescription or herbal supplement can cause an allergic reaction. 


Drugs commonly linked to allergies include:

  • Antibiotics, such as penicillin

  • Pain-relievers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and naproxen sodium (Aleve)

  • Chemotherapy drugs for treating cancer

  • Medications for autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis

Symptoms include:

  • Skin rash

  • Hives

  • Itching

  • Fever

  • Swelling

  • Shortness of breath, wheezing

  • Runny nose, itchy, watery eyes

  • Anaphylaxis - a rare, life-threatening reaction to a drug allergy


Signs and symptoms of a serious drug allergy often occur within an hour after taking a drug. Other reactions, particularly rashes, can occur hours, days or weeks later.



If you have a drug allergy, the best prevention is to avoid the problem drug. 

Steps you can take to protect yourself include the following:

Inform health care workers. Be sure that your drug allergy is clearly identified in your medical records. Wear a medical alert bracelet that identifies your drug allergy.



Dr. Offengenden provides evaluation for penicillin allergy in her office.

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