Have you ever taken a drug, and after a short time you notice a cracked and red skin, as well as swollen lips, eyes, tongue, and face? These symptoms are as a result of drug allergies. With an allergic reaction, your immune system, which fights infection and disease, reacts to the drug you consume.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, drug allergies account for about 5 to 10 percent of negative drug reactions people experience. It’s important to know what drug allergies are because a lot of people often confuse them for side effects.
What is a Drug Allergy?
A drug allergy is the abnormal reaction of your immune system to a medication. Prescription, over-the-counter, and even herbal drugs are all capable of inducing a drug allergy.
Sometimes, a drug allergy may occur within a few hours after taking a medication. Other times, it may occur days or weeks later.
Certain drugs are more likely to cause allergic reactions than others. Sulfa drugs, Anticonvulsants, Aspirin and Antibiotics such as Penicillin are some of the most common drugs that come with allergic reactions.
Your chances of coming down with an allergy are higher when you take a drug frequently or when you rub it on the skin or inject it into your body, rather than consume it by mouth.
What is the Difference between Drug Allergies and Side Effects?
The difference between a drug allergy and a side effect is that the former involves your immune system, but it plays no role in the latter. Side effects are basically the consequence of how a drug works.
You may experience an allergic reaction the first time you take a drug or it may build up over time. Skin rash, hives, swollen lips, tongue, eyes, and face are some of the most common symptoms of drug allergies.
Causes of Drug Allergies
A drug allergy is experienced when your immune system mistakenly identifies a drug as a harmful substance, such as a virus or bacterium.
Once your immune system considers a drug to be harmful, it forms an antibody specific to that drug. This can happen the first time you take a drug, or much later.
The next time you take that drug, the antibodies flag the drug and direct immune system attacks on the substance. This leads to the symptoms associated with an allergic reaction you usually notice after taking a drug.
Contact your doctor if symptoms persists