Can Prescribed Medicines Cause Harm?

Allergies are everywhere. From bee stings to shellfish, 50 million Americans suffer from different allergies. But can medicines also be allergens? An allergic reaction happens when the immune system rejects a foreign substance. The substance, usually harmless, creates chaos in the body. And yes, add medicines to the list.

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How the body protects from medical allergens

When the body decides the prescribed medicine is foreign, antibodies work quickly to get rid of the drug. The immune system creates histamines. Histamines are bouncers for the body, kicking unwanted drugs to the curb. The consequences are itching, hives and fever; the symptoms associated with an allergic reaction.

Warning signs of medical allergies

Determining a medical allergy can be tricky. Confusing an allergic reaction with the side effect of a drug is common. The same for an overdose. Eliminating the two possibilities leaves a possible medical reaction. Medical reactions vary in children and adults. For a suspected allergy, contact a doctor immediately. Leaving the reaction unattended can have life-threatening consequences.

The next steps after an allergic reaction

Allergic reactions to medicine vary in time and severity. The reaction takes hours or days to appear. Itching, fever, rash, or hives often happen. More symptoms to look out for include swelling of the throat, short breath or nasal congestion. In extreme cases? A serious condition called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis shuts down the body, leading to shock or in rare cases, death.

The most wanted list of Drug allergens

Antibiotics like penicillin are common medical allergens. About 10% of allergies are antibiotics related. Over-the-counter medicines like aspirin also cause allergic reactions. Anaphylaxis occurs for cancer drugs and auto-immune drugs too. So how are medical reactions kept in check? Doctors prescribe antihistamines or corticosteroids to combat pesky allergies.

Be cautious of medical allergies

Medical allergies happen unexpectedly. For example, a combination of medicines could trigger a reaction or the body created antibodies for a particular ingredient in the drug years ago. To prevent severe situations, seek medical attention for out of the ordinary symptoms. More importantly, keep medical records up to date. Doctors can administer allergy-free drugs in emergency situations.


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