Drug allergy is known as the immune system’s abnormal response to a drug, and this response may be triggered by any type of medicine, such as herbal medicines, over-the-counter medicines, and others. But it is associated with certain types more than others, for example drug allergy is more common with the medicines listed below than others:
- Antibiotics such as penicillin
- Pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen
- Cancer chemotherapy drugs
- Medicines to treat autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (1).
Severe symptoms associated with a serious allergic attack appear within an hour of taking the drug, while other symptoms such as a rash may appear hours, days or weeks later.
Symptoms may include: a rash, hives, itching, swelling, fever, shortness of breath, wheezing (a sound that accompanies narrowing of the bronchi that resembles a slight wheezing), rhinorrhea, as well as watering and itchy eyes.
Anaphylaxis is a rare and life-threatening reaction caused by an allergy to a specific drug that causes generalized dysfunction in the body’s systems. Symptoms associated with anaphylactic shock include:
- Narrowing of the airways and throat, causing difficulty breathing.
- Nausea or abdominal cramps
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- A rapid, weak pulse
- Drop in blood pressure
- Convulsions or loss of consciousness (1).
Drug allergy is an important problem, not only because of the symptoms it produces – which may range from sudden swelling in areas of the body to a drop in blood pressure that may be life threatening – but, because it may prevent the use of an effective drug to treat a specific disease as well (2).
Therefore; It is very important for a drug allergy to be correctly diagnosed by performing certain tests, including:
Skin tests: Here a small amount of the drug is applied into the skin using a very small needle that scratches the skin, or with a syringe or a patch. The reaction is positive if the application causes red swelling associated with itching.
Blood tests: The doctor may order a blood test to rule out other conditions that may present with allergy-like symptoms, as the use of blood analysis tests to diagnose allergies to certain types of drugs is usually uncommon due to limited information on their accuracy (3).
What about sensitivity to one of the Covid-19 vaccines?
The CDC advises against taking the vaccine if the patient is allergic to any of its components. For example, it is prohibited to take any mRNA vaccine, such as the Pfizer and Biontech vaccine or the Moderna company vaccine if the person has an allergy to PEG, and it is not allowed to take the Jensen vaccine if the person has an allergy to Polysorbate (4).
And the most important question, Can a person suffering from allergies not related to the components of the vaccine get this vaccine?
Of course, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention advises that people take the vaccine even if they have previously had serious allergic reactions to substances that are not related to the components of the vaccine, such as allergies to a type of food or pets, allergies to latex, environmental allergies, or even drug and other (4).
- Drug allergy – Symptoms and causes [Internet]. Mayo Clinic. 2020 [cited 23 April 2021]. Available from: Here
- Medication Allergy – Harvard Health [Internet]. Harvard Health. 2019 [cited 23 April 2021]. Available from: Here
- Drug allergy – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Mayoclinic.org. 2020 [cited 23 April 2021]. Available from: Here
- COVID-19 Vaccination – Allergies [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2021 [cited 23 April 2021]. Available from: Here