Antibiotic Medication Allergy

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

An antibiotic medication allergy is a harmful, unexpected reaction to an antibiotic. You can have a reaction within an hour, or the reaction can happen days or weeks later.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

  • After you have an allergic reaction to an antibiotic, you may always be allergic to that antibiotic. A severe allergy may cause trouble breathing or damage to your internal organs. Some symptoms, such as skin problems, could cause permanent damage. An antibiotic allergic reaction can be life-threatening.

  • The medicines used to treat an allergy may have side effects. For example, steroids may cause another infection. Desensitization treatment may make your allergy worse. You may have a severe reaction to desensitization treatment. The desensitization treatment will need to be stopped.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

An IV

is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

You may need extra oxygen

if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.

Vital signs:

Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.

Medicines:

  • Epinephrine: This medicine increases your blood pressure and reduces your allergy reaction. It may also relax some of your muscles so you can breathe better.

  • Antihistamine: This medicine may be given to help decrease itching and improve other symptoms, such as swelling. This medicine may be given as an injection, by mouth, or as a skin lotion. This medicine may make you sleepy.

  • Steroids: This medicine may be given to decrease inflammation.

Blood tests:

You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.

Desensitization:

Desensitization may be done after you have a reaction, if you need to be treated with the antibiotic again. This is a controlled way to get your body used to the medicine. Your caregiver will start by giving you very small doses of the antibiotic over a few hours, even if you have a mild allergic reaction. Your caregiver will treat any allergic reaction that you have. The dose is increased a little at a time until the full dose is reached and the medicine stops causing an allergic reaction. After desensitization, you will have to take a dose of the antibiotic every day to keep your body desensitized. Ask your caregiver for more information about desensitization.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Antibiotic Medication Allergy (Inpatient Care)

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