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Drug Allergy


  • A drug allergy or sensitivity happens when your body is irritated after taking a drug or medicine. When you have an allergic reaction you may get a skin rash, itching, and hives. It goes away when you stop taking the drug and the drug is out of your body. You can even become allergic to medicines or drugs that you have taken before. You cannot spread an allergy to other people.
  • Really bad allergic reactions can kill you. Your mouth and throat may get swollen and cause difficulty breathing, wheezing, tight feeling in your chest or throat. Call 911 or O (operator) for help if you have problems breathing and swallowing. This could be life threatening.


  • Medicines:
    • Keep a written list of what medicines you take and when and why you take them. Bring the list of your medicines or the pill bottles when you see your caregivers. Learn why you take each medicine. Ask your caregiver for information about your medicines. Do not take any medicines without first talking to caregivers.
    • Always take your medicine as directed by caregivers. Call your caregiver if you think your medicines are not helping or if you feel you are having side effects. Do not quit taking it until you discuss it with your caregiver. If you are taking antibiotics (an-ti-bi-ah-tiks), take them until they are all gone even if you feel better.
    • If you are taking medicine that makes you drowsy, do not drive or use heavy equipment.
  • Allergies:
    • Talk with your caregiver before taking any drugs, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and herbs.
    • After taking a new drug in your caregiver's office, always stay there for at least 15 minutes.
  • If you get hives or a rash:
    • alk with your caregiver about taking an antihistamine that you can buy over the counter.
    • Take the antihistamine until the hives are gone for 24 hours.
  • Following are ways to lessen itching.
    • Put cold compresses to the skin, or take a cool bath or oatmeal bath.
    • Do not take hot baths or showers. This will make the itching worse.
    • Wear loose fitting clothes and avoid tight underwear.
  • If you are severely allergic:
    • An adult should stay with you for 24 hours following a severe reaction in case the symptoms return.
    • Wear a medical alert bracelet that says exactly what your medicine allergy is. You may get one from the following organization:
      • Medicalert Foundation
        2323 COLORADO AVENUE
        TURLOCK , CA 95382
        Phone: 1- 209 - 6683333
        Phone: 1- 888 - 633-4298
    • Your caregiver may teach you and your family when and how to give adrenaline shots (anaphylaxis kit). Adrenaline is a medicine to help treat the life-threatening symptoms of an allergy reaction, such as throat swelling. If you have had a severe reaction before, always carry your anaphylaxis kit with you.
    • You may return to your normal activities when the allergic symptoms are gone.


  • You think you are having a reaction to a drug. Symptoms may happen as soon as 15 minutes after taking the medication.
  • Your rash, hives, or itching have not gone away.
  • You have new symptoms that you did not have before, such as a fever, upset stomach, or throwing up.


  • You have trouble breathing, wheezing, tight feeling in your chest or throat, or a swelling in your mouth. THIS IS AN EMERGENCY . Dial 911 or 0 (operator) for help. Or, have someone drive you to the nearest emergency room.
  • You have hives, swelling, or itching ALL OVER your body.

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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.