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Drug Allergies Specialist

Lev Barsky, MD -  - Allergist

Allergy Asthma & Immunology Center

Lev Barsky, MD

Allergist & Asthma Specialist located in Brooklyn, NY

Any medication, including prescription or over-the-counter, may trigger an allergic reaction. Drug allergies are common but are difficult to diagnose because they cause a wide array of symptoms. If you had an adverse reaction to a medication, the Allergy Asthma & Immunology Center, Dr. Lev Barsky, in the Brighton Beach neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York City, can help. To schedule an appointment with Lev Barsky, MD, call the office or book an appointment online today.

Drug Allergies Q&A

What are drug allergies?

Drug allergies are unusual immune system reactions to medications. Any type of medication may trigger an allergic reaction. However, medications that most often cause drug allergies include:

  • Penicillin
  • Antibiotics containing sulfonamides
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Aspirin
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) 
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Monoclonal antibody therapy

If you have a drug allergy, your immune system mistakenly identifies the drug as a foreign invader and creates antibodies against it. When you take the drug, your immune system releases the antibodies to attack the drug, triggering the release of chemicals that cause the allergic reaction. 

What are the symptoms of drug allergies?

Drug allergy symptoms usually appear within an hour of taking the medication. Common symptoms include:

  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling 
  • Runny nose
  • Allergic conjunctivitis — itchy, red, watery eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Lightheadedness

Though rare, some people with drug allergies have an anaphylactic reaction, which is a life-threatening condition that sends the body into a state of shock, causing shortness of breath, low blood pressure, and loss of consciousness. 

If you or someone you love is having an anaphylactic allergic reaction, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. 

How are drug allergies diagnosed?

Dr. Barsky conducts a thorough evaluation when you come in with concerns about a drug allergy. He asks about the medication you think is causing the allergic reaction and detailed questions about your symptoms.

He reviews your medical and family history and performs a physical exam. Depending on the suspected drug allergy, Dr. Barsky may have you undergo testing for allergies, such as a skin or blood test. However, these tests may not provide a definitive drug allergy diagnosis. 

Dr. Barsky may also suggest an oral drug challenge, having you take the drug you suspect is causing an allergic reaction while under close supervision at the office. However, he only recommends an oral drug challenge if there’s no concern you will have a severe reaction. 

How are drug allergies treated?

Avoiding the drug causing the allergic reaction is the primary treatment for a drug allergy. Dr. Barsky also talks to you about other medications to avoid and may offer alternative medications for you to use.

You need to inform all health care providers of your drug allergy and wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace in case of an emergency situation. 

Drug allergies are hard to diagnose. To get the answers you need, call Allergy Asthma & Immunology Center, Dr. Lev Barsky, or schedule a consultation online today.