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What is Drug Allergy?

The adverse reaction to certain medications due to the overreaction of the immune system is termed as a drug allergy. Most of the people do not show any reaction at all while some people react to the medications that they take producing hives or rashes all over the body.

Drug allergy can sometimes even produce life-threatening reactions known as anaphylaxis; however most of the times, the reaction is mild producing skin symptoms with or without fever.

Certain medicines are more likely to produce such reactions when taken. They are:

  • Antibiotics like penicillin
  • Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Drugs used for chemotherapy
  • Drugs are given for convulsions
  • Medicines used for the patients having HIV/AIDS.
  • Medicines used for autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.


Symptoms of Drug Allergy

The symptoms of drug allergy may occur within few minutes to hours, or they may develop slowly after few days. The common drug allergy symptoms are:

  • Skin rash
  • Hives
  • Itching all over the body
  • Fever
  • Puffiness or swelling of the face
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Itching and watering of eyes
  • Running nose
  • Sneezing

Symptoms of anaphylaxis due to drug allergy are:

  • Swelling of the face
  • Hives
  • Fever
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Difficulty in breathing due to tightening in the throat or in the airways
  • Nausea
  • Pain in the abdomen (cramps)
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Seizures

Multiple systems are involved in the anaphylactic reaction due to a drug allergy. Severe cases of anaphylactic reactions can go into a shock and it can be fatal. The person should be immediately given an emergency care if he goes into anaphylaxis.


Causes of Drug Allergy

Drug allergy is the reaction of the body against certain medications which develops when the body identifies the drug as a harmful substance and produces antibodies against it when the drug is taken for the first time.

These antibodies remain in the body and attack the drug, considering it as a harmful substance the next time when the patient takes it. This reaction of antibodies with the drug produces a release of certain chemicals in the body which gives rise to signs and symptoms.


Diagnosis of Drug Allergy

A thorough physical examination of the patient is to be done.

The patient is then asked some questions like:

  • About the onset of his symptoms
  • The time of taking the medicine
  • Any improvement or worsening of symptoms after taking the medicine
  • Family history of drug allergies or any other allergies
  • History of any other allergies like food allergy in the patient.

After eliciting full history from the patient, he’s then subjected to certain tests that are necessary to confirm the diagnosis of drug allergy. The tests that are done are:

Skin prick test

In this test, small amounts of the suspected allergy causing drug is applied over the skin of the forearm or on the upper back. A small prick is made on the skin where the drug is applied so that the drug goes in the skin. If the person is allergic to the drug, he will experience slight redness, itching or a raised bump on the skin where the drug was applied. This is considered as a positive reaction and it is confirmed that the person is allergic to that particular drug.

Blood test

These are done to rule out any other disease which can produce similar signs and symptoms.


Self help

  • The patient should immediately stop the medication that he is taking if he suspects any drug allergy.
  • He/she should immediately opt for emergency medical care if the symptoms are severe.
  • The patient should tell the doctor clearly about his allergies to any medications before taking it so that an alternative medicine can be prescribed for him.


Homoeopathic Management of Drug Allergy

Homoeopathic Medicines will control the person’s sensitivity to certain drugs, boost the immune system, control the signs and symptom and reduce the severity of the condition. the inflammation and irritation will be kept under control.

Apis Mellifica

  • treats the hives or urticarial rash due to allergic reactions.
  • violent itching with burning and stinging sensations
  • relieved by cold applications.
  • The skin is sensitive to touch.
  • > in open
  • < covering, warmth

Arsenic album

  • Thin, watery, excoriating discharge
  • Sneezing without relief
  • worse in the open air; better indoors.
  • Burning and bleeding
  • Air-passages constricted. Asthma worse midnight.
  • Burning in the chest. Suffocative catarrh.
  • A cough worse after midnight; worse lying on back.
  • Expectoration scanty, frothy.
  • < night > warmth
  • Thirst: Sip by sip
  • Chilly Patient
  • Mid Day Mid night aggravation

 Natrum Mur

  • nasal and skin allergies.
  • running nose with sneezing and breathing difficulties
  • in skin allergies, it is used mainly when excessive itching is present
  • gets worse in a warm room and better in open air.
  • Craving for salt.


  • all those cases of skin allergy where excessive itching with an extreme burning
  • Skin usually remains dry. The patient scratches the skin and gets relief.
  • aversion to bathing,
  • unhealthy dirty looking skin,
  • craving for sweets
  • Hot Patient


  • Itching at point of nose. Dry, hard crusts form, bleeding when loosened.
  • Nasal bones sensitive. Sneezing in morning. Obstructed and loss of smell.
  • Pricking as of a pin in the tonsil. Parotid glands swollen.
  • Stinging pain on swallowing.
  • A cough with expectoration in a day, bloody or purulent. A violent cough when lying down, with thick, yellow lumpy expectoration
  • Worse, new moon, in morning, from washing, during menses, uncovering, lying down, damp, lying on, left the side, cold.
  • Better, warmth, wrapping up head, summer; in wet or humid weather.

Rhus Tox

  • Sneezing; coryza from getting wet.
  • Throat Sore, with swollen glands. Sticking pain on swallowing. Dry, teasing cough from midnight until morning
  • Skin Red, swollen; itching intensely. Vesicles, herpes; urticaria; pemphigus; erysipelas;
  • Worse, during sleep, cold, wet rainy weather and after rain; at night, during rest, drenching, when lying on back or right side.
  • Better, warm, dry weather, motion; walking, change of position, rubbing, warm applications, from stretching out limbs.


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