Today’s theme seemed to be allergic reactions to drugs. Drug allergies aren’t” common” by any means, but I’m sure most people know at least one person who has a drug allergy. The most common drug allergy is penicillin. Other antibiotics also tend to be sources of allergic reactions. Allergies are usually discovered through trial and error. It’s important that your pharmacist be aware of any and all drug allergies you have because there are many other drugs out there that are made of similar chemicals and can cause the same reaction.

That being said, it is important to know the difference between true drug allergies and just drug intolerance. It seemed like there were multiple people today that had prescriptions filled that were listed as a possible allergen based on the drug allergies we had in their computer profiles. Upon talking to them, I would come to find that they weren’t truly allergic to the drug, so there wasn’t a problem with the medication they were trying to get filled.

So, how do you know the difference between an allergy and an intolerance? Think of it like this. Let’s say eating peanuts make you feel nauseated because they upset your stomach whenever you eat them. Would you think of this as a food allergy? Probably not because you don’t have a rash or trouble breathing after eating peanuts. You just choose to avoid them because they don’t sit well with you. How about you avoid bees because their stings hurt and are no fun. Does this mean you’re allergic to bee stings? Definitely not because you don’t need to be transported to the hospital after being stung. It’s the same thing with medications.

Here’s an example using myself…

Whenever I take tetracycline, I get very sick to my stomach. Though I avoid taking it because of its side effects, I do not have an allergy to the medication. Whenever I take Bactrim (a sulfa-based antibiotic), I break out in a weird polka dot rash. That is a true allergy and should be avoided at all costs.

It seems like no matter how many times I explain this to people, they never seem to understand what I am saying. I felt like I was talking to a brick wall today because so many people were telling me they had “allergies” to different medications when, truthfully, they did not. I still marked it in their profiles that they could not tolerate the medications so we would not dispense it, but it was frustrating to sift through what was truly an allergy and what was not.

To make a long story short, always tell your pharmacist every medication you cannot take, whether it be because of a true allergy or just an intolerance. But, besides just handing them a list of things you cannot take, tell them what happens to you if you were to take those medications. We’ll record it appropriately and make sure you stay safe.


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One thought on “Allergies

  1. tdapharm says:

    I think that is always an annoying issue. One thing that stands out is a patient with dementia who has on their history a lengthy list of drugs that they had an ‘allergy’ too. This has been an issue when they have an infection, that while empirically would require narrow therapy, due to their supposed allergy history they now need either more broad spectrum Abx or therapy not normally used. Sadly, if family isn’t around, we never find out their true history. I think to at least not brand yourself incapable of some medications it is definitely necessary to tell others your reaction to medications, whether it be a rash or anaphylaxis.

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