Drug Allergy: Reduce Exposure

Reviewed by Rafeul Alam, MD, PhD

The best way to treat drug allergy is to avoid the medication. Here are a few tips to help prevent an allergic reaction to drugs:

  • Memorize trade and generic names of the medications that cause a reaction and check labeling on products you buy.

  • Make sure you tell all caregivers about your allergy.

  • Wear a med-alert bracelet or necklace describing your allergy just in case you ever need emergency care.

  • If your doctor prescribes an injectable epinephrine pen for anaphylactic reactions, remember to carry it with you.


"Treat Through" Medication Allergies

In very rare cases, it may be required to "treat through" a medication allergy in which the drug may be required despite the reaction. This can be dangerous and is only used as a last resort and in a hospital setting.

Patients may be pre-treated with steroids or antihistamines in such cases. Drug desensitization can be performed in a hospital setting where the patient is given gradually increasing doses of the medication either by mouth or by I.V. under constant monitoring until he or she can tolerate a full dose.

It is very important to remember that desensitization works only for that particular course of the medicine, so if it is discontinued, the person once again becomes allergic and needs to be desensitized each time the medicine is administered. 

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