Southern Allergy and Asthma PC 

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Drug Allergies

Adverse reactions to medications are common and often labeled as "drug allergies".  For example, many people think they are allergic to penicillin.  As a result, they often receive more costly antibiotics which have more adverse side effects and are more likely to develop bacterial resistance.   In reality, only about 5% to 10% of "drug" reactions are due to an allergy to the medication.  An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system overreacts to a harmless substance.   If this is the case, the medication triggers an allergic reaction which may be life threatening.   Conversely, sometimes certain drugs may produce unwanted symptoms that do not involve the immune system.  This is called an intolerance and is not life threatening.  Fortunately, in certain cases, testing can be performed which will clarify if a particular drug is a threat to the patient.