An allergic reaction to a medicine is an overreaction by the body's immune system to a substance (allergen) in a medicine that a person has taken. An allergic reaction to a medicine may cause symptoms that range from a minor rash to severe anaphylactic shock, depending on the person and the type and dose of the medicine.
A medicine allergy is different from an adverse medicine reaction, such as a medicine side effect or a reaction when taking more than one medicine. Because symptoms and treatments vary, a doctor should determine whether a person has a medicine allergy or an adverse reaction. A severe medicine allergy can be life-threatening. An adverse reaction usually is not.
A person who has been diagnosed with a medicine allergy should wear a medical alert bracelet or other identification and should not take that medicine again.
Last Revised: August 29, 2011
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD, MD - Family Medicine & Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine & Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology
Public health alerts include information about outbreaks, advisories and product recalls. Click on the links below to read the most recent alerts, or visit our Public Health Alerts web page.
If you are looking for health services in your community, you can use our directory to FIND hospitals, clinics, and other resources.
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.