What are some of the signs and symptoms of a drug allergy?

Most reactions occur within one hour. The most common sign of a drug allergy is hives (urticaria). This is a skin rash which comprises of blotchy white raised patches on the skin surrounded by a red area. The rash can be extremely itchy. More severe skin reactions include blistering and peeling off of skin, and this may come with a fever.

In a condition called photoallergic drug induced photosensitivity, an itchy rash can develop on parts of the skin exposed to sunlight after you have taken the drug. It occurs 24 – 72 hours after you have taken the drug and been exposed to sunlight, and can also spread to parts of the body which are not exposed to sunlight.

Severe allergies may cause life threatening anaphylactic shock. Signs and symptoms of anaphylactic shock include a fast heart rate, difficulty breathing, sweating, distress and anxiety, or unconsciousness. Anaphylaxis is life threatening and needs urgent treatment with adrenaline.

Reactions can also occur a few days or weeks after you have taken the drug. This can cause damage to other tissues, such as the liver or kidneys. You might also notice muscle or joint pain, fever, lethargy, pain in your back or abdomen, and a change in your urine or frequency or volume or urination. You might also notice a swelling in your neck, which is due to enlarged lymph nodes. However, many of these signs and symptoms are not specific to drug allergies and may indicate something more sinister, so it is important that you see your doctor.

If you experience any of these symptoms, stop taking the medication and see your doctor, who might give you different medications.

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