Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Drug allergy treatment generally involves stopping the medication. You may also need medications to ease symptoms or, in the case of a serious reaction, emergency care.

  • Minor reactions such as rashes or hives may improve with an over-the-counter antihistamine such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl, others). Call your doctor before using over-the-counter medications to make sure you're getting the treatment you need.
  • Serious reactions may require treatment with oral or injected corticosteroids at the hospital. Seek emergency treatment if you have severe rashes or hives, swelling, shortness of breath, dizziness, or other signs or symptoms of a severe reaction.
  • Anaphylaxis is an emergency requiring an immediate epinephrine injection and hospital care to maintain blood pressure and support breathing. If you've already had a serious allergic drug reaction, ask your doctor whether you need to carry an epinephrine injection (EpiPen, EpiPen Jr, Twinject).

Desensitization

In some cases, sensitivity to a drug can be reduced by starting with a tiny dose and gradually increasing it over time. This is done with medical supervision at a doctor's office, hospital or allergy clinic. In general, this is done only when you're allergic to a drug and a satisfactory alternative isn't available.

Oct. 14, 2011