Drug Allergy

Medications can cause many types of allergic reactions, including skin rash, hives and itching. Some allergic reactions are more dangerous and are life-threatening; symptoms include:

  • mouth and tongue swelling.
  • swelling of the throat and neck.
  • difficulty breathing.
  • chest tightness.

Speak with your doctor or a pharmacist before taking any drugs, even over-the-counter medications. If your reaction is severe, wear a MedicAlert® necklace or bracelet. These are available from this registered charity at:

Box 9800, Station Don Mills
Toronto, Ontario M3C 2T9

How to treat the allergic reaction:

  • Take Benadryl┬« (plain). You do not need a prescription for this. Do NOT drive or operate heavy machinery while taking this; OR
  • Take whatever medication your doctor has prescribed for you.
  • You should not be alone for 24 hours, in case your reaction returns.
  • To help with the itch, put cool compresses on the skin or take a cool bath or bath with Aveeno┬«.
  • Do not take hot baths or showers.
  • Wear loose clothes and loose-fitting underwear.

Go to the OUCC or the Emergency Department if:

  • you have any problem breathing.
  • you have a tight feeling in your throat or chest.
  • you have any swelling of your mouth, lips or tongue.
  • you have hives, itching or swelling over all of your body.

These are signs of a medical emergency. Get immediate medical help. Dial 911 or call the operator to get help; do NOT drive a car yourself if you have these symptoms!