Sulfonamide medications (or sulfa drugs) are classified intotwo categories, and there are antibiotic and non-antibiotic sulfonamides. About3 of every 100 people treated with sulfa drugs develop an allergic reaction to themedication, and these are mostly reactions to sulfa antibiotic drugs.
When someone is diagnosed with sulfa drugs, it means thatthis person has an allergic reaction to the medication. In many cases, peoplesuffering from an allergy to penicillin drugs will be allergic to sulfonamides,too. Also, if someone suffers from health problems related to the immunesystem, he or she is more prone to develop allergy to sulfonamides as well.
Sulfamethoxazole, sulf(a)isomidine, sulfadoxine and sulfacetamideare some of the sulfa antibiotics that might cause an allergic reaction. Thereis also the possibility that a person using diuretic medications oranticonvulsants based on sulfonamides experiences allergy to the drugs. If youhave been diagnosed with sulfa allergy you should avoid these medications,unless your doctor prescribe and recommend otherwise.
Symptoms of Sulfa Allergy
People allergic to sulfa drugs in most cases experiencehives, rashes and photosensitivity. Some other common medical problems that mayarise during the use of sulfa drugs include: blood problems, such as decreaseof red and white blood cells and platelets and also liver and kidney damage. Asthe result of sulfa allergy some people are found to develop hepatitis or evenkidney failure. Breathing problems are another possibility, because sulfa drugsaffect the lungs. When a person suffers from asthma, sulfa allergy may causeworsening of their symptoms and in some cases pneumonia-like symptoms as well. Thereis one symptom, known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome, which might develop inpatients allergic to sulfa drugs, and this is very serious condition, that canbe life threatening.
Whatever the symptoms are, an allergic reaction to sulfa drugsshould always be resolved with some medical help.
Diagnosis and Treatment for Sulfa Allergies
Although skin and blood tests are useful for many allergies,sulfa drugs allergy can’t be diagnosed this way. Only doctors can diagnose thiscondition, according to the symptoms of the patient in front of them.
First course of treatment is to quit using sulfa drugs immediately.After that, doctors concentrate on the symptoms and treat them accordingly. There are patients that will be advised to continue usingsulfa drugs, if that’s in their best interest. In these cases, doctors monitorthe patient and use medication cautiously.
However, there are some cases when the person has to continueusing sulfa drugs. When that happens, doctors will desensitize the patienttowards sulfa medications, using small amounts of the drug and increasing itover a certain period of time. This way, a patient’s body will be able to tolerate sulfadrugs.