Medicines could kill people with allergies

People have allergies; people tragically die from reactions to drugs; but did you know that there are over 50,000 cases a year of people reacting badly to drugs? On top of that, since 2007 there are has been a quarter of an increase in the number of people dying from such reactions – 1,300. As medicine and science progress, why are these numbers increasing?

Unfortunately, many people will not be aware that they are allergic to a particular drug, and once they have taken it they have little time to realise the true consequences. Within minutes of taking the medication, the body will begin to go through various different types of reactions depending on the severity of the allergy. Sometimes reactions will be rashes, runny noses and so on. However, in the serious cases swelling can occur and even anaphylactic shock. If anaphylactic shock occurs, this means that the body has suddenly started to release chemicals from the blood and tissues. This can cause the person to have difficulty breathing, go into a state of unconsciousness and sometimes the heart may cease to beat. Urgent medical attention is required in such cases.

Sometimes people don’t suffer an allergic reaction, but sensitivity to a particular drug. Whereas an allergic reaction occurs in the immune system with it over-reacting to the drug; sensitivity is when the drug attacks the body. Again, each person will react differently in every case, and medical attention should be sought.

As there is no means of testing to see if someone has an allergy to a drug until they have actually taken the drug, it is important they are taken with precaution. Equally, if you are aware of any sensitivities/allergies, which are of concern, then you should make people aware of these to help prevent any adverse reactions. For example, people who know they are at risk if they take a particular medicine will wear a wristband declaring this in case they are unable to communicate with doctors in other emergency situations. With over a million admissions into hospitals a year due to reactions to drugs, it is clear that either with increased drugs on the market, errors on the doctor’s behalf, or a rise in allergies and sensitivities, drugs are not just saving lives.

Friday 11th December 2009

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