For some people, a common prescription or over-the-counter drug can trigger a life-threatening reaction known as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS). If you or a close family member has had this condition, learn more about the reasons that you should seek out the services of an allergist.
Your genetic makeup influences the likelihood of developing an allergic reaction.
Genetics play a role in whether or not someone is likely to develop allergic reactions to certain things, including drugs. When someone has had allergic reactions to a certain drug, all drugs in that class may cause a similar reaction. In addition, family members of someone who has had a severe allergic reaction to a drug may also run an enhanced risk of their own allergic reaction.
While the science is still developing, doctors are looking harder into the genetic biomarkers that are associated with severe drug reactions. Your allergist may be able to start the process to determine what family members share a genetic predisposition for some allergic reactions. That can help prevent someone else in the family from suffering from the trauma of SJS.
Your allergist can help you develop alternative treatment plans.
Some of the most common medications can trigger SJS, including anticonvulsants like Lamictal, sulfa-based antibiotics, penicillin, and anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen. The problem for many patients who have suffered from SJS is that they find their options for treatment are reduced. Many doctors are reluctant to prescribe anything to them because they're afraid of triggering another attack.
An allergist can do complete allergy testing to determine what medications you can and can't be safely prescribed and work with your primary care physician to find alternative medications and treatment plans for whatever ongoing medical conditions you have.
You need training on how to recognize the condition early.
Patients who have survived SJS once have a higher risk of developing it again to another drug. That means that it's important for you to receive training from an allergist on how to recognize the early signs that your body is developing a sensitivity toward a medication or having an allergic reaction.
While the acute stage of the reaction is devastating and easy to see, the early manifestation of an attack can be as subtle as flu-like symptoms. The rash associated with SJS that later blisters and peels can start out looking like a small contact rash or a simple case of hives. Even experienced physicians can mistake SJS for something else, which means that patients need to be self-informed so that they can advocate for early care—which is crucial to surviving an SJS attack.
For more information on how an allergist can help you and your family in the aftermath of this devastating condition, talk to an allergist in your area, such as those at Ear Nose & Throat Specialties PC.