Saturday, October 27, 2007

Drug Allergy

On Friday night, I had my first drug allergy ever. To... aspirin! Of all things.

I remembered Julia has allergy to paraceptamol.

I don't know what to do... What an interesting thing to happen to me. Half of the time, I just chuckle and can't believe it happened to me.

I knew something wasn't right when half an hour after taking aspirin, my left eye swell up but I didn't care. I should've induced vomitting but I was so tired and lazy. I thought it will all be well after I slept. Then comes the next morning.

I can't open my left eye. I can't open my left eye!! My face is swollen! Sleeping didn't help at all!

Went to see the doctor.
The clinic attendant yelped when she saw me. Called for the doctor. Both of them looked at me with urgency, Shooed all the other patients out, made me go into the consultation room and gave me an antihistamine jab on the hip.
I sat there for a while to confirm that I am not allergic to this antihistamine. They said I should be drowsy by then but I was not until 8 hours later.
Evidently, it will take a much longer time for me to heal.

My aunt saw me on the 3rd day, when I could open both eyes. She thought I looked really bad. Both my eyes were bruised and droopy like tare panda.... If only she saw the first 2 days.

Kekeke. Now normal liao!

Now what are the symptoms of aspirin allergy?

A true aspirin allergy — in which your immune system overreacts to the drug — is rare. Signs and symptoms of aspirin allergy or sensitivity range from mild to serious and may include:

Itchy skin
Itchy, watery eyes
Swelling of the lips, tongue or face
Breathing difficulty or wheezing

These signs and symptoms usually occur within a few hours of taking the medication.

Face swelling is considered severe already, ok? So don't be like me, stood outside the clinic, cracking stupid jokes to mum.

So we ask the usual question, why am I allergic to this now but it was fine before?

In most cases, allergies are inherited. Not to a specific allergen but the tendencies to develop allergies is much higher.

Antibodies (also known as immunoglobulins) are proteins that are found in blood or other bodily fluids of vertebrates, and are used by the immune system to identify and neutralize foreign objects, such as bacteria and viruses.

There are five types of mammalian Ig heavy chain denoted by the Greek letters: α, δ, ε, γ, and μ. The type of heavy chain present defines the class of antibody; these chains are found in IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG, and IgM antibodies, respectively. Distinct heavy chains differ in size and composition; α and γ contain approximately 450 amino acids, while μ and ε have approximately 550 amino acids.
(from Wikipedia)

Our major concern is here IgE. Basically, we develop allergy reaction because IgE mistaken that particular innocuous allergen as harmful to our body.

How many times do we say, "But I was fine with this drug before!".
Truth is, we never were fine with it. Our body was making a decision about the foreign addition. After a few exposure, the antibodies increase until allergic symptoms begin to show. Which is why it seems to take a few encounters to the drug/food for the allergy to develop. Fantastic Voyage by Isaac Asimov has a very interesting take on this.

Well... it is not the end of everything I suppose. Just no more aspirin for mentrual cramps, headaches, colds... Hmm...

Living with it:

1. Update your medical records with your company and family doctors.
2. Update the medical card that you carry with you. (Some people think I am a little crazy like that but I don't care!)
3. Another alternative to your medical card is a dog-tag or wrist-tag specifying your allergy. Wilson used to wear one on his wrist, with the medic sign (caduceus entwined on the staff of Hermes) because he is of blood type A negative.
4. Watch what you eat. Less milk. More eggs.

I've decided to go the holistic ways. But still learning. Will update on another post about this.


How to live with allergy to aspirin

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