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Food Allergy (cont.)

Food Allergy Medications

The choice of medication and how it is given depends on the severity of the reaction.

  • Epinephrine
    • This drug is given only in very severe reactions (anaphylaxis).
    • Epinephrine is injected and acts as a bronchodilator (dilates the breathing tubes).
    • It also constricts the blood vessels, increasing blood pressure.
    • Another medication with similar effects may be given instead.
    • For a less severe reaction involving the respiratory tract, an inhaled epinephrine bronchodilator may be used, as in asthma.
  • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
    • This drug reverses the actions of histamine.
    • Diphenhydramine is injected when quick action is required.
    • It may be given by mouth for a less severe reaction.
  • Corticosteroids
    • One of these drugs is usually given via IV at first for rapid reversal of the effects of the mediators of the allergic response.
    • These drugs should not be confused with the steroids taken by athletes to build muscle and strength.
    • These drugs reduce swelling and many other symptoms of allergic reactions.
    • The person may need to take an oral corticosteroid for several days after this.
    • Oral corticosteroids are often given for less severe reactions.
    • A corticosteroid cream or ointment may be used for skin reactions.
    • Other medications may be given as needed.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/7/2012
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Adverse food reactions can be broadly classified into 2 categories.

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