Allergic reaction is an abnormal response from your immune system towards a substance or chemical. Some symptoms of an allergic reaction include skin rash, hives, itching, runny nose, red eyes, or difficulty breathing.
Substances that don’t bother most people (such as bee stings, peanuts, medicines, and pollens) can trigger allergic reactions in certain people. Who gets an allergic reaction to which substance is generally unpredictable.
Certain cancer treatments, including chemotherapy, targeted therapy and hormonal therapy, are associated with the allergic reaction. You have the highest risk of developing an allergic reaction early on during a new treatment.
How bad is my allergic reactions?
Mild: Localized symptoms like hives (especially over the neck and face), itching, nasal congestion, rashes, and watery red eyes. You may also have 1-2 episodes of vomiting or diarrhea. Local treatments like cream or nasal spray are usually enough to treat these reactions. See more information below.
Moderate: Generalized skin rash or hives over multiple body parts (e.g. chest and arms); or 3 or more episodes of vomiting or diarrhea; or throat swelling that causes change in voice or difficulty breathing. This requires immediate treatment under your Doctor’s supervision. Call your doctor if you experience these symptoms.
Severe: Abdominal pain, abnormal (high-pitched) breathing sounds, anxiety with chest discomfort or tightness, cough or difficulty breathing/wheezing, shortness of breath, fainting, difficulty swallowing, edema, dizziness, confusion, imbalance, blurry vision, abnormal heart rhythm. This is an emergency that requires immediate treatment under your Doctor’s supervision. Call 911.
If you want more technical information on how severe your allergic reaction is, click here.
How to manage mild allergic reaction?
- Try to avoid your allergens. Antihistamines and decongestants can help treat certain symptoms, as can nasal sprays.
- Use calamine lotion or cold compresses for itchy skin and skin rash.
- Take prescribed pre-medications prior to chemotherapy as directed by your healthcare professional.
- Try to avoid your allergens to prevent this from happening again
What causes allergic reactions?
- Certain types of cancer and cancer treatments (chemotherapy, targeted therapy and hormonal therapy)
- Pain medications
- Certain food items (peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, eggs and milk)
- Insect stings (bee or wasp)
- Airborne allergens (pollen, animal dander, dust mites and mold)
- Family history of allergies
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