What is a Medication Challenge, and how does it work?
Medication challenges have traditionally been used by allergists for diagnostic purposes to determine whether or not a patient is allergic to a specific medication. In some cases, patch test results are inconclusive and further testing is necessary to fully determine a diagnosis for a medication allergy. Medication challenges are performed in the office with constant monitoring of vital signs by medical professionals. The protocols for medication challenges are extremely variant based on the medication, but typically they require several up-doses of the medication in question. Medication challenges share many similarities with oral food challenges, except the amount of doses are much more variable for medication challenges. For the first dose, the patient ingests a very small, microscopic amount of the medication. If that dose is tolerated well (i.e. no adverse reactions, consistent vital signs, etc.), then the patient is able to receive the next dose, which will be considerably larger than the first, and so on. Based on how the patient tolerates each dose, and whether or not they reach the end of the protocol without any reactions, the allergist is able to give an accurate diagnosis.
Should I ask my provider if I would be a good candidate for a Medication Challenge?
At Columbia Asthma and Allergy Clinic, we receive a lot of inquires about medication challenges because many patients have been told that they have a medication allergy at some point in their lifetime and are curious in testing the accuracy of this diagnosis. If you feel that you would like to test to see if you are still allergic to a specific medication, it may be a good idea to mention this to your CAAC provider. If we are able to perform the medication challenge in question, then we can set up an appointment to do this in the office.
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