Thursday, November 20, 2008

When Medicines Attack

Nearly twenty-five years ago, my Didi (my uncle's daughter) was a toddler and I was still a baby. She had picked up some kind of infection, something that upset her stomach, so she was taken to the doctor. She was prescribed and dosed with some medicine whose name nobody in the family seems to remember any more. What they do remember is the effects.

Shortly after being given the medicine she went along with the rest of our (then) joint family to an invitation. On the way she seemed to get drowsier and drowsier until somebody suddenly noticed that the sleepiness seemed unnatural. She was completely collapsing and couldn't hold herself up at all.

The family hurried to a nearby doctor instead and he immediately diagnosed it as an allergy to the medicine she'd been given, a sulpha drug of some kind, much in vogue then. He gave her anti-allergens and she slept it off and was much better the next morning.

It's a cautionary tale, this one, and somewhat tangential perhaps to the FAAM but the importance of testing a child's reactions to medicines cannot be stressed too highly. We tend to be hyper parents of infants and be more lax when they reach the toddler stage. Well, this is not about being hyper 24/7 but carefully watching a child until you can undeniably see that the medicine is being entirely beneficial. This is also about something else I learnt from my father -- being absolutely anal about maintaining medical records: yours as well as your children's. The sulpha allergy surfaced earlier in our aunt so it was less of a shock to the family. But it pays to know the allergies within your family. And it pays to write them down and file that in a place where it's easily accessible.

This was my contribution to the FAAM and MM has the roundup here


D said...

Right now I have a horrible horrible rash on my back because I applied an ointment to get rid of a persistent knot in my back. I know what these allergies are all about. Will do a post on it some time soon, as you suggested Sue.

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

Couldn't agree more about keeping records! Fortunately, in the US the pediatricians keep a comprehensive copy and transfer records (free of charge - at least for now) if you switch docs!
But yes, it's good to keep a track at home too!

Casuarina said...

I'm allergic to a drug sold under the name of 'Tinidazole' and found out about that in the most horrifying manner,namely huge oedematic swellings on the left side of my neck and the back of my left foot.I was scarred for life (in all senses) and have stopped wearing short skirts and low-necked tops ever since.This, despite my dad being a doctor.I would always recommend that ppl be cautious when trying out any new medicine.Prevention is defintely better than a cure.

Anonymous said...

Your cousin had a narrow escape. Sulpha drugs are notorious allergens - I can't think why they are still used.

I am allergic to sulpha and to penicillin (also several over the counter antibiotic creams). So is my sister, Dad and Uncle.

I got E tested (with much laughter and joking at my expense from the husband and family, because they thought I was being hypersensitive) , turns out she's allergic to penicillin and sulpha too. Not so funny now.

Sorry about taking up so much space, this issue is really close to my heart.


Mama - Mia said...

true. My bro is allergic to some three very common drugs. thankfully he could remember the names from prett early on and if there was ever change of docs he would immediately rattle off the names.

informative post, yet again!



Monika,Ansh said...

True.....thanks for the info.

D said...

Hey Sue, I also posted my allergy story on the blog today.

Sue said...

GND -- Here in India I don't know of any paeds who keep records (although perhaps the more upmarket ones do) so it's really important to do it oneself. Come to think of it, not just for kids either.

Casuarina -- Oh that sounds nasty. Yes, Tinidazole is a pretty common drug. Perhaps you can do a post to publicise the danger?

Priya -- Man, you should have posted on this. Am so glad you got your daughter tested. Those who laugh just don't know what it's all about. I would have had no idea myself except that it happened to a fist cousin in a joint family.

Abha -- Perhaps he should carry a card in his wallet in case he's ever in a state where he needs medication and cannot talk?

Monika -- Any time.

D -- Thanks! So for the late response.