A drug/medication challenge is a medical office procedure in which a drug/medication is administered under close medical supervision to find out whether there will be symptoms. In some cases, the skin, and/or blood allergy tests cannot conclusively determine whether there will be symptoms with drug/medication exposure. The drug/medication challenge is a more definitive test, because it will show whether a person will react or not when exposed to the drug/medication. In some cases, especially with antibiotics, a negative in-office drug challenge will be followed by a short outpatient course to definitively rule out the possibility of any reaction. An in-office drug/medication challenge is almost always negative.
There are multiple benefits provided by a drug/medication challenge regardless of whether the challenge is positive or negative. If the challenge is negative, the drug/medication can be used when needed, avoiding alternatives that might be more costly, and/or have more side effects. In the rare event that the drug/medication challenge is positive, the patient and family will learn more about individual symptoms, and treatment.
Preparation for a Drug/Medication Challenge
There are several things that you’ll need to do to be prepared for your drug/medication challenge. You should be off most antihistamines for at least a week. Other medications, including asthma medications, can be continued. In most cases, you will be asked to provide the drug/medication. Your allergist should have optimized the control of the atopic dermatitis, and asthma. It would also be helpful to bring in some type of entertainment, such as toys, books, electronics etc. The challenge may last for 1-3 hours.