It is a “down” week for me. I sprained my right knee yesterday and later in the evening, found out that I am allergic to the medication that I took to deal with the pain.
So instead of writing about my running progress this week, I am going to write about my aspirin allergy.
All my life I’ve known to have a simple food allergy to prawns. I don’t have a severe reaction to it, just some mild itching and the occasional swelling of the eye – nothing that a common anti-histamine can’t fix.
About six months ago I had a headache and there was nothing else in the house but ibuprofen. So I took two tablets and went to bed. When I woke up, one eye was swollen shut. I have never taken any ibuprofen or aspirin prior to that, my over-the-counter drug of choice has always been ponstan (mefenamic acid) or panadol (paracetamol). Since my nephew has an allergy reaction to ibuprofen, I deduced that I too am allergic to it so we threw away anything in the house that contains aspirin.
Aspirin Allergy: What are NSAIDs?
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (abbreviated NSAID) include a large number of medications that are closely related to aspirin. Aspirin was the first NSAID discovered in the 1800’s, isolated from the bark of the willow tree. Today hundreds of chemically produced NSAIDs are used to control conditions that involve inflammation, pain, and fever. Source: Aspirin Allergy
Yesterday morning, while doing laundry, I slipped and fell and sprained my knee. I texted my sister who is a doctor to ask for a prescription, but I totally forgot to tell her about my aspirin allergy. She prescribed voltaren (diclofenac) and fastum gel (heat rub). Again, it didn’t occur to me to check if I could take voltaren so I had some nasi ayam, took the meds and then went to sleep.
When I woke up from the nap, half of my face was swollen (pic above taken about an hour after I woke up and the swelling has gone down considerably). As voltaren is the only new thing in my regimen, it didn’t take long to deduce that it is the culprit. I took some anti-histamine to help with the swelling, then pumped in 2L of water into my system to flush out the meds.
While my allergy reaction (which is a skin symptom) is common and is not what is considered as severe, it is inconvenient and uncomfortable. Aspirin allergy apparently happens to a lot of people. Unfortunately, there are a lot of meds out there that contain aspirin or related NSAIDs, evidenced by my unfortunate experience today. The best treatment for it is to avoid such medication altogether .
The following are the most commonly used NSAIDs that should be avoided by NSAID-allergic patients. This list is in no way comprehensive – always talk with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new prescription or over-the-counter medications.
Prescription medications to avoid.
- Diclofenac (Voltaren®)
- Diflunisal (Dolobid®)
- Etodolac (Lodine®)
- Fenoprofen (Nalfon®)
- Flurbiprofen (Ansaid®)
- Ibuprofen (Motrin® products, Advil® products, many generic forms)
- Indomethacin (Indocin®)
- Ketoprofen (Orudis®)
- Ketorolac (Toradol®)
- Meloxicam (Mobic®)
- Nabumetone (Relafen®)
- Naproxen (Aleve®, Naprosyn®, Anaprox® products)
- Oxaprozin (Daypro®)
- Piroxicam (Feldene®)
- Salsalate (Disalcid®)
- Sulindac (Clinoril®)
- Tolmetin (Tolectin® products)
Over-the-counter medications to avoid.
- St. Joseph’s®
What I do now is to keep a list of meds to avoid in my wallet and in my phone. Safe than sorry, my friend.
The sprained knee means I am out of commission this week. Once the swelling goes down I am going to get a knee massage to deal with the stiffness. If I can I will try to do some light walking on the treadmill; failing that I will just stick to free weights and work on toning my arms. Maybe a good time to do a detoxing routine too and calibrate my eating habits since I can’t leave the house. In meantime, I’m alternating between cold compress and heat rub, tightly bound the knee and put a pillow underneath it to help with lessening the pain. Sleep is almost impossible as I could not turn to my sides, but there is only so much facebooking or video games that I could handle in one night so gotta deal with the discomfort somehow.
If you pity me, send me some cupcakes or coffee or a handsome man to massage my knee.
I wish everyone better luck than mine!