am allergic to a lot of medications and have a hard time finding
doctors that understand it's not in my head-that it's very serious.
How can I best find a doctor that is willing to work with the challenges
(and frustrations!) of finding treatments that are safe? - Karen
T. Seattle, WA
have found that difficult relationships with doctors (and spouses!)
often stem from communication issues. It may be that you are saying
one thing, and your doctor is "hearing" something entirely
to physicians, the term "drug allergy" has an extremely
specific and limited definition. It describes an abnormal immune
response that may result in rash, hives, swelling, and possibly
shortness of breath. In extreme cases, it can cause shock and death.
If you have these symptoms and your doctor ignores them, run-do
not walk-out of his office.
You may be suffering from "drug intolerance" rather than
drug allergy. Feeling dizzy, nauseated, foggy, or generally out
of sorts after taking a medication is common; and some people are
very sensitive to drug effects. An allergist could help to sort
The word "safe" also has a different meaning to a physician.
Your doctor figures anything that won't kill you is, well, safe.
You may wish to re-enter the dialogue explaining that you feel the
risks and side effects of a particular drug outweigh the benefit
that you receive. You have every right to make that decision.
If you and your doctor are on the same page and he still is unwilling
to work with you, it may be that he simply can't take the time and
effort to go the extra mile. In that case, I would recommend finding
a teaching hospital clinic. Resident physicians are expected to
spend more time with their patients and the supervision is superb.
Chai, MD, MS, is an Internal Medicine Specialist with additional
training in the area of medical research methods. Her experiences
as a patient helped to redirect her priorities to home life and