Doctor Talks About Children's Allergic Reactions to Medications

Lynchburg, VA- The story of the 7-year-old who survived a near deadly allergic reaction to an over the counter medicine made one mom in our newsroom take notice.

ABC 13's Angela Hatcher spoke with a doctor and pharmacist Wednesday about options parents have to safely treat their children.

Experts say what happened to Princess is very rare, but allergic reactions to medicines, even their inactive ingredients, are not.

"It can come on without warning," said Dr. Thomas Eppes.

The parents of 7-year-old Princess Gillespie had never heard of Stevens-Johnson syndrome until their daughter was lying there in a medically induced coma, the result of a severe allergic reaction to the ibuprofen Princess was taking for a fever.

"No medicine is a magic bullet, it doesn't hit everything exactly right all the time," said Eppes.

Eppes is in family practice in Forest. He says the type of severe reaction seen in this case is extremely rare. However...

"Anything that you use, whether it is a prescription, an over the counter medicine or the health food alternatives, all those things can have a reaction," he said.

Pharmacist Vince Ettare, who's also a father of three, helps other parents pick out medicine for their kids at Rustburg Family Pharmacy.

"Most people don't ask about reactions," he said. "We'll give them the major warnings, but most of these things are extraordinarily safe."

They're safe when taken as directed. But an overdose isn't the same as an allergy.

"That's a reaction to the medicine... one drop or one dose," said Eppes.

According to Dr. Eppes, the amount of medicine wouldn't have mattered in a case like this.

"We don't know when, where, or what," he said.

The reaction would have been just as surprising.

Dr. Eppes tells parents all the time that fevers are natural and not to treat them with medicine. He says treating them can actually make an illness last longer.

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