The basics of allergy testing from your Barrington Allergist
Substances that cause an allergic reaction are referred to as allergen. For people who are currently experiencing these reactions, it is important to determine what substances are triggering the events. In order to do this, allergists can test your skin or blood using small amounts of the most commonly known allergens.
Allergy tests are extremely important because they can provide insight on what you are allergic to and allow your allergist to recommend the best treatments available.
Both adults and children who suspect that they may have an allergic disease should undergo allergy testing. Inhaled allergens typically produce respiratory symptoms and food allergies mostly produce skin or gastrointestinal symptoms.
Common symptoms from allergies may include:
- Itchy eyes, nose, or throat
- Runny nose
- Chest congestion
- Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)
- Abdominal cramping or diarrhea
Allergy testing is an essential step to dramatically improving the quality of life for patients who suffer from allergy symptoms. Days can be enjoyed without constant sneezing or congestion. Skin conditions can improve and you can even perform physical activities like exercising with more ease.
How do allergy tests work?
Allergy tests work by trying to identify what proteins you are reacting to within a substance. They use a tiny amount of the allergen (an allergen extract) to safely test you for allergies to the most common substances.
Types of allergy tests include:
- Prick Test – Exposes you to a small amount of the allergen through a tiny skin prick. If you are allergic to a particular substance the skin will react in the area where it was exposed to that one specific allergen. Results are quick and accurate.
- Patch test – Exposes the skin surface to the allergen that is covered with a special bandage. Results typically take a few days.
- Blood Test – Although not as common as the first two, blood tests are often used when skin tests can’t be performed or if the skin tests require further clarification.
- Oral Challenge – In some instances, patients may be tested for allergic reactions by ingesting small amounts of the potential allergens while being closely supervised by medical staff.
Allergy testing can help save patients from potentially life threatening conditions like anaphylaxis. Once the cause of your allergic reaction is determined, a course of treatment can be recommended. Many allergies can be controlled and treated with immunotherapy. With food allergies, the most common form of treatment is avoidance of the food.
If you are near Barrington, and would like to learn more about allergy testing or to schedule a consultation with our allergists, call our office today.
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