Allergy Testing and Treatment
With an abundance of over-the-counter allergy medicines available, many people attempt to simply medicate their allergies away. However, while antihistamines may relieve some of your allergy symptoms, fully addressing the situation requires understanding the source of your problem. Allergy testing is an important component of this diagnosis.
Prior to any testing, your doctor is likely to question you about your symptoms and your family history of allergies. These questions will give them a good framework and may include:
An Allergy Skin Test uses extracts (a concentrated liquid form) of common allergens like pollen, dust mites, mold, animal dander, and foods. A drop of the suspected allergen is pricked or scratched on the skin of your back or forearm. If there is a reaction, with redness and swelling at the test spot, it indicates an allergy. A doctor may also recommend a second kind of skin test, in which the allergen is injected into the skin of the arm or forearm. These are both quick procedures, with positive reactions typically appearing within 20 minutes. They involve little to no pain in terms of the administration. The positive reactions can cause red bumps that look and feel like mosquito bite, but these bumps and their itchiness usually disappear within minutes or hours.
To prepare for an Allergy Skin Test, be sure to tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking- as some could interfere with the results. Also, stop taking allergy medications several days before your appointment.
A second type of test is an Allergy Blood Test. In this test, the amount of allergen-specific antibodies in your blood is measured. Your body makes antibodies against allergens when it is exposed to the allergy trigger. These antibodies tell cells to release certain chemicals, which cause your allergy symptoms. An Allergy Blood Test screens for at least ten of the most common allergens (dust, trees, pollen, grasses, weeds, etc.) specific to where you live as well as food allergies. Blood samples from this type of testing are sent to a lab for evaluation, with results taking days or weeks to receive.
While skin testing for allergies is typically preferred, your doctor may recommend blood testing if:
Once your doctor has evaluated your allergy test results, you can work together to formulate a strategy for addressing your specific allergy situation. By taking a customized approach, you will find that your problem is more effectively managed and your daily life is improved. You owe it to yourself to discover an optimal solution to your allergies.