Allergy Triggers, Symptoms, Testing, and Treatment
An allergy is a reaction your body has to a particular food or substance. We are exposed to substances that may cause an allergic reaction when ingested, inhaled, or comes into contact with our skin.
Allergic reactions may be mild and can be managed, but some severe reactions require medical attention. To avoid the discomfort associated with unknown allergens, go for allergy testing and treatment near you
Types of Allergens
These are substances found in certain foods and beverages which cause allergic reactions. Some of these allergens are; seafood, soy, milk, wheat, tree nuts, and peanuts. Medications like penicillin can also cause allergic reactions to some people.
Allergens that produce a reaction once they come into contact with your skin are known as contact allergens. Common contact allergens are poison ivy, venom from insects which sting, molds, fungi, and latex.
Some allergens cause a reaction in the body when inhaled and come into contact with the membranes of nostrils, throat, or lungs. Some examples are pollen from trees, weeds or grasses, dust mites, and animal dander.
Symptoms of Allergic Reactions
- Watery, itchy eyes
- Nasal congestion
- Difficulty breathing
- Runny nose
- Rashes or blisters
Types of Allergy Tests
Symptoms that a patient exhibits will guide the specialist on how to go about allergy testing. Some types of tests are discussed below.
A skin test is used to screen for possible allergens when suspected allergens are brought into contact with the skin, and observation for a reaction is made. This type of test is the first step of allergy testing since it is sensitive in detecting low-level allergies. It is also fast and inexpensive.
Some types of skin tests are:
- Patch test. Patches that contain different allergens are applied to the back of the patient to trigger a reaction. The patches are removed after 48 hours, and the specialist examines the skin for signs of a reaction.
- Another assessment may be carried out after 96 hours or 7-10 days for conclusive results. This type of skin test screens for allergens that show symptoms 1-3 days after contact with the allergen.
- Skin prick test. The patient’s skin is pricked at different areas, and drops of solutions that contain allergens are applied to these areas. Each site is marked for observation as the allergen triggers a reaction. A skin prick test is suitable for detecting allergens causing an immediate reaction on contact with the skin.
- Skin scratch and scrape tests. The specialist removes a small section of your skin, and an allergen is rubbed over the exposed flesh to trigger a reaction. This method is used when the skin prick test does not show conclusive results.
- Intra-dermal test. This type of test is performed to detect allergens with weak reactions. An allergen solution is directly injected into the patient’s skin to trigger a reaction. Intra-dermal tests diagnose allergens like penicillin and venom.
These tests are carried out when skin tests cannot be performed due to any of the following reasons:
Dr. Jared Langerman
- The patient is on medication that can affect skin test results
- In cases where the patient suffers from severe skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema
- There is a high risk of triggering a severe allergy
performs various blood tests like the radioallergosorbent test, ELISA test, and in-vitro basophil histamine release assay test to test for allergens. A blood sample will be drawn from your vein and an allergen added to it. The numbers of Immunoglobulin E antibodies produced during the reaction are measured. Blood tests are used to investigate Angioedema and hives in patients.
A patient’s allergy may not produce a strong reaction on the skin and require a challenge test. During a challenge test, the patient’s body is exposed to an allergen in its natural form through the normal route. The allergist monitors closely for signs of a reaction. The South Florida ENT Associates use this method to detect types of allergens that affect the lungs, eyes, or throat.
Treatment of Allergies
Once testing is done and the type of allergen is determined, the specialist at the ENT in Palm Beach prescribes medication to treat or manage your condition. The results of allergy tests must be interpreted along with the patient’s medical history to provide a correct diagnosis of the allergy. Some medications used to control the symptoms are; antihistamines, steroid medicines, creams, lotions, and decongestants.