The first step in getting allergy symptoms under control is to identify the allergens that are contributing to your allergic reactions. Fortunately, modern-day medicine has made this process relatively easy. There numerous allergy tests that can be performed on a patient. And once a diagnosis has been made, patients can get started on a course of treatment that can resolve their symptoms; additionally, they will know what to avoid in the future to prevent their symptoms from flaring up again. That said, if you’re among the 50 million Americans struggling with allergies, relief from your symptoms, not to mention an accurate diagnosis, can be achieved by scheduling an appointment with a licensed physician.
CAN MOST CLINICS RUN ALLERGY TESTS?
While most general physicians can treat the symptoms brought on by allergies, an allergist, dermatologist, or otolaryngologist would be the better choice as they can identify the allergens that are contributing to your symptoms. And many of these practitioners can be found in allergy clinics across the nation. In saying that, it should be stressed that there is no such thing as a one size fits all approach when it comes to allergy testing. Even after the symptom-inducing allergens have been identified, treatments can vary depending on the severity of the allergies and the part of the body impacted. For example, if your symptoms consist of watery eyes, a runny nose, or sneezing, your physician will likely recommend antihistamine medications. Conversely, if you develop a rash after being exposed to allergens, the physician may recommend antibiotics, some of which include the likes of dicloxacillin, erythromycin, or tetracycline, for example. In some cases, the physician might even recommend both forms of treatment.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ALLERGY TESTING AND ALLERGY CLINICS
Whether you’re struggling with food allergies or airborne allergies, the physicians at an allergy clinic will usually start by asking you questions about your medical history as well as the nature of your symptoms before moving on to allergy testing, which can include any of the following:
Skin tests – This form of allergy testing is considered by most physicians to be a go-to for identifying food and airborne allergies. It is also commonly used to identify contact allergens, which are the ones that trigger an allergic reaction when an individual’s skin comes into contact with them, poison ivy being a prime example. That said, there are two kinds of skin tests:
This approach to skin testing entails the physician applying a known allergen on the patient’s skin and then using an instrument to lightly scratch the skin, which will allow the allergens to penetrate the skin’s surface. If the patient is allergic to the allergen, they will typically experience swelling, itching, or redness on the part of the skin where the allergen was applied.
This type of skin test is usually done when the initial scratch test is inconclusive. An intradermal test involves the physician injecting a small amount of a specific allergen into the corium, the layer of skin between the epidermis and subcutaneous tissues. Like the scratch test, if the patient experiences swelling, itching, or redness on the part of the skin where they received the injection, they are more than likely allergic to that particular allergen. Another form of intradermal testing involves the use of an adhesive patch, which the patient will have to wear for 72 to 96 hours. On a follow-up appointment, the physician will observe the patient’s skin for signs of an allergic reaction.
If a physician suspects that a patient might have a severe allergic reaction to a skin test, they will typically perform a blood test instead. This form of allergy testing involves the physician drawing a small sample of blood from the patient and then sending it to a lab. There, lab technicians will examine the blood for the presence of IgE antibodies, which are produced by the immune system when an individual develops an allergic reaction to specific allergens. A blood test can also help identify the type of allergen responsible for the patient’s allergy symptoms.
In summation, most clinics in America are staffed with allergists, dermatologists, or otolaryngologists that can perform the testing needed to identify the allergens that are triggering a patient’s allergy symptoms. And once they have made this determination, they can move forward with a treatment that will help get their symptoms under control. To learn more about allergy testing or to schedule an appointment, consider speaking with one of our associates today. Call us now at 205-352-9141.