Studies indicate that nearly half of the United States population is affected in one way or another by some type of sensitivity to an allergen. Allergy suffers can attest to the physical discomfort they regularly go through. However, in more severe cases, allergies can reduce a person’s quality of life and even have an impact on their mental health. Common intolerances can cause digestive issues, skin problems, fatigue, headaches, and respiratory issues. Finding the cause can be a struggle and if you are not treating your specific allergy, you may not only find relief to be elusive, but you could be wasting time and money as well. Intolerances can be found in environmental items, foods, or even the chemicals used to process the food you eat every day. Identification is vital to being able to take effective steps towards finding a regimen to help you find relief.
Both adults and children can undergo allergy testing safely. It should be performed by a professional within an office setting since there is a risk for allergy symptoms to occur. Typically testing is conducted on the skin or by blood.
Skin testing can be done one of two ways:
- A drop of allergen is pricked into the surface of the skin of the forearm. It may also be done on the back. Many allergens can be tested at once and if any of the pricked spots show redness or swelling, an allergen has been identified.
- The second skin test is done by injecting small amounts of the possible allergens under the skin of the forearm. Again, swelling or redness occurs if there is an allergic reaction.
With both types of skin tests you can expect:
- Fast results- positive reactions take about 20 minutes to show
- Possible redness and/or itching for several hours after the test has been completed. Topical cream or an antihistamine can help reduce these symptoms
- Possible delayed reactions up to 2 days after testing should be reported to your doctor
- Testing causes little to no pain
- Multiple needle sticks
Typically skin tests are the preferred method performed when an allergy test is needed. However, when one of these issues is a concern, a blood test may be used instead:
- If you are on medication that you are unable to stop taking for a few days and it can interfere with the test including antihistamines, steroids, and certain antidepressants
- If you suffer from skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema
- If there is a possibility that an extremely severe reaction may occur
- You have an aversion to needles
- You have an unstable heart condition
- If you suffer from asthma that is poorly controlled With a blood test, you will undergo a blood draw. The sample taken will be sent to a lab for analysis. There they can look for the presence of antibodies that are present in your blood. When antibodies are exposed to an allergen, they will respond to the allergen by telling your body to release certain chemicals. It is the chemicals that they release that cause allergic reactions.
With a blood test you can expect:
- A longer waiting period for test results, often, many days to weeks
- Possible minor soreness and redness at the blood draw site
- Able to be done at any time regardless of medications you are on
- Only requires a single needle stick
Elimination diet test
An elimination diet may be used if a food allergy is suspect. It can take several weeks to complete and should be conducted with your doctor so that your nutritional needs are still being met. Usually, specific foods or ingredients that are common allergy-causing items are eliminated from your diet. You will be asked to keep a food diary to record everything you eat. As you slowly reintroduce the eliminated foods back in, you will make note of any symptoms you experience. By the end of the test, you should be able to find out which foods to avoid. Allergies can be successfully managed when the proper treatment options are administered. Having an allergy test done by a professional can further pinpoint exactly what is causing your daily misery. Think of how your quality of life can improve without that constant discomfort. Our friendly and professional staff is waiting to help you reclaim your well-being. Call us now at 205-352-9141.