Allergies affect over 50 million Americans, making it the most common health condition. Allergic reactions vary from a stuffy nose when we’re out in the summer or in a dusty room, to life-threatening anaphylactic shock.
Allergies occur when our immune system perceives something we encounter, through touch, ingestion or inhalation, to be dangerous and overreacts. For example, pollen is typically harmless, but it can cause the body to respond excessively. This overreaction can lead to sneezing, blocked sinuses, a runny nose, itchy throat, and watery eyes.
Mild allergy symptoms can sometimes lead us to believe we have another condition if we aren’t aware of it, and if we do have an allergy, it’s likely we have others we aren’t aware of. One of the safest and easiest ways to determine if you have allergies is with an allergy test. Let’s take a look at what to expect from an allergy test.
What is an allergy test?
A trained allergy specialist performs an allergy test to ascertain whether your body has an allergic reaction to a particular substance. The exam may take the form of a skin test, a blood test, or an elimination diet.
When conducted by a trained medical professional, allergy tests are the safest way to identify problematic foods and substances. Once your doctor has identified the allergen, they can advise you on how diligently you need to avoid it in the future.
What happens during an allergy test?
The most efficient allergy tests are blood tests, elimination diets and skin tests.
Blood tests can help diagnose common allergies. We take a sample of the patient’s blood and analyze it to look for specific antibodies produced by the patient’s immune system in response to the suspected allergen.
Elimination diets are particularly useful if a patient is believed to have a mild food allergy. This process involves removing certain foods from the patient’s diet and adding them back in later. We monitor the patient’s reactions to help determine which foods cause allergic reactions.
Skin testing is often done alongside blood tests. There are three types of skin tests: scratch tests, intradermal tests, and patch tests.
- A scratch testentails putting a drop of liquid containing the suspected allergen onto the patient’s forearm. The skin beneath the drop of liquid is then gently pricked. If the patient is allergic to the liquid, a red, itchy bump will appear on the skin within about ten minutes.
- Intradermal testsinvolve injecting a tiny amount of the allergen into the patient’s skin and monitoring their reaction.
- Finally, patch testsinvolve placing adhesive patches with suspected allergens on the patient’s skin. We then review the patches 48 hours, 72 and 96 hours after application.
What results can I expect from my allergy test?
Some tests will detect an immediate allergic reaction, which can develop as early as minutes of exposure. Other tests will pick up on delayed allergic reactions, which develop over a few days. Once we have determined which allergens are causing a patient’s problems, we’ll work together to establish a plan for avoiding them.
At Apurva Advanced Medical Care, we offer a wide range of services. Whether you need an allergy test, cortisone injections for arthritis, an in-home sleep study or a general check-up, we’re here for you.
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