Allergy tests are used to gather the most specific information possible so our office can determine what you are allergic to and provide the best treatment.
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Who should be tested for allergies? Anyone whose symptoms suggest they might have allergies.
Symptoms can include: Itchy eyes, nose, or throat; nasal congestion, runny nose, watery eyes, chest congestion, wheezing, cough; stomach/intestinal upset or headache
Skin symptoms can include: Hives, generalized itchiness or eczema
Other symptoms can include: Anaphylaxis (severe life-threatening allergic reactions), abdominal symptoms (cramping, diarrhea) consistently following particular foods.
Generally, inhaled allergens such as dust mites, tree, grass or weed pollens will produce respiratory symptoms and ingested (food) allergies will produce skin and/or gastrointestinal symptoms or anaphylaxis but both types of allergens (ingested and inhaled) can produce the spectrum of allergy symptoms.
Reason to Test for Allergies: To help manage allergy symptoms most effectively, your doctor will need to determine what is causing the allergy. Allergy tests provide specific information about what you are and are not allergic to. Once the specific allergens causing you symptoms are identified, you and your physician can develop a treatment plan aimed at controlling or eliminating your allergy symptoms.
Who can be tested for allergies?: Adults and children of any age can be tested for allergies. Because different allergens bother different people, your doctor will take your medical history to determine which test is the best for you. Some medications can interfere with skin testing. Antihistamines, in particular, can inhibit some of the skin test reactions, therefore the use of antihistamines should be stopped one week prior to skin testing.
With your allergy symptoms under control you should see a considerable improvement in the quality of your life. Improved sleep quality because of less congestion, days without constant sneezing and blowing your nose, improved ability to exercise, and better control of your atopic dermatitis (eczema) are some improvements you may gain from allergy treatment plans.
Types of Allergy Tests:
Skin Tests - Skin tests include Intradermal and skin Prick tests. This type of testing is the most common and is relatively painless. A very small amount of certain allergens is put into your skin by making a small indentation or “prick” on the surface of your skin.
If you have allergies, a little swelling will occur where the allergen(s) was introduced. If you are allergic to ragweed pollen but not to cats, only the ragweed allergen will cause a little swelling or itching. The spot where the cat allergen was applied will remain normal.
Reactions generally occur within about 15 minutes and generally you will not have any other symptoms.
If your prick skin tests are negative but your physician still suspects you might have allergies, more sensitive “intradermal” tests will be used in which a small amount of allergen is injected within the skin.
Blood (RAST) Tests - Another allergy test that may be performed is a blood test, called a RAST (radioallergosorbent) test. Since this test involves drawing blood, it costs more, and the results are not available as rapidly as skin tests. RAST tests are generally used only in cases in which skin tests can not be performed, such as on patients taking certain medications, or those with skin conditions that may interfere with skin testing.