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Allergy Testing

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Allergy Testing is a useful step for many people seeking relief from hay fever and other allergies. Since there are hundreds of different kinds of allergens, allergy testing can be used to determine what a persons body is allergic to.

If you suffer from seasonal allergies such as hay fever, then testing can be a helpful way to identify exactly which allergens are causing your problems. Those who have symptoms of asthma which is not easily controlled by medication are also advised to take these tests so that they know which allergens they should avoid.

Allergy Testing Methods

There are three common methods used to test for allergies.

  • Skin Tests
  • Elimination Tests
  • Blood Tests

Skin Tests

Different methods of skin tests include:

  • Prick Test
  • Intradermal Test
  • Patch Test

Prick test: This method of skin test is most common. With the help of a prick test many allergies can be tested at the same time. The procedure of a prick test is to place a small amount of suspected allergy causing substance on your forearm, or back or upper arm. By pricking the skin then, the allergen goes under the surface of your skin. The skin is then watched closely for any signs of redness or swelling. This test gives result in 15-20 minutes.

Intradermal test: This test is similar to the prick test, where specific allergens are injected into the skin. This process is used if a suspected allergen did not show up on a normal skin prick test. Allergens like bee venom and penicillin are often tested this way.

Patch test: Suspected allergens are taped to the skin under a patch. The doctor will examine the taped area in 24 hours, and again 48 hours later. This is used to diagnose the cause of contact dermatitis allergies.

What Allergies Can Skin Tests Be Used to Identifiy?

Skin tests are useful for diagnosing a number of different types of allergies.

  • Pollen Allergies- Hay Fever, Ragweed
  • Food Allergy
  • Allergic Contact Dermatitis
  • Pet Allergies, Pet Dander
  • Mold
  • Venom Allergy (Bee Stings)

For more info on venom allergies, see this site about Bees and Bee Stings.

Elimination Test

Elimination tests examine allergies by using an elimination diet. This type of testing is used primarily for food allergies and is not used for seasonal allergy sufferers. In this test, food that may cause symptoms is removed for many weeks and is re-introduced gradually keeping a close look at the signs of reaction caused by those foods.

Blood Test

Blood tests are normally used when skin tests are not appropriate or cannot be done. Blood tests measure the amount of immunoglobulin in a body. It then specifies whether allergens could be treated by antibiotics or some other treatment.

Preparing For The Test

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When you go for a test first of all your doctor is going to ask for your medical history. Many times, they will often want to better understand things like your current diet, eating habits, how often you're sick, and how frequently your allergy symptoms occur.

Most Important: If you are going in for a skin prick test, then antihistamines are strictly prohibited. The effect of antihistamines will not give appropriate results for the test. Instead it will show that you are not allergic to a particular substance because the antihistamines are suppressing the normal inflammatory response. If you must be on medications prior to the test, ask your doctor about the types that are approved.