More than 50 million people in the United States have allergies. Finding out what you are allergic to is an important first step to effective allergy treatment. Today allergy tests are more convenient and accurate than ever before. When combined with a detailed medical history, allergy testing can identify the specific things that trigger your allergic reactions.
Are there any allergy testing side effects?
Any medical test involves some risk. The risk with allergy skin tests is that allergy symptoms might occur during the test. The most common symptoms are itching and swelling of the skin where the tests are. In rare cases, a more serious reaction can occur. That is why skin tests should be done by a specialist. The risk with allergy blood tests is pain or bleeding at the needle mark. Also, a few people may faint during blood testing.
What about allergy testing in children? Who can be tested for allergies?
Adults and children of any age can be tested for allergies.
How is allergy testing done?
Allergy testing can be done as skin tests or as blood tests. Usually, allergy tests are done under the guidance of an allergy specialist. These specialists are trained in the best methods for testing and treating allergies.
How do allergy skin tests work?
There are two types of skin tests. During the first type of skin test, a drop of a suspected allergen is pricked or scratched on the surface of the skin. The test is performed on the back or forearm. Many suspected allergens are tested at the same time. If you are allergic to one of the tests, you will have redness and swelling at the test spot.
Sometimes the doctor will recommend a second type of test. In this type, a small amount of the suspected allergen is injected into the skin of the arm or forearm. Several suspected allergens are tested at the same time.
How long does it take to get skin test results?
Skin testing is fast. For both types of skin tests, positive reactions usually appear within 20 minutes. Sometimes redness and swelling can occur several hours after skin testing. The delayed reaction usually disappears in 24 to 48 hours, but should be reported to the allergy doctor or nurse.
While avoidance is the best defense, it is often impossible to avoid allergens that can trigger your allergies. To relieve the suffering of allergy symptoms, for most inhalant allergies (dust mites, cockroaches, cats, pollen, mold) and stinging insect (bees, wasps) allergies, you can get allergy shots. Allergy shots are also known as “immunotherapy”. Recent research has clearly shown the effectiveness of allergen vaccine immunotherapy for both allergic rhinitis and asthma. It is also highly effective for stinging insect allergies.
These new studies have confirmed what allergy specialists have observed for years in their patients: Allergy shots work in relieving allergy symptoms! In fact allergy shots are the ONLY way to suppress the underlying allergy response for long-term relief.
If you would like to schedule an appointment to receive allergy shots, or have any questions about allergy shots, call the Allergy & Asthma Center near you.