How Are Allergies Diagnosed
If you think you have allergies, don’t wait to see if your symptoms go away. When your symptoms last longer than a week or two and tend to come back, make an appointment with an allergy/immunology specialist.
Allergy skin testing may be used to identify the allergens that are causing your allergy symptoms. The test is performed by pricking your skin with an extract of an allergen, and then checking your skins reaction.
If a skin test cant be performed, blood work may be obtained. This test is not as sensitive as a skin test. The test evaluates the number of antibodies produced by your immune system. Higher levels of certain antibodies suggest possible allergy to that allergen.
Other types of allergy testing are available too.
Testing For Food Allergies
Doctors use skin tests to diagnose environmental allergies. But its different with food allergies. When a skin test shows up as positive with a certain food, that only means a person might be allergic to that food. In these cases, doctors may want to do additional testing.
To diagnose a food allergy for certain, an allergist may do a blood test in addition to skin testing. This involves taking a small sample of a persons blood and sending it to a laboratory for analysis. The lab checks the blood for IgE antibodies to specific foods. If there are enough IgE antibodies to a particular food in the blood, it means its very likely that person has an allergy.
Doctors often use a combination of skin testing and blood testing to diagnose a food allergy. If both come up positive, theres no need for further testing.
If the results of the skin and blood tests are still unclear, though, an allergist might do something called a food challenge. During this test, the person is given gradually increasing amounts of the potential food allergen to eat while the doctor watches for symptoms.
When Allergy Testing Is Appropriate
Allergy testing is usually performed on people with suspected allergic rhinitis , asthma or reactions to insects or foods. In people with allergic rhinitis or asthma, allergy testing usually includes house dust mite, cat and dog dander , mould spores, pollen from relevant grasses, weeds or trees and in some cases, occupational allergens. Testing can also be used to confirm suspected allergies to foods, stinging insects and some medicines.
It is important to note that:
- Allergy test results cannot be used on their own and must be considered together with your clinical history.
- Medicare rebates are available for skin prick tests or blood tests for allergen specific IgE in Australia.
- In some cases, you may be referred to a clinical immunology/allergy specialist for further detailed assessment.
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Allergists Located In Houston Pearland And Pasadena Tx
While you can be allergic to all types of drugs, penicillin allergies are the most common types of drug allergies in the United States. If you had a reaction after taking penicillin and need to find out if youre allergic to it, schedule an evaluation at The Allergy Clinic in Houston, Pasadena, or Pearland, Texas. The team offers advanced allergy testing for penicillin, so you can get conclusive results right away. Book your appointment online or call one of their convenient locations today.
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Why Allergy Testing Is Performed
Allergies affect more than 50 million people living in the USA, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Inhaled allergens are by far the most common type. Seasonal allergies and hay fever, which is an allergic response to pollen, affect more than 40 million Americans.
The World Allergy Organization estimates that asthma is responsible for 250,000 deaths annually. These deaths can be avoided with proper allergy care, as asthma is considered an allergic disease process.
Allergy testing can determine which particular pollens, molds, or other substances youre allergic to. You may need medication to treat your allergies. Alternatively, you can try to avoid your allergy triggers.
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What Are The Types Of Allergies And How Are They Treated
You can be allergic to a wide variety of substances including pollen, animal dander, mold and dust mites.
Seasonal allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is an allergic response to pollen. It causes inflammation and swelling of the lining of your nose and of the protective tissue of your eyes .
Symptoms include sneezing, congestion , and itchy, watery eyes, nose and mouth. Treatment options include over-the-counter and prescription oral antihistamines, anti-leukotrienes, nasal steroids, nasal antihistamines, and nasal cromolyn. In some people, allergic asthma symptoms can be caused by exposure to pollen.
Your symptoms can be reduced by avoiding pollen. Stay indoors when pollen counts are high, close your windows, and use air conditioning. Ask your healthcare provider about immunotherapy to treat pollen allergy.
Dust mites are tiny organisms that live in dust and in the fibers of household objects, such as pillows, mattresses, carpet, and upholstery. Dust mites grow in warm, humid areas.
The symptoms of dust mite allergy are similar to those of pollen allergy. To help manage dust mite allergies, try using dust mite encasements over pillows, mattresses, and box springs. Also, remove carpet, or vacuum frequently with a high-efficiency filter vacuum cleaner. Treatment may include medications to control your nasal/eye and chest symptoms. Immunotherapy may be recommended if your symptoms are not adequately controlled with avoidance methods and medications.
What Do The Results Mean
If you had a patch test and have itchy, red bumps or swelling at any of the testing sites, it means you are probably allergic to the substance tested.
If you had a blood test, abnormal results may mean you:
- Are allergic to a certain substance
- Have a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection
If you had a skin biopsy, abnormal results may mean you:
- Have a skin disorder such as psoriasis or eczema
- Have a bacterial or fungal infection
If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.
Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.
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The Allergy Testing Process Is Less Than 60 Seconds
A lot of people get scared when they hear that an appointment for children takes about 60 minutes. The first thing that pops into most peopleâs minds is watching their child squirm and scream while our staff pokes them with a million different things for an hour!
In reality, the actual testing process itself lasts less than 60 seconds. The rest of the time is spent waiting for results, talking about the allergies your child has, and the treatment plan that works best for you and your child.
Much of the time will be spent doing what may feel like âsitting aroundâ. We need to give time after the testing to see if a certain allergen has a reaction, so a good amount of the time during allergy testing is waiting for for that reaction to present itself. While sitting around for an hour sounds like it could be tough to do with a child, weâve got that covered too.
Why Do I Need Penicillin Allergy Testing
As many as 90% of men and women who think they are allergic to penicillin discover they arent once they take a skin test. For those who are truly allergic to penicillin, side effects and symptoms can become dangerous. Its time to schedule a penicillin allergy test if you experience any of the following issues after taking anything with penicillin:
- Hives or rashes
- Widespread itchiness
These are some of the early red flags of a severe reaction that could lead to anaphylactic shock, a potentially life-threatening condition.
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What Are The Risks Of Allergy Testing
Generally, allergy tests cause itching and redness at the site of the testing, but eventually, it goes back to normal after a few hours to a few days. On rare occasions, the test done for allergy produces immediate and severe consequences that require medical attention as soon as possible. Due to these reasons, Allergy Testing should be performed in a medical office or lab where all the medical facilities are available including epinephrine that is used to treat anaphylaxis shock and save the patient from a life-threatening acute allergic reaction.
Preparing For Your Apt
- APT will require a series of visits to our clinic over a few days.
- About a month before the first appointment, you’ll need to stop taking certain medications, including oral steroids. Your allergist and/or food allergy nurse will go over this with you in detail, so you understand which medications to stop and when to stop them.
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Are There Any Risks To The Test
There is very little risk to having a patch test. If you feel intense itching or pain under the patches once you are home, remove the patches and call your health care provider.
There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.
After a biopsy, you may have a little bruising, bleeding, or soreness at the biopsy site. If these symptoms last longer than a few days or they get worse, talk to your provider.
What The Apt Shows
APT can provide useful information for managing eosinophilic disorders and atopic dermatitis, as well as monitoring Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome . These conditions can be caused, in part, by an underlying food allergy. Your allergist and/or specialist will use the results of APT to help direct dietary changes for these conditions.
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What Happens During The Apt
- First, we will use a special tape to place a prepared panel of food extracts on your back.
- You will be required to keep this panel dry, and in place on your back, for 48 to 72 hours.
- We will schedule a return appointment in our clinic so your allergist can remove the panel and obtain the test results.
So When Should You Have Allergy Tests
If you have allergy symptoms, you may get relief from self-help steps and over-the-counter drugs. If these steps do not help your symptoms, then it is time to see your doctor.
The doctor should ask you about your medical history and make sure you get the right tests. If your medical history suggests that you have an allergy, your doctor might refer you to an allergist or immunologist for testing.
- A skin test is the most common kind of allergy test. Your skin is pricked with a needle that has a tiny amount of something you might be allergic to.
- If you have a rash or take a medicine that could affect the results of a skin test, you may need a blood test.
- For chronic hives, you usually do not need an allergy test. However, your doctor might order tests to make sure that the hives are not caused by other conditions, such as a thyroid disorder.
This report is for you to use when talking with your healthcare provider. It is not a substitute for medical advice and treatment. Use of this report is at your own risk.
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What Happens During The Allergy Test
The type of test to be carried out will depend on a number of factors including symptoms and the condition of your skin.
Skin prick test
This is the most common allergy test. From the clinical history the Consultant will have a clear indication of the allergen/s that are the possible triggers and a small drop of the allergen solution will be placed on the skin of the forearm. The skin is then slightly scratched, this does not draw blood. If a red mark appears, this is measured and appropriate advice is given on avoidance and management of the allergy identified.
For some patients blood testing is more appropriate, for example, if you have a history of severe allergic reactions or if you suffer with extensive eczema. A sample of blood is taken and sent to our on-site laboratory for analysis. The purpose of this is to confirm the diagnosis reached during your consultation and you will be advised of the result within a few days.
Other Skin Testing Methods
Intradermal testing should not be used to test for allergy to inhalants or foods. Instradermal testing was used in the past, however it is less reliable than skin prick testing, and causes much greater discomfort. Intradermal skin testing may be used to test for allergies to antibiotic drugs or stinging insect venom, when greater sensitivity is needed.
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What The Rast Shows
A negative RAST is as reliable as a negative SPT in ruling out a true food allergy. However, RAST has a slightly higher false positive rate than SPT, making it less reliable for confirming an allergy. If you have been diagnosed with a true food allergy, RAST can be useful in monitoring IgE values. If your RAST level falls below a given point, your allergist may recommend an Oral Food Challenge in our clinic, to determine if you still have an allergy.
The Risks Of Allergy Testing
Allergy tests may result in mild itching, redness, and swelling of the skin. Sometimes, small bumps called wheals appear on the skin. These symptoms often clear up within hours but may last for a few days. Mild topical steroid creams can alleviate these symptoms.
On rare occasions, allergy tests produce an immediate, severe allergic reaction that requires medical attention. Thats why allergy tests should be conducted in an office that has adequate medications and equipment, including epinephrine to treat anaphylaxis, which is a potentially life-threatening acute allergic reaction.
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Allergy Testing Results Are Same Day And Accurate And Will Give You An Understanding Of What Can Be Dangerous To Your Child
A lot of people have this preconceived notion that allergy testing is done through blood testing and results are sent back days to weeks after the appointment. While blood testing is an option, most of our tests are prick or skin tests which result in same day results.
Really the only thing that youâll be waiting on is the body to respond to the allergens. Skin tests are usually more accurate than a blood test, and you wonât need to make another appointment to have a consult with our allergy experts.
We brought Blake in for a food allergy test because she was having reactions to foods she was eating. She also has eczema that never goes away despite trying just about every over-the-counter treatment and prescription creams. We learned from the test that she had a major allergy to peanuts and that we would need to carry an EpiPen for her and have one other school in case of emergency. I had no idea her food allergy was that bad! We also learned that with children so young, reactions can get worse over time so having the EpiPen is even more important. Thankfully, the test brought our attention to this before a life-threatening reaction occurred.
It goes without saying how important it is for your child to be allergy tested if youâre already seeing signs of allergic reactions. At Aspire Allergy & Sinus, we provide an allergy testing experience that is safe, easy, and painless.
– Allie Thompson, CEO
What Substances Can Cause A Reaction In My Body
These are things that you get into contact within a variety of ways:
Through the mouth when you eat or drink certain foods, specific ingredients, a food additive, a particular medicine
Through the air when you breathe in. For example pollen, smoke, dust, molds, fumes, sprays, or fur from pets.
Through the skin when it touches, rubs or pricks through something you apply on the skin, a substance in the fabric or jewellery you wear, something that rubs or pricks your skin like a plant or insect.
It may be injected into you like medicine or intravenous fluids
An individual could be sensitive to one or a variety of allergens.
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The Wrong Test Can Be A Waste Of Money
Allergy tests can cost a lot. A skin allergy test can cost $60 to $300. A blood test can cost $200 to $1,000. A blood test for food allergies can cost hundreds of dollars, and testing for chronic hives can cost thousands of dollars. Your health insurance may not cover the costs of these tests. And without a doctors exam, the test may not even tell you what is causing your symptoms or how to treat them.
Oral Allergen Challenge Testing
Oral allergen challenge testing may sometimes be required to confirm diagnosis when the cause of a severe allergic reaction has not been confirmed. This will normally only be performed using foods or medications under the supervision of a clinical immunology/allergy specialist with appropriate resuscitation facilities immediately available.
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How To Prepare For Your First Visit At An Allergy Clinic
Allergies are a common condition that can strike at any time. These are adverse body reactions controlled by factors such as your environment, food intake, and medications. Regardless of whether you know the source of your allergies, visiting an allergy clinic is a great idea.
Allergy clinics specialize in diagnosing allergy triggers and providing appropriate treatment. When visiting an allergy clinic doctor or an allergy specialist is likely to see you.
What To Expect From An Allergy Test
Being a mother can make you paranoid about a lot of things â sneezing, bodies of water, sharp objects, the list goes on. One of the last things you want to be doing with your child is taking them to a clinic where they get poked and prodded with needles.
One of our goals when starting Aspire Allergy & Sinus was to offer the best food and environmental allergy testing experience by making it painless and easy. Hereâs what you can expect from a childrenâs allergy test at our clinics.
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