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 a doctors office that has adequate medications and equipment, including epinephrine to treat anaphylaxis, which is a potentially life threatening acute allergic reaction.
Call 911 immediately if you have symptoms of anaphylaxis, such as:
- swelling of the throat
Why Allergy Testing Is Performed
Allergies affect more than 50 million people living in the United States, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology . Inhaled allergens are by far the most common type.
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.
Symptoms Associated With Allergies
Symptoms associated with allergies can include:
- skin rashes such as eczema or hives
- swelling of lips, face, eyes
- swelling of tongue
- sneezing and running nose
- teary, red, itchy eyes
- wheeze, cough
- anaphylaxis a severe allergic reaction that causes serious breathing problems. Anaphylaxis can be fatal.
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What Do The Results Of An Allergy Test Mean
Allergy test results may be:
- Negative: You arent allergic to that substance. Its rare to get a false negative allergy test result .
- Positive: Youre allergic to that substance. Note that even when tests correctly show that you have an allergy, it doesnt necessarily mean that youll react to that allergen. A false positive test result is possible, especially from a blood test. A false positive means the results show you have an allergy when you dont.
What Are Options For Allergy Treatments
After weve determined your specific allergies, we can work toward the best possible management paths, which often differ from adults to children. We customize all management paths for our patients, depending not only on their allergies but also on their lifestyles.
There are many options for treating allergies. Many people are most familiar with immunotherapy, or allergy shots. If you chose immunotherapy, understand that the most essential active ingredients in are patience and commitment allergy shots take a while to work. While you will likely notice a change for the better in four to six months, you should allow a year of treatment to see real improvements. We believe that its worth the wait: the five-year success rate for allergy shots is about 85 percent!
Immunotherapy is just one of several treatment options available, however. We will discuss with you the most effective and convenient options for you to create your individual treatment plan.
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Numbing Cream Is Helpful And Optional For Allergy Tests
One thing that we offer to all children being tested is a prescription numbing cream that reduces the itching caused by the test. This can be very helpful so the child doesnât feel the prick of the applicator, only some pressure as the antigens are placed on their back.
The cream is optional for parents that donât feel that itâs necessary, but it does seem to help with the process to make it easier for everyone! Donât be worried about using too much, the more you put on the more numb your childâs back becomes.
How Is Allergy Skin Testing Performed
Your allergy skin testing will be performed in a doctors office or clinic. A prick/puncture/scratch skin test tests for 10 to 50 allergens. It generally involves these steps:
Your doctor completes a medical history and physical exam and asks you about your allergy symptoms.
You may keep an allergy log to help determine the most likely allergens. A log can include recording when you have symptoms, how long they last, what you were doing at the time, what medications you took, and how the medication worked.
You may participate in an elimination diet if your doctor suspects food allergies. This diet eliminates foods one by one to see if a certain food causes symptoms. Your doctor will evaluate the above steps to decide if you are a good candidate for allergy skin testing.
Your doctor will also ensure that allergy skin testing does not put you at risk for a serious reaction, such as anaphylaxis or an asthma attack.
Your doctor or nurse will apply the allergens with a tiny prick or scratch on the surface of your skin. The forearm is the usual site in adults. The back is the usual site in children. This process takes five to 10 minutes.
Your doctor will examine your skin after about 15 to 20 minutes. You may be allergic to a particular allergen if a small red lump appears at any of the allergen prick or scratch sites onyour skin.
Your doctor will interpret the results in relation to your medical history, physical exam, and other tests.
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I Think I Have An Allergy And Should Be Tested How Is Allergy Testing Done
Allergy testing can be performed by skin test or blood test. Skin testing can be done by the skin prick method, in which a drop of the allergen is placed on the surface of the skin, which is gently scratched with a small plastic device. The second type of testing is called intradermal skin testing, in which a syringe is used to place a small amount of the allergen under the surface of the skin. Allergy testing can also be performed by drawing blood from a vein, just like any other blood draw.
If I Have A Positive Skin Or Blood Test To A Food Does That Mean I Am Allergic To The Food
A food allergy is diagnosed on the basis of a clinical history of reactivity and symptoms after exposure to that particular food, plus a positive skin or blood test. A positive test in the absence of symptoms does not necessarily mean you have a food allergy.
For example, if you eat eggs every day and have no problems or symptoms after eating themeven if by chance, you have a positive allergy testit still does not mean you are allergic to the food. Thats why a consultation with a health care professional trained in allergy/immunology is essential in interpreting results of allergy testing.
If you think you might benefit from allergy testing, contact the UNC Allergy and Immunology Clinic at 974-2645.
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What To Expect During Your Allergy Skin Testing Appointment
Skin tests are methods of testing for allergic antibodies. A test consists of introducing small amounts of the suspected substance, or allergen, into the skin and noting the development of a positive reaction . The results are read at 15 minutes after the application of the allergen. You will be tested to important airborne allergens and possibly some foods.
possibly some foods
The skin testing appointment generally takes 60 minutes. If you have a specific allergic sensitivity to one of the allergens, a red, raised, itchy bump will appear on your skin within 15 minutes. These positive reactions will gradually disappear over a period of 30 to 60 minutes, and, typically, no treatment is necessary for this itchiness.
Occasionally local swelling at a test site will begin 4 to 8 hours after the skin tests are applied, particularly at sites of intradermal testing. These reactions are not serious and will disappear over the next week or so. They should be measured and reported to your physician at your next visit.
1. No prescription or over the counter oral antihistamines should be used 4 to 5 days prior to scheduled skin testing. These include cold tablets, sinus tablets, hay fever medications, or oral treatments for itchy skin, over the counter allergy medications, such as Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra, Actifed, Dimetapp, Benadryl, and many others.
How Allergy Testing In Babies Is Done
After you consult with your pediatrician, they will more often than not send you to an allergist trained in pediatrics to begin the evaluation period.
There are a few different options for testing for food allergies, including the skin prick test, a blood test, an oral food challenge test, and an elimination diet.
The skin prick test and blood test help identify if your body has an immune mediated reaction to the protein found in a specific food and an antibody known as Ig-E .
However, just because your child may experience a reaction to the skin prick test when exposed to the potentially allergenic food or tests positive for the Ig-E antibody in their blood, this does not necessarily mean they have a food allergy. Skin prick tests and blood tests both experience a 50-60% false positive result. Lets jump into now what each different test looks like.
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Top 10 Tips For Getting Over An Allergic Reaction
14/03/2011 by Ruth Holroyd
This week Im recovering from a particularly nasty allergy flare up. It was the usual scenario. When I cook at home everything is fine. When I eat out even if Im really careful, things can and do go badly wrong. With me I can eat the food fine, no swelling, no anaphylaxis, but there are some little ingredients, which I have not yet identified which send me into a spin. These are things that I am just intolerant to, not allergic. Just intolerant seems to indicate the reaction might be quite mild, but let me tell you, I can be knocked completely sideways by some of these nasty foods Im intolerant to.
Ive been lucky lately. Its been a while since I had a major flare up like this. Thats because I am very very careful about what I eat and am always prepared. However, this weekend, at my nieces 5th birthday party I succumbed to the Tescos Chinese Selection. They were calling to me. Normally I wouldnt have even gone near, but the packet said it contained No Nuts so that was one tick in the box. It also said that it contained Sesame, wheat, gluten, fish and soya. These are all things I can eat. No mention of the dreaded dairy. I still read the full ingredients list thoroughly and couldnt see anything that sounded nasty, but I think I was coriandered!
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
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What Happens If I Have An Allergy
Depending on the allergy, your healthcare provider may recommend one or more of these steps:
- Minimize exposure to allergens: Avoid ones that cause severe reactions, such as latex or certain foods.
- Take daily allergy medications: Antihistamines can prevent or reduce allergic rhinitis and other symptoms.
- Get allergy shots: This type of immunotherapy can decrease the immune systems response to certain allergens like pet dander. You should get allergy shots for three to five years to experience maximum benefit. Allergy shots can be costly, but they often provide long-lasting relief, even after the shot series is completed.
- Have a medical alert card: A card or medical alert jewelry lets others know about your severe allergy. It tells them you could have an anaphylactic response to peanuts, bee stings or other allergens.
- Carry an epinephrine injection: Keep this medicine with you at all times if youre at risk for an anaphylactic allergic reaction.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Allergic reactions can range from annoying congestion to life-threatening anaphylactic shock. Allergy tests can identify substances that cause these types of allergic reactions. There are different allergy tests. Your healthcare provider will choose the best test for you based on symptoms and potential allergy triggers. If you have allergies, you can take steps to get symptom relief.
Tips To Prepare Your Child For Allergy Testing:
We require patients to stop certain medications 3-5 days before the test. If your child is already on antihistamines, other allergy medication, or is taking over-the-counter cold medicines, they should be stopped, as they may interfere with the test results. Please see a complete list here.
Bring a Distraction
We recommend bringing a comfort toy, book, or an electronic tablet to distract your child. While it is not painful after the skin test, patients may get itchy and uncomfortable from the reactions. A toy can help pass time and distract them during the long initial appointment.
Talking to Your Child About the Allergy Test
Tests and going to the doctor can sound scary to a child. Reassure them that the test will not be painful, and explain to them it is necessary to learn what they are allergic to and will help them feel better.
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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.
Allergy Testing & Immunotherapy
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I expect after the allergy testing?
Once your allergy skin test is complete, your allergy clinician will talk with you about the allergies you have and what is the best treatment to manage them. You will be given information to take home and read about each of your allergies. We will schedule a visit to talk to your primary care provider about the skin test results and the best way to manage your allergies.
Why should I consider immunotherapy?
What are the long-term cost savings with immunotherapy?
A recent study demonstrated the following cost reductions from receiving Immunotherapy versus other treatment options without Immunotherapy:
Year 1: Symptoms Improve Year 2: Cost savings of 15% Year 3: Cost savings of 48%
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Risks Of Allergy Skin Testing
The most common risk of skin testing is that raised, itchy bumps will appear at the test sites, indicating a possible allergy to those substances. You can use a mild cortisone cream to ease itching. In very rare circumstances, a more serious reaction can occur, which is why it is important that testing be done in a controlled setting with quick access to medical care.
Why Is Allergy Skin Testing Used
Your doctor may recommend allergy skin testing to diagnose the cause of allergy symptoms from the following types of allergens:
Environmental allergens including mold, dust mites, pet dander, or tree pollen
Food allergens including peanuts, milk, wheat and eggs
Medications including penicillin
Ask your doctor about all of your testing options and consider getting a second opinion before deciding on allergy skin testing.
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