What are the benefits of allergy testing/and how can I schedule testing?
Allergy tests, combined with the knowledge of your allergist to interpret them, can give precise information about what you are and are not allergic to. For instance, if you wheeze when you are at home and don’t know why, you don’t have to get rid of your cat if your allergy testing shows you are allergic to dust mites but not cats. With this information, you and your allergist can develop a treatment plan to manage or even get rid of your symptoms.
If you are concerned that allergies may contribute to your symptoms, you can call our office (904-636-9100) to consult an allergist/immunologist. Allergy testing will be done after you meet with your allergist to discuss your symptoms. This allows for more focused and age-appropriate testing. If testing is done on the same day as your new patient appointment, you can expect to be in the office for 60 to 90 minutes.
What symptoms should prompt me to be seen and what will be tested?
Testing done by an allergist is generally safe and effective for adults and children of all ages. Symptoms that usually prompt the allergist to perform skin testing include:
- Respiratory: itchy eyes, nose or throat; nasal congestion, runny nose, watery eyes, chest congestion, cough or wheezing
- Skin: hives, itchiness or atopic dermatitis
- Abdominal: cramping and diarrhea or constipation consistently after eating certain foods
- Severe reactions to stinging insect stings (other than swelling at the site of the sting)
- Anaphylaxis (pronounced an-a-fi-LAK-sis): a serious allergic reaction that affects many parts of the body at the same time
Most symptoms are caused by one or more of these allergens:
- Dust mites (tiny bugs you can’t see) that live in your home
- Proteins from furry pets, which are found in their dander, saliva and urine (it’s actually not their hair)
- Molds in your home or in the air outside
- Tree, grass and weed pollen
- Cockroach body parts and droppings
More serious allergic reactions can be caused by:
- Venom from the stings of bees, wasps, yellow jackets, fire ants and other stinging insects
- Certain foods
- Natural rubber latex
- Certain medications and drugs
What is skin testing?
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 scratch or “prick” on the surface of your skin.
If you have allergies, just a little swelling (a hive) will occur where the allergen(s) which you are allergic to 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.
You don’t have to wait long to find out what is triggering your allergies. Reactions occur within about 15 minutes. And you generally won’t have any other symptoms besides the small hives where the tests were done, which go away within 30 minutes. 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.
Skin tests have to be done in an allergist’s office to minimize the risk of rare side effects.
What are challenge tests and when are they used?
In a challenge test, a very small amount of an allergen is taken by mouth. Challenges are done mostly with potential food or medication allergies, and it is very important that they be supervised by an allergist in his/her office.
- Most people with nagging allergy symptoms don’t realize how much better they can feel once their symptoms are properly diagnosed and treated.
- Allergy testing analyzed by an allergist can pinpoint what you are allergic to.
- Testing done by an allergist is generally safe and practically painless.
Want to find out more about Skin Testing? Please get in touch with our office.