WHY IS ALLERGY DIAGNOSTIC TESTING DONE?
Allergy tests are performed to determine if a patient’s immune system will overreact to certain allergens. The dermatologist diagnoses the patient with an allergy if that patient has an allergic reaction shown by the test. It is usually advised to have an allergy test it the patient has asthma for example. The test can identify the allergens that cause severe asthma symptoms or asthma attacks.
An allergy test is also required if the patient has a major allergic reaction. The cause of this severe reaction is identified through the patient’s medical history and an allergy test.
The patient can get allergic rhinitis or hay fever if he/she is allergic to pollen, pet dander, dust and other allergens found in the air. The symptoms of these allergies include itchy and watery eyes, headache, sneezing, sore throat, nasal congestion or runny nose, cough, shortness of breath and wheezing.
Some patients can be allergic to metals like nickel and latex. In those cases, the patients can get contact dermatitis or swelling and hives, rash, blisters, itchiness or experience burning sensations on the skin. These allergy symptoms are usually determined with a patch test.
When a patient is allergic to a certain food, the symptoms can occur 30 minutes to 2 hours after ingestion of that food. The symptoms include swelling of the face, tongue or lips, hives and itching, and respiratory difficulties like coughing, wheezing, throat tightness or shortness of breath. Other symptoms include GI symptoms like abdominal pain, cramps, nausea, vomiting and cardiovascular reactions like pale skin, dizziness or weak pulse.
In order to prevent serious reactions to some allergens, it is beneficial to have an allergy test, find out which allergens are causing the symptoms and control these symptoms properly.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF ALLERGY TESTS?
Allergy tests are performed to determine which allergens or allergy triggers cause the body to overreact to them. The tests identify if the patient’s immune system produces antibodies called immunoglobulin E or IgE. These antibodies are also known as proteins whose chemicals trigger allergic reactions.
There are different ways to perform allergy tests. The dermatologist chooses the most effective test based on the patient’s allergy symptoms.
This test can identify the cause of contact dermatitis. The dermatologist introduces droplets of various allergens onto the patient’s arm and puts a bandage over the droplets. Or the dermatologist can place a bandage that is already filled with allergens. The patient keeps the bandage for up to 96 hours when the dermatologist removes the bandage to identify if the patient’s skin has developed a rash or other symptoms of applied allergens.
If this test is necessary for identifying allergies, the patient needs to get a blood sample tested in the laboratory. The allergens are introduced into the patient’s blood sample and levels of IgE antibodies are then measured. Sometimes, blood allergy tests can show falsely positive or negative results.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF ALLERGY TESTING?
Allergic reactions vary from mild like nasal congestion to severe like anaphylactic shock. Therefore getting a proper allergy test can make the patient’s life much easier.
There are many benefits of allergic testing.
Allergy test show allergens that trigger allergic reactions so the patient can treat and control those reactions properly. Some treatments include changing diet or avoiding other allergens.
For example, the patient can change his/her diet by avoiding the whole food group that triggers allergic symptoms. The patient can still have a nutritious diet with the rest of the food groups.
After allergy tests, the patient knows which allergens cause his/her allergy reactions and can avoid them. For example, if the patient finds out that he/she is allergic to animal dander, he/she may change his mind about having a pet.
When the patient discovers that he/she is allergic to environmental and air allergens, he/she can take the medications only when these allergens are high in the air and not all the time. For example, if the patient is allergic to pollen, he/she may avoid exposure to it too much in the summer when this allergen is the highest. Also, grass pollen is the major allergen that causes hay fever. Or if the patient is allergic to tree pollen, he/she should avoid exposure to it in the spring when this allergen is the highest in the count.
On the whole, the biggest benefit of getting an allergy test is preventing the risk of developing severe allergic reactions.