5. Understanding different types of allergy testing.
Doctors can perform different tests to help diagnose someone with a specific allergy. Yes, there is the skin prick or scratch test. This is where the specialist uses a thin needle to prick the skin on your back or forearm. The specialist uses anywhere from 10 to 50 different potential allergens (via Cleveland Clinic). However, the doctor may decide to do what is known as a scratch test. This involves placing droplets of potential allergens onto your skin and using a device to puncture the area by scratching the droplet lightly. If your skin prick test results are negative or inconclusive, your provider may inject small amounts of the allergen into the outer layer of your skin, called an intradermal skin test (via Healthline). This test checks for allergies to medications, insect stings, and airborne irritants.
4. More details you should know about allergy testing.
Another test that was also already mentioned was a blood test. This is where the lab adds allergens to the blood sample and measure the levels of IgE antibodies in it. Blood tests, however, can give a higher rate of false-positive results. A different allergy test, called a patch test, can also be done. This test helps to determine the cause of contact dermatitis. A drop of an allergen on the skin of your arm is covered with a bandage. Sometimes, the dressing already has the allergen on it before placing it on your skin.
This bandage stays on for 48 to 96 hours (via Cleveland Clinic). After that time has passed, you are able to go home, of course. Then, you return, and they will remove the bandage to check your skin for a rash or any other reaction. Another test they can perform is called the challenge test (via Healthline). This test is done only under a provider’s direct in-person supervision. This is where someone who has a suspected food or drug allergy ingests a small amount of an allergen. This is why medical supervision is a must. If you develop anaphylaxis, your doctor can give an epinephrine injection to stop the potentially life-threatening reaction.
You can buy over-the-counter allergy test kits or online at your local drug store. However, these tests are not very reliable. Some of these tests don’t test for the correct antibodies (via Cleveland Clinic). You are also more likely to get a false positive, which may lead you to avoid unnecessarily certain foods or substances (via Cleveland Clinic).. However, you can understand why some would instead go the home testing route over going into a clinic to get testing done professionally. Not all health insurances fully cover the cost of allergy tests at your healthcare provider’s office. The costs for testing can range anywhere from $200 up to $1000. It’s a good idea to ask your insurer about your plan’s policies, so you know what to expect from them. It’s best to get allergy tests with a medical expert, of course, even with the costs of having them done. They not only are more accurate, but they can also read the results to you and discuss any treatment options with you, as well.
There are a few things you can do if you have an allergy. Depending on the allergy you may have, your healthcare provider may recommend one or more different options that you can do to help treat your allergies. Antihistamines can reduce or even prevent allergic rhinitis and other symptoms, so taking a daily allergy medication may be suggested (via Cleveland Clinic). Easier said than done. Your doctor may also suggest minimizing exposure to allergens. For example, avoiding allergens that cause severe reactions, such as certain foods or latex, will help.
You can also get allergy shots to treat your allergies, as well. This type of immunotherapy can decrease the immune system’s response to specific allergens like pet dander. Having a medical alert card, bracelet, or necklace with you is also a good idea (via Mayo Clinic). This card or medical alert jewelry lets others know about your severe allergy. It tells others that you could have an anaphylactic response to bee stings, peanuts, or other allergens. Carrying epinephrine on you if you happen to have a severe allergy with major side effects is also essential. This is in case you are at risk for an anaphylactic allergic reaction. Does somebody nearby know you have an allergy? If you cannot administer it yourself, they can use it on you.
1. Complications from having an allergic reaction.
With allergies and allergy symptoms, there come complications in most cases. Having an allergy to anything increases your risk of specific other medical problems, so talking with your doctor about your allergies and symptoms is a good idea. More mild complications, but still important to treat are sinusitis and infections of the ears or lungs (via Mayo Clinic). Your risk of getting these conditions happens to be higher if you have hay fever or asthma (via Mayo Clinic).
If you have yet to be diagnosed with asthma but have an allergic reaction to anything, your healthcare provider may bring it up. Suppose they don’t mention it; in that case, you should. Asthma is an immune system reaction that affects your airways and breathing. In many cases, exposure to an allergen in the environment triggers it. This is known as allergy-induced asthma. As mentioned, anaphylaxis is a significant complication. If you have severe allergies, you are at an increased risk of this severe allergy-induced reaction no matter what it’s to. The most common triggers of anaphylaxis are medications, food, and insect stings.