Allergies And Allergen Testing

If you've experienced excessive sneezing and itchy eyes, this may have caused you to wonder if you have allergies. If you're not sure you have allergies but are experiencing some of the symptoms, it's a good idea to go to the doctor and receive allergen testing

What Are Allergies?

Allergies are the reactions that someone may have to allergens. Common allergens can include:

  • Pollen
  • Bees
  • Latex
  • Certain foods
  • Mold
  • Medicines
  • Pets

Allergen testing is important because depending on the type of allergy someone may have, their body can react in different ways. 

Allergic Reactions

The most dangerous allergic reaction is anaphylactic shock. This reaction is almost immediate and can be fatal if not treated immediately. It is recommended to get to the emergency room as soon as possible if someone is in anaphylactic shock. 

Signs of anaphylactic shock can include:

  • Wheezing
  • Swelling of lips and tongue
  • Throat closing up
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Stomach pain or bloating
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Skin rashes or hives

Not all allergic reactions will result in an immediate anaphylaxis reaction, some allergic reactions can stop at skin rashes and hives. There are types of allergic reactions that can take a few days to display symptoms. 

Allergen Testing Methods

If going forward with allergen testing is something you'd like to do, you will need to consult your doctor, or an allergist, to determine which test is right for your situation. 

Skin Prick Test

The skin prick test will usually be done on the forearm or upper back. This test involves using a small tool called a lancet to prick a small amount of the potential allergen into your skin. The results will only take a few minutes. If you develop a red, itchy bump on the test site, this means you do have an allergy. 

This test can test for things like:

  • Environmental allergens
  • Food allergens
  • Insect allergens
  • Medication allergens

Intradermal Skin Test

The intradermal skin test is very similar to the skin prick test. The main difference is that using this method, the potential allergen is injected just beneath the skin's surface. If a red, itchy bump appears at the test site, an allergy has been detected. 

Blood Tests

For some, it is more beneficial to receive a blood test to determine if they're allergic to something. For example, if someone already actively has a rash, it would not be a good idea to try a skin test to determine an allergy. Blood allergy tests look for the antibodies in your body that are linked to allergic reactions.

Food Challenge

The food challenge is used to test for food allergies. This should always be done in a controlled environment with medical supervision. This test requires you to be given doses of a potential allergen. After each dose, there is an observation period.