Before You Go: Allergy Test

Before You Go: Allergy Test

If you are allergic, you are not alone. More than 50 million Americans have allergies, making them the sixth most common cause of chronic disease. But it is not enough to know that you are one of the millions who suffer. To treat allergies more effectively, you first need to know what causes your allergies. Allergy tests are for quick and painless detection. Here is what you need to know about allergy tests before the appointment.

What are allergies and allergy testing

An allergy is a reaction of the immune system to certain triggers, known as allergies. Some types of allergies are: seasonal allergies such as pollen and certain types of mold; Perennial allergies, which are usually caused by dust mites, and cat or dog hair; And food allergies. Wheat, eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, and shellfish are the most common sources of food allergies, but any food can cause an allergy.

If you want to know your specific allergens, you will need an allergy test. There are two types: skin test and blood test. "Both are equally valid and very good at detecting allergies, and overall, comparable tests are considered," says Christopher Weber, MD, an allergist with Lone Tree, Sky Ridge Medical Center in Colorado.

How is the allergy test done?

Although both tests are simple and accurate, blood testing is more convenient. Dr. According to Weber, a blood test can be done at your primary doctor's office at any time of the day, it does not require an empty stomach and you do not need to stop taking allergy medications. The drawback is that the test results take longer to process: you'll get them within a week, Weber says.

According to Weber, a skin test should be done in a dermatologist's office, and you cannot take antihistamines for five to seven days before the test - but you will have results in about 20 minutes. Weber explains this process: An allergist rubs pieces of plastic that are immersed in various allergens - foods, pet drains, or pollen from various trees, grasses and grasses - on your back.

A positive skin test will cause a hive or last about 20 minutes. It doesn't hurt, says Weber. "It is usually very fast, sometimes feels like a small hit that is barely noticeable, causing no bleeding, and is tolerated at all ages," he says. "But it itches. Everyone is worried about the injury, but forgets the itch."

False negative and false positive

Weber states that there are two conditions that can lead to false negatives or false positives in an allergy test, and it is the job of an allergist to interpret the results of the test. One in four people with seasonal allergy symptoms are not actually allergic; Instead, they have irritable rhinitis (also known as nonalargic rhinitis), which has many symptoms similar to allergies but does not involve the immune system. According to Weber the trigger includes cigarette smoke, strong odor, dust and air pollution. Allergy testing may be negative, but it does not mean a person does not have symptoms, he says.

On the other hand, testing for food allergies can sometimes lead to false positives. This means that there is an immune system response to allergen, but no symptoms. "The test correctly measures the presence of an allergic antibody, but an allergic allergy antibody plus the presence of symptoms," Weber says. "Having a positive test does not by itself mean that you have allergies."

What can you do about allergies

Once you get the results of your test and you know what your allergy is, how do you manage your allergy? For food allergies, just avoid allergen and have an epipen ready if you come in contact with it.

For seasonal allergies, the first step is tracking pollen counts, so you know when to expect symptoms. When the pollen count is more than moderate, Weber states:

Keep the windows of your house closed so that pollen does not enter.

Shower at night, so pollen does not pass from your hair to your pillow while you sleep.

Exercise inside instead of outside.

Weber also recommends replacing your air filter every one to three months. Don't bother with expensive "allergy-free" filters. Being cheap and replacing them often usually leads to better results.

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