It's important to pinpoint exactly what's sparking your allergy symptoms in the first place. Even if you think you know, it's good to check again down the road because allergies to new substances can develop. Allergy testing from a board-certified allergist or immunologist should take place if you find your symptoms are not being adequately controlled. Allergy tests are practically painless, and because they're more accurate than they used to be, they may actually detect precisely what's causing your allergy symptoms, which in turn will help your doctor tailor an effective treatment plan that works for you. Simple tests like the skin-prick test can help uncover allergies to many common substances, including dust mites, pet dander, mold and pollen.
1 AnswerMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answeredIf you are newly diagnosed with, or have been living with, allergies, chances are you may have some questions, and may be experiencing some strong emotions such as fear, anger, and confusion. The same can be said if you are newly diagnosed with chemical sensitivities.
Whether you're working with sensitivities or allergies, your body has been in a state of "coping" for some time. This type of coping actually contributes to your fatigue. Your doctor and health care team can help you create a plan that will help you manage your allergies and sensitivities, which could be involved in other conditions such as asthma and skin disorders. The foundational elements of an effective plan are good nutrition and diet, daily activity or exercise, and stress reduction. You'll want to work closely with your team and monitor any changes in your immune system function -- and your overall health -- and adjust your diet and exercise program accordingly.
It is very important that you learn to work with your feelings and any underlying dynamics that will either support good health or set you back.
1 AnswerMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered
To determine exactly what is at the root of your allergic reaction(s), your doctor or health care provider will want to do some tests. This is a basic list. There are some additional tests that better identify food sensitivities. Any of these tests will help determine your treatment.
- Radioallergosorbent Test (RAST)
- Immunoglobulin G (IgG) Food Sensitivity Profile
- Skin Patch Testing
A RAST (radioallergosorbent) blood test looks for specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in your blood. If the antibodies are present, it most likely indicates a true allergic reaction. RAST is the safest type of allergy test, but compared with a skin prick test, it takes longer to produce results and it can't test for as many allergens at once.
This type of allergy test is typically used only in special circumstances where skin testing is not advised -- for example, if a person has a severe skin condition or is taking certain medications.
2 AnswersTo diagnose your seasonal allergies, including whether -- and which -- allergens may be causing your symptoms, your doctor may order one or more of the following tests:
- Skin Prick or Puncture Test -- A skin prick test is a simple allergy testing procedure in which a number of allergens (in droplets) are placed on the skin -- usually on the forearm, upper arm, or back. The skin is then gently pricked, which allows the allergens to get into the skin cells. If this produces an allergic response -- temporary redness, swelling and itching at the test spot -- it means you're sensitive to that allergen. And the greater the reaction, the more likely it is that you're not only sensitive to it but also allergic to it. Reactions to skin prick allergy tests usually appear fairly quickly, within 15-20 minutes. But it's also possible to have a delayed reaction several hours later. If this happens, notify your doctor or nurse.
- Intradermal Test -- This test is similar to a skin prick test, but the allergens are injected under the skin using a syringe and a much more dilute solution. The intradermal allergy testing procedure is typically used when results from skin prick tests are unclear or if repeated tests have not triggered a reaction to any allergens.
- Antibody Blood Test (RAST) -- A RAST (radioallergosorbent) blood test looks for specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in your blood. If the antibodies are present, it most likely indicates a true allergic reaction. RAST is the safest type of allergy test, but compared with a skin prick test, it takes longer to produce results and it can't test for as many allergens at once.
This type of allergy test is typically used only in special circumstances where skin testing is not advised -- for example, if a person has a severe skin condition or is taking certain medications. Ask your doctor about the risks versus the benefits of both the skin prick test and the RAST blood test.
2 AnswersAllergy tests are very important, but they are often not necessary. A very substantial proportion of the time, they could be avoided through a thorough history by a good allergist who knows what questions to ask, which ones not to ask, and how to interpret the information provided by the patient or the patient's parents.
1 AnswerThe delayed hypersensitivity (TB or candida skin tests) test is a descendant of the old tine test, and utilizes either the familiar PPD tuberculin, or candida, mumps, or other substances that most people have been exposed to at one time in their lives. The process involves injecting a few drops under the skin, usually on the forearm. The physician observes the site in 72 hours for a reaction. In a normally functioning immune system, the candida or mumps sites should show a raised, red area. This test is also qualitative as it determines the function of the T cell or cell-mediated system.
1 AnswerLarry Chiaramonte, Allergy & Immunology, answeredWhen I was training, I had a mentor named Alan Pearlman who told me, "I never test for allergies." I thought he was crazy. Well, if he was, then I am almost crazy, because I test less and less.
As you develop clinical experience, you find that a good history is much more important than any lab report. Sometimes I will test to confirm what I already suspect.
Patients and parents of patients don't always like this. They will say, "If you don't test, what am I paying you for?" I tell them, "You are paying me to use all my experience to make you (or your child) better."
1 AnswerScience shows us that skin tests and blood tests for allergies don't really measure the same things. The antibodies that register in a blood test have a half-life of two days. They come and go without putting your immune system on a state of red alert. The ones that react in the skin have a half-life of six to eight weeks, which means that your body is ready to strike for a protracted period.
1 AnswerA general practitioner can read diagnostic lab reports showing, say, that a patient has allergic antibodies to pollen and nuts, but not to cat dander, or any number of other combinations. However, the bigger question is whether the tests conflict with or support the patient's history, or whether the expense and time involved could have been avoided just by listening to the patient with a trained ear. The science is there, but you don't have to look at all the molecules every time.