Allergies occur when our bodies overreact to certain substances that they come in contact with. These substances can be inhaled, ingested or touched. These substances, called allergens, are seen as harmful by the body even if they truly are not. When contact is made, the body’s immune system goes into attack mode and mounts up a defense to try to eliminate the allergen. Allergic responses can vary from a mild, annoying runny nose to severe, life threatening reactions that interfere with breathing.
When people first experience an allergic reaction, they don’t often know what caused it. It may take a few times before the cause becomes clear. For some Dayton allergy patients, allergy testing is the only way to know for sure what is causing the allergic reactions. A thorough history and exam by a medical professional will also shed light on possible causes. Three common forms of allergy testing are IgE skin testing, challenge tests and blood tests.
IgE skin allergy testing, also known as ‘skin prick’ or ‘scratch testing’ is administered by a trained technician in a medical office and is considered generally safe for children and adults alike. Skin testing is considered by many professionals as the most comprehensive form of allergy testing. It is best for detecting substances that will cause immediate allergic reactions. Allergens are identified by the skin’s reaction when certain substances are introduced into the skin through a tiny prick. It is relatively painless but can cause some irritation and itching at the testing site. Most reactions will look like what typically happens with a mosquito bite, a red small wheal on the skin. As many as forty different types of allergens can be tested in a single testing session. The skin pricks are typically done on the forearms and/or the back.
Challenge testing is another form of allergy testing and is performed by inhaling or ingesting a very small amount of a substance to see if a reaction is triggered. It is very important that challenge testing is performed under the supervision of a medical professional and not done at home or alone as allergic reactions can be unpredictable. Blood tests are much more controlled and are probably the most tolerable and helpful when skin or challenge tests may be unsafe or inaccurate due to current medications or skin conditions that may interfere with results.
Regardless of what test is chosen and what the results are, allergy testing is not enough to diagnose an allergy. The results must be interpreted in light of a thorough medical history and exam by a trained medical professional. There also exists many tests for allergies that may be unsafe, unsubstantiated, inaccurate or just plain worthless so be sure you seek the care and opinion of experienced, board-certified medical.
Our Dayton allergy testing patients find the overall experience from testing to treatment to be very rewarding, giving back the quality of life that allergies can take from us. If you’re interested in being tested for allergies, schedule a consultation and we will assist you as soon as possible.