What is Allergy Testing?
Allergy testing is when a healthcare provider tests a patient to determine what substances their immune system is hypersensitive to. Immune systems are built to fight off foreign substances that may be harmful to the body, such as viruses and bacteria. Although a new entity entering the body may be harmless, the immune system sometimes perceives unfamiliar substances as a threat, which results in an allergic reaction.
It is important to perform allergy testing when allergies significantly affect a person’s quality of life.
Who is a Good Candidate for Allergy Testing?
Patients exhibiting symptoms of an allergic reaction may require allergy testing if they are uncertain of what is causing their symptoms. Some signs that a patient may be having an allergic reaction include:
- Rash or hives
- Stuffy nose
- Watery eyes
- Coughing and sneezing
- Shortness of breath
Types of Allergy Testing
There are a variety of different types of allergy tests that you may receive from your physician at Northeast Allergy.
Skin Prick Test
The most common type of allergy test, the skin prick test, involves pricking the top layers of your skin with small needles that contain potential allergens to see if any symptoms arise. If a patient is allergic or hypersensitive to any of the substances, a reaction will typically occur within 15 minutes of exposure.
Intradermal Skin Test
If a skin prick test does not yield any positive results, an intradermal allergy test may be completed. This assessment involves injecting an allergen underneath the skin into the epidermis. It may be more effective than a skin prick test because it places the potential allergen deeper into the body, which can yield more accurate results.
In this type of allergy testing, a patch or bandage that contains allergens is placed onto the skin and left on for 48 hours. If there is a rash or other type of allergic reaction present where the patch was located, it usually suggests that the patient is allergic to one or more of the allergens. Patch testing is ideal for determining the cause of contact dermatitis.
A blood allergy test is used if you are at risk of potentially having a severe allergic reaction to a skin test. A blood test is able to identify the presence of IgE in your bloodstream, which are antibodies that the immune system creates in response to allergens to cause an allergic reaction.
This type of allergy testing is only done under a provider’s in-person supervision and involves exposing a patient to an allergen in a controlled environment and observing how their body reacts to it. For example, if a person suspects that they have a peanut allergy, they may be exposed to peanuts under controlled conditions such as:
- Skin contact with peanuts
- Ingesting small amounts of peanuts
Exposure is gradually increased to monitor if there are any allergic reactions that occur. In the case that a reaction does happen, your allergist is there to quickly provide an epinephrine injection if needed.
An elimination diet is one that cuts out certain foods to determine what foods are causing an individual’s allergies. It starts by removing any possible food allergens that the individual may be sensitive to. Next, the diet gradually reintroduces potentially problematic foods to see which foods are causing a reaction.
Contact Northeast Allergy
At Northeast Allergy, we provide numerous types of allergy testing to help our patients identify any hypersensitivities that they may have. If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of an allergic reaction and you are not sure why, contact Northeast Allergy today.