How Do I Know What I’m Allergic To?

If you have symptoms of allergies, but you don’t know what you’re allergic to, allergy testing can help. Without knowing what causes your allergic reactions, you may be needlessly exposing yourself to allergens. When you get tested to learn which substances trigger your allergies, your doctor can recommend the best treatment.

At Regional Allergy Asthma & Immunology Center, we have three types of allergy tests available, and we can recommend what testing is most appropriate and helpful for you.

Skin allergy testing

Skin allergy testing is the most well-known type of allergy test. In this type of test we typically usually use your arm, or sometimes other locations, like your back. Your provider pricks your skin with a very diluted allergen and monitors for a reaction. If you’re allergic to one of them, the skin in that area will react.

Skin allergy testing has several benefits. One advantage is the speed -- you’ll know very quickly if you’re allergic to any of the substances. Skin allergy tests are also quite accurate and often less expensive than other forms of allergy testing.

However, if you take certain allergy medications, you’ll need to stop taking them a week prior to having skin allergy tests. That can be problematic because you may experience allergy symptoms while you’re off the meds. Also, if you’ve ever had a severe allergic reaction, your doctor may not want to risk performing a skin allergy test.

Blood tests

In some cases, your Regional Allergy Asthma & Immunology Center provider may suggest a blood test to find out what you’re allergic to. As with scratch testing, there are benefits and drawbacks to having a blood test.

For some small children, blood tests may be preferable, because it’s a single needle stick rather than the process of multiple scratches, which although not painful, may seem scary to a child. In addition, if the skin reacts to an allergen, it may be itchy, and it’s harder for small children not to scratch the spots while waiting for the full reaction.

An advantage of blood testing for children and adults is that you can keep taking your allergy medication without interruption. The medicine doesn’t interfere with the accuracy of a blood test, so there’s no need for you to stop taking it ahead of time and have to deal with allergy symptoms for a week.

The results of a blood test aren’t as fast as with scratch testing but you’ll know within a couple of days. You also won’t have any itchy spots where your skin reacted to the allergens.

Open drug challenge

Regional Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Center offers the open drug challenge test to patients who experience an allergic reaction after taking a medication. During the in-office open drug challenge, your provider administers the suspected medication and monitors for a reaction. 

The team also uses the open drug challenge to test for food allergies.

Immunotherapy therapy

If your test results reveal that you’re sensitive to particular allergens, we may suggest a personalized immunotherapy program. Immunotherapy is a long-term injection plan that can lead to decreased symptoms even after your shots are finished.

Based on your allergy test results, your immunotherapy is designed to meet your unique needs. Allergen extracts are created just for you, based on the specific substances you’re allergic to and what environmental factors you’re exposed to at work and at home on a daily basis.

Once the immunotherapy has been designed, you’ll receive shots on a schedule determined by your Regional Allergy Asthma & Immunology Center provider. At some point, you may even be able to take home your vials of allergy serum and self-administer the injections. By managing the injections yourself, you’ll save time and money by not making as many trips to the office.

If you’re suffering from allergies and would like to be tested, call our office or click the “request appointment” button here on the website to get started.

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