Understanding the Different Types of Allergy Testing

Understanding the Different Types of Allergy Testing

Allergies are the sixth most common chronic condition in America, with more than 50 million Americans diagnosed with them. Although allergies are common, individual allergy symptoms and allergens vary. 

Allergies develop when your immune system reacts to a substance 一 allergens include dust, pollen, pet dander, medications, and food 一 and causes a reaction. Reactions can vary depending on the type of allergy, but common issues include itching, watery eyes, sneezing, edema, hives, swelling, and, in severe cases, anaphylaxis. 

At best, allergies cause disruptive, annoying symptoms that interfere with the quality of your life, and at their worst, allergies can cause potentially life-threatening symptoms. This makes identifying your allergies even more crucial to your overall health and well-being. 

Our team at Regional Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Center helps confirm and identify all of your allergies with state-of-the-art allergy testing. Depending on your specific needs, we may recommend a particular type of allergy testing. 

Skin allergy testing

Skin testing goes by many names: skin prick test, puncture test, and scratch test. Regardless of what you call it, it’s the most common type of allergy test. Skin allergy testing is performed in-office, and you’ll see reactions (if any) in about 15 minutes. 

To find out which substances bother you, your Regional Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Center provider pricks your skin with a tiny lancet that contains a very diluted allergen. Because the needle (lancet) is so small, skin allergy testing doesn’t typically hurt and doesn’t cause bleeding.

We can test multiple substances at once, and if you’re allergic to a specific allergen, that area becomes itchy, red, and swollen. The reaction is small and resembles a bug bite. 

Open challenges

Although food and environmental allergies are the most often discussed, they aren’t the only type of allergies. Many people may experience drug allergies. Aspirin, antibiotics such as penicillin, and anti-seizure medications can also cause allergic reactions.

If you suspect that you’re allergic to a specific medication, our team may suggest an open drug challenge. We also conduct these tests in our office. After our team administers the suspected medication, we continue to monitor you for a reaction. If you do develop a reaction, we’re on hand to provide the necessary care, such as medications or epinephrine. 

The same open challenge format can be used to test for food allergies. 

Blood test

An allergy blood test identifies the allergen that causes your symptoms by analyzing immunoglobulin E (IgE) in your blood. Because IgE indicates the presence of  antibodies your immune system produces to fight off the threatening allergens, high IgE can indicate that you have allergies. The test can help detect allergies to foods, pollen, and pets.

Unlike the prick test, this test can take a few days because the blood work is examined in a lab. The process for a blood allergy test is the same as any other blood work you’ve had in the past. Because you aren’t exposed to any allergens, you don’t develop any reactions from this test.

What happens after your allergy test?

The goal of your allergy test is to confirm if you have allergies and what allergens trigger your symptoms. Once we pinpoint the allergen 一 or allergens 一 responsible for your symptoms, we devise a customized treatment plan that helps eliminate your symptoms. We also provide guidance on reducing your exposure to your allergens. 

Potential treatments include:

If you have severe allergies, we may also prescribe an epinephrine autoinjector to use in the event of an accidental exposure. 

If you struggle with the symptoms of allergies but aren’t sure what allergens cause those symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Call 423-246-6445 to set up an allergy testing appointment at any of our three locations: Kingsport or Johnson, Tennessee, or Abingdon, Virginia.

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