According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, more than 50 million Americans of all ages experiences allergies every year. This includes chronic allergies as well as seasonal reactions. Some are fortunate enough to only deal with sneezing or a runny nose as a result of allergies. Others, on the other hand, suffer far more severe results.
Allergies are a real and potentially life-threatening problem for many people. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to determine what your allergens are without some form of exposure, which runs the risk of a reaction. But under the supervision of medical professionals, allergy tests are safe. The results will tell both you and your doctor what you should avoid and how best to handle your allergy going forward.
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Why Should You Get an Allergy Test?
As stated earlier, millions of Americans live with ongoing allergies. Sometimes the cause is easy to identify. For instance, if you start sneezing when you’re around a cat but are fine the rest of the time, it’s safe to assume you’re allergic to cats. But not every cause is so easy to pinpoint. Allergic reactions can occur after exposure to any number of triggers, including:
- Dust mites
- Certain metals (typically noticed when wearing jewelry, especially earrings)
- Penicillin, aspirin, or related medicines
- Dairy products
- Nuts (especially tree nuts or peanuts)
- Fish and/or shellfish
- Soy products
- Wheat and/or gluten
A typical American diet contains several foods known to be common allergens, and most of us are exposed to pollen or bugs on a semi-regular basis. Consequently, it’s rarely possible to pinpoint which allergen is causing you trouble. The only way to know for sure is to have an allergy test performed.
Are At-Home Allergy Tests Safe?
Drugstores often sell at-home allergy test kits for you to handle the test yourself. This may seem quick and easy, but the truth is more complicated. Allergy tests found in drugstores are made to far lower standards than tests in a doctor’s office and thus are far less reliable. These tests have also been known to give false results, potentially causing more harm if you continue exposing yourself to a problematic allergen. You’re much better off having a professional perform the test and analyze your results.
Common Allergy Tests & Treatments
One of the most reliable ways to identify your allergen is to expose yourself to it in a controlled environment. That’s where your doctor comes in. Depending on the type or extent of your allergy, the doctor will perform one or more of these tests on you:
- Intradermal skin test: injecting a small amount of allergen just under your skin to monitor for reactions
- Skin prick test: placing a trace amount of allergen on your skin and gently pricking your skin to monitor for reactions
- Lung function test: analyzing your breathing, lung strength, lung volume, and inflammation levels (used for allergies that inhibit breathing)
- Blood test: analyzing a blood sample for antibodies designed to react to certain allergens
- Elimination diet test: removing certain allergens from your diet to see when your symptoms stop
- Patch test: placing allergens on a patch on your skin to monitor for delayed or long-term reactions
Pro Tip: Some allergies may make you vulnerable to other potential allergens. For instance, if you have a latex allergy, you may have a reaction to bananas, apples, avocados, carrots, and a few other types of produce.
Identify Your Allergens & Protect Yourself
Maybe you’re dealing with an allergic reaction but can’t pinpoint the trigger. Maybe an allergy you already know about seems to be worsening. If you know a substance is harming your body or causing you discomfort, don’t wait to get allergy tested! Identify your allergens quickly with your doctor and develop an ongoing treatment plan.
Connect with us for more information on the allergy tests we offer.