Allergy Testing – Exploring Different Types

The arrival of spring is a festive occasion for most people. The harsh conditions of winter are finally ways away, and people look forward to the pleasant days of spring. With flowers blossoming all around and birds singing their sweet songs, spring brings about a carefree season for all.

Hold on! This doesn’t hold true for some people.

Yes, the season of flowers can be an overwhelming experience for many but for those who have seasonal allergies, the season of bloom and blossom can bring about an onslaught of runny noses, sneezing, and itchy watery eyes that can lead to even more serious symptoms.

In the United States alone, over 50 million people are affected by nasal allergies. All this happens because their immune system reacts with the foreign substance that enters the body. These are allergens which have serious effects on the body.

Allergens affecting Health

Allergens enter the body orally or after being inhaled and, in some cases, just a simple contact event can trigger off allergic reactions. There are different types of allergens, and their effects on the human body also differ.

Allergies are associated and likely cause allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, and asthma.   The most severe complication of an allergic reaction is called ‘anaphylaxis’ and is an emergent, life-threatening condition.

Allergy symptoms include the following:

  • Nasal and sinus congestion
  • Watery, itchy nose and sneezing
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Coughing
  • Eczema (atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis)
  • Rashes / hives or swelling (angioedema)
  • Itchy, watery eyes (allergic conjunctivitis)
  • Shortness of breath and wheezing
  • Allergic shiners – puffy eyelids

The best way to treat allergies is to avoid the culprit triggers. Over 40% of children are allergic to some type of allergen. Most of these allergies are not life-threatening but can cause some serious problems as described above. This makes it much more important for people to get allergy testing. When people are aware of the allergens that can affect their body, they can learn to avoid them or be treated with allergy shots if applicable.

So get yourself tested today. Also take your loved ones for allergy testing so that they can ensure their safety. There are a few ways to get the testing done.

Allergy Skin Testing

This is usually the testing that allergists conduct first. They try to get results by introducing allergens to a patch of skin and evaluate its affect on the body. The test is simple enough and takes about 15-30 minutes to perform. A battery of allergens can be tested – typically, testing is done for the most common environmental allergens. In addition, food allergens can also be tested using skin testing.

Types of skin testing include skin prick, intradermal, and patch testing which can be done on the back. Patch testing is typically done to evaluate for contact dermatitis. If one is allergic to an allergen, then swelling, itching, redness develops in the area corresponding to the allergen.

Blood Tests

For some, allergy skin testing is enough to get the results. But some might require blood tests. The test is called specific IgE tests and is helpful in situations where skin testing isn’t possible. People who are on certain prescription drugs can’t take skin allergy testing and hence specific IgE test is the next best option. People who have skin rashes or abrasions are also recommended to take this test.

Food Challenges

Food allergies render up expenses of $25 billion each year. That should be enough to help you realize how severe these allergies can be. Food challenges enable allergists to observe the reaction of certain foods on an individual. Starting with small quantities, the suspected food is given to the patient.

After each dose, the allergist observes and evaluates the effects of the food on the patient. If no reaction is observed, the dose is increased and the process continues until the patient takes the final dosage. There are some risks involved in the process as the patients can react adversely to the testing. Because of this, all the tastings are performed by an experienced allergist and under the supervision of a physician.

For your convenience, ZendyHealth offers an easy way to get tested for food allergies from the convenience of your own home – with virtual care in our Virtual Care suite of tools. Our Food Allergy Virtual Consultation includes a 60-minute virtual visit with an experienced integrative medicine doctor experienced with allergies and the various associated methods of allergy testing. Food allergy testing has become quite popular in recent years given the public awareness of gluten allergies and other problems involving the digestive tract as it relates to specific foods.

Foods can be responsible for a variety of symptoms and not only as they related to the digestive tract. For example, some foods can trigger vertigo, dizziness, and other symptoms that are not obviously thought to be associated with food triggers.

 

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