Do I have allergies?
This is the most common reason to see an allergist. It is well known that allergies can create many symptoms that most don’t think is due to allergies. This is exactly why an allergist by carefully listening to your story and performing diagnostic test can answer this question.
Can I just “get over” my allergies?
Some patients can control symptoms via avoidance and medications. However you should be tested to find out exactly what allergies you might have.
Why is allergy testing important?
More than 50 million people in the United States have allergies. Finding out what you are allergic to is an important first step to effective allergy treatment. Today allergy tests are more convenient and accurate than ever before. When combined with a detailed medical history, allergy testing can identify the specific things that trigger your allergic reactions.
Who can be tested for allergies?
Adults and children of any age can be tested for allergies.
How are allergy tests done?
Allergy testing can be done as skin tests or as blood tests. Usually, allergy tests are done under the guidance of an allergy specialist. These specialists are trained in the best methods for testing and treating allergies.
Are there risks or side effects from allergy testing?
Any medical test involves some risk. The risk with allergy skin tests is that allergy symptoms might occur during the test. The most common symptoms are itching and swelling of the skin where the tests are. In rare cases, a more serious reaction can occur. That is why skin tests should be done by a specialist. The risk with allergy blood tests is pain or bleeding at the needle mark. Also, a few people may faint during blood testing.
What allergies can allergy testing find?
Allergy tests help find allergies to pollen, molds, dust mites, animal dander, insect stings, foods and some medicines.
How do allergy skin tests work?
There are two types of skin tests. During the first type of skin test, a drop of a suspected allergen is pricked or scratched on the surface of the skin. The test is performed on the back or forearm. Many suspected allergens are tested at the same time. If you are allergic to one of the tests, you will have redness and swelling at the test spot.
Sometimes the doctor will recommend a second type of test. In this type, a small amount of the suspected allergen is injected into the skin of the arm or forearm. Several suspected allergens are tested at the same time.
How long does it take to get skin test results?
Skin testing is fast. For both types of skin tests, positive reactions usually appear within 20 minutes. Sometimes redness and swelling can occur several hours after skin testing. The delayed reaction usually disappears in 24 to 48 hours, but should be reported to the allergy doctor or nurse.
Is skin testing painful?
Both types of skin tests have little or no pain. However, positive reactions cause annoying itching red bumps which look and feel like mosquito bites. The itching and bumps are gone usually in just a few short minutes or hours.
Does medicine interfere with allergy skin tests?
Some medicines do interfere with allergy skin tests. The allergist will tell you if you have to change your medicine before allergy skin testing.
When are allergy blood tests used?
An allergy blood test is often used because:
How long does it take to get blood test results?
Because the blood sample must be sent to a lab for testing, it takes many days to get the results.
Which test method is best?
Skin tests give fast results. They usually cost less than allergy blood tests.
What are the negatives?
Young children do not like this type of test. Some medicines can interfere with the tests. In addition, in some people with dark skin it may be hard to read the tests. Also, the skill of the tester may affect the results. The test should be done by a person with lots of training.
Blood tests are helpful because they involve a single needle prick. Medicine does not interfere with the results. However, it takes a long time to get the results. Blood tests cost more than skin tests. There are many of types of allergy blood tests. Some types are more helpful than others.
Each test method has pluses and minuses. The test results alone do not diagnose allergies. All test results, from either type of test, must be interpreted together with the medical history.
When Should I See an Allergy Doctor?
Asthma and other allergic diseases are among the most common health problems, with as many as 50 million Americans afflicted with asthma, hay fever or other allergy-related conditions.Some allergy problems - such as a mild case of hay fever - may require no treatment or may be controlled with the occasional use of an over-the-counter medication. Others, however, may interfere with day-to-day activities, lessen the quality of life or, sometimes, be life-threatening. Sometimes, over-the-counter medications produce undesirable side effects. In these cases, individuals should seek the care of a physician to help them manage their disease.If you have (or suspect that you may have) asthma or another allergic disease, an allergist will help you learn more about your condition and provide treatment that controls or eliminates your symptoms. Often, the symptoms of allergic diseases develop gradually over a period of time.Allergy patients may become so accustomed to chronic symptoms such as sneezing, nasal congestion or wheezing that they do not consider their symptoms to be unusual. Yet, with the help of an allergist, these symptoms can usually be prevented or controlled and the patient's quality of life greatly improved.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is inflammation (swelling) of the airways. Some people are born with genetic destiny to have asthma. Others develop it after infections or exposure to allergy or airway irritants. An individual will have varying amounts of symptoms over time. Most asthma responds to treatment with medicine that opens the airways through airway muscle relaxation and swelling relief.
What are the benefits of immunotherapy?
Patients with “unavoidable” allergens, such as grass or ragweed, may experience the intolerable symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy and red eyes during the spring and fall. It is impossible, or impractical for the patient to completely avoid these common airborne allergens. Although some steps can be taken to relieve symptoms, such as medications and staying indoors, they are only temporary and will not alleviate the condition year round. The allergy shots can help tremendously if you have a dog or cat allergy and you do have pets.
What are my specific allergens?
Several allergen specific tests can be performed by your Allergist to determine what is causing your allergy symptoms. A common test for plant and tree allergens is known is by gently pricking the skin and placing samples of numerous known allergens on your skin's surface. After a short amount of time the reactive results can be analyzed to create a comprehensive list of plant or tree allergens and your ranked sensitivity to each. Your Allergist can then prescribe a treatment which will target these allergens to reduce or alleviate your allergy symptoms.
What is anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction and is a medical emergency. It requires immediate medical attention. It can result in difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, and possibly death if not immediately treated.
Anaphylaxis occurs in some people when they are exposed to a substance in which they are allergic called an allergen.
Anaphylaxis is caused the same way other allergies are. The bodies defense against countless substances, the immune system, overreacts to a substance generally considered harmless. To those with severe allergies, however, such substances can be dangerous.
A specific antibody called Immunoglobulin E or IgE is present in people who have allergies. When allergens first enter the body of a person predisposed to allergies, a series of reactions occur, and allergen-specific IgE antibodies are produced. They travel and attach themselves to the surface of cells called mast cells, where they wait for their particular allergen.
The next time that person comes into contact with the allergens he or she is sensitive to, the IgE captures them and initiates the release of chemical "mediators" from the mast cells. If anaphylaxis occurs, the reaction is severe and requires immediate medical treatment.
Signs and Symptoms
Various organ systems are affected by a "systemic reaction" also known as Anaphylaxis. Some systems affected are the skin, upper and lower respiratory tracts, cardiovascular system, eyes, uterus, and bladder. Some symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, hives, swelling of the tissues in the lips or joints, diarrhea, itchy skin, severe anxiety, headache, sneezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing. Some of the most dangerous symptoms include low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, shock, and loss of consciousness.
If you or someone you know has experienced an anaphylaxis reaction it is very important that you make an appointment and speak with one of our allergists. They will obtain a detailed medical and allergic history and with your help choose the best diagnostic and treatment options
How Do We Diagnose Your Allergies?
The doctor will first start by asking you a series of questions. In this way he can evaluate your symptoms and determine what is the BEST management option for you.
Everyone is unique and different test and treatment options will be available to you after he gets an accurate picture about your allergy or asthma.
Here are several self tests that will help you determine if you suffer from any of the following.