WHAT IS ALERGY TESTING?
When you are allergic, your body reacts to substances that do not bother most people. These "allergens" include trees, grasses, weeds, molds, dust mites, animals, insects, foods and medicines. To determine your specific allergies, we will test your skin for reactions to tiny amounts of these allergens.
WHAT SYMPTOMS MIGHT INDICATE THE NEED FOR TESTING?
- itchy, stuffy, runny nose or sneezing
- watery, itchy eyes
- cough, wheezing, chest tightness, or difficulty breathing
- hives, itching, or eczema
- nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain after meals
- throat swelling or other life-threatening symptoms
HOW ARE THESE TESTS PERFORMED?
There are 3 types of allergy tests we usually perform.
Stop antihistamines at least 48 hours before the skin tests, as they interfere with the results.
1. Prick test is usually performed with a Multitest device where we can test 8 allergens at once. This 8 tipped plastic device introduces a small amount of allergen into the skin. If only one or 2 allergens are tested, we will use an individual tip. In a positive test, histamine is released from allergic cells called "mast cells" and forms a hive within 20 minutes.
2. Intradermal test is where a tiny amount of allergen is injected using a very tiny needle in your upper arm. (This technique is similar to a TB test.) We perform this if we suspect allergies but the prick test is negative. Children 8 years of age and older normally tolerate this test.
3. Blood test or Immunocap test measures allergic or IgE antibodies. We perform this if antihistamines cannot be stopped.