Approximately 50 million people in the United States have allergies, which can cause a variety of annoying symptoms. In severe cases, an allergy can cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction.
Finding out what you’re allergic to is an important first step to effective allergy treatment.
What is allergy testing?
Allergy testing is used to determine the cause of your allergic reactions. The results of this test can help your physician develop a treatment plan to manage your allergy symptoms. It also lets you know precisely what you’re allergic to so you can take the necessary steps to avoid those substances.
What are the types of allergy testing that are available?
Allergies can be determined by blood work and by skin testing.
Skin testing is used more often, and it shows when a patient is allergic to a substance because redness, itching, and swelling will develop at the test site. There are several types of skin tests:
- Skin prick test: A drop of a solution that contains a possible allergen is placed on the skin, usually on the arm or upper back. A series of light scratches allows the solution to enter the skin. If the skin develops a raised itchy area within 15 to 20 minutes, this is a positive reaction that means that the person is usually allergic to that substance.
An advantage of skin prick testing is that it is highly accurate and doesn’t require an injection and therefore is a good option for pediatric patients.
- Intradermal test: During this test, a small amount of the allergen is injected into the skin. Since it’s more sensitive than a skin prick test, it’s sometimes used if that test yields a negative result for a specific allergen that’s still suspected as an allergic trigger. It’s also sometimes used to test if you’re allergic to penicillin or bee venom. The intradermal test is more sensitive than the skin prick test but is also more likely to yield a false positive result.
The advantage of intradermal testing is that it can allow your physician to get more specific information on the level of your allergy sensitivity.
- Skin patch test: The allergen solution is placed on a pad that’s taped to the skin for 24 to 72 hours.
The skin patch test is used to detect contact dermatitis, a skin allergy. This skin rash can occur if you’re exposed to a substance you’re allergic to.
Allergy skin testing involves very little to no discomfort. It usually takes about an hour, so you’ll be able to have your results before you leave the office.
- Blood tests: Allergy blood tests look for substances in the blood called antibodies. Your body may make these substances in response to allergens.
Blood test aren’t as sensitive as skin tests, so they’re not used as often. They can sometimes be used, however, for people who aren’t able to have skin tests. This includes people who can’t tolerate the needle scratches, have an unstable heart condition, or take a type of medicine — such as steroids, antihistamines, or some antidepressants – that could interfere with the test results.
What is a pulmonary function test?
Allergies can affect the lungs in many ways, including making existing cases of asthma worse. Depending on your particular medical history, pulmonary function tests (PFTs) may be performed as part of your allergy testing. These tests can detect lung disease by determining how much air your lungs can hold and how quickly you can move air in and out of your lungs.
Where can I get my allergies tested in Atlanta?
At the Sinus Center of Atlanta, we offer a state-of-the-art allergy facility. Our allergists use a combination of prick tests and intradermal tests to accurately diagnose your allergies so we can effectively treat them.
Take the first step toward healthy breathing and relief from sinus pain and congestion caused by allergies. Schedule an appointment at the Sinus Center of Atlanta today for comprehensive allergy testing in Atlanta.