It is helpful to know about your allergy testing options before you go to the doctor. The type of allergy testing depends on what you suspect you are allergic to and the severity of your reaction. Some tests work better than others depending on your case. Your allergy testing map ends at 3 different destinations.
The 3 type of tests are:
- Scratch Tests
- Elimination Diets
- Blood Tests
Scratch tests are the most common form of allergy testing conducted today. The results can be seen as quickly as twenty minutes. The actual test is conducted by placing a small amount of the suspected allergen onto the surface of the skin, usually along the spine or on the upper arm. The patient is then scratched or pricked on the same area allowing some of the substance to penetrate the skin. The area is then observed to see whether the patient has an allergic reaction such as swelling, redness or itching. This method of allergy testing is quick and can cover quite a range of possible allergens. That is why it is particularly good when you don’t know what your allergies are. The test works well for insect bites, airborne allergens like pollen and food allergies as well.
Specific food allergies can be tested by using a different form of allergy testing that puts a patient on an elimination diet. For a period of several weeks the range of foods suspected of causing the allergy are eliminated from the patients diet. Then each food is then reintroduced individually to see whether the allergy symptoms come back. Of course, this method of allergy testing is better for mild food allergies. If you get severe allergic reactions bordering on anaphylactic shock then you should skip this test and the scratch tests and immediately go to your next option.
The last form of allergy testing on our list is a RAST(radioallergosorbent test) which most people just classify as a blood test. Blood is drawn from the patient and is then sent to a lab for testing. The blood is examined for the presence of immunoglobulin (IgE) antibodies. The presence of these antibodies indicates whether the body’s immune system is causing the body to have an allergic reaction. Elevated levels of these IgE’s can tell your doctor whether you are allergic to certain types of allergens. This type of allergy testing has been known to not be as precise or accurate as other methods.
The last type of test that is provocation or challenge tests. This is where a doctor exposes you directly to what you think you are allergic to so that your reaction can be monitored. This can be very dangerous so definitely don’t try this at home. Your reaction may be more severe than you think. This type of allergy testing is of course not that common.
In conclusion you should be prepared when you go in for your testing. The doctor will ask you for a thorough medical history and depending on the testing involved may ask you to stop taking any sort of medicine you have been taking to treat the symptoms of your allergies. This will make the allergy testing more effective.
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About the Author: Marilyn Franklin is a writer for AllergyFiles.com where you can also find information on allergy medicine.