We have all suffered allergies at some point in our lives. An allergy is a damaging immune response by the body to a substance or product, to which it (the body) has gotten hypersensitive.
Allergies are common and some common allergies in human beings occur from dust, pollen, fur, and some food items. Some people are allergic to peanuts whereas some people are allergic to dust. They start sneezing as soon as they step out in the pollution. In worse cases, they could even have difficulty breathing.
An allergic reaction can be normal to mild, severe, and even very severe. In most cases. When the reaction is normal to mild, people do not need medical attention. Some people might need medications. But in severe cases, some people might need to rush to the hospital.
In simple words, allergy can be referred to as your body’s reaction to something, in particular, that does not bother most other people. As a reaction to the said substance, the body becomes hypersensitive, resulting in allergic reactions. This substance that causes an allergic reaction is an “allergen”.
As mentioned, most allergies are normal to mild. But some allergies can be severe. It is important to know what substance a person is allergic to. To find out, doctors recommend an allergy test.
As the name suggests, an allergy test is conducted to find out or determine the allergens. The aim of this testing is to find out the elements or substances that a person or group of persons are allergic to. Allergy testing seeks to identify the allergen. Allergens, in case there is more than one substance.
Allergens can be peanuts, bee stings, pet dander, etc. Pet dander refers to flecks of the skin of animals that do not shed skin, like cats, dogs, lizards, etc. Even fish is included in this category.
How do they conduct Allergy Testing?
Since allergies are common, allergy tests are becoming common. If you are contemplating getting a test, then you should not wait further.
A few simple steps are followed in the process of conducting an allergy test. Those steps are:
- Consulting a doctor- if you feel you are allergic to something, the first step would be to consult a doctor. A general physician should be fine too. The doctor will read your symptoms and then decide if the problems you are having are due to an allergy or something else.
- Medical history- the doctor in question will note your medical history, and obtain information about your family history, such as diseases that run in your family tree. The doctor might also note if you are under any treatments or medication. Based on this information, he or she will decide the procedure.
- Type of test- depending on your symptoms, problems, and medical history the doctor will recommend the right type of allergy test for you.
Types of allergy tests:
There are different types of tests to determine what you are allergic to. The most common type of test is the skin prick test. However, sometimes an allergy blood test might also be recommended.
The various types of allergy tests are:
- Skin prick test-
This type of allergy test is also called a puncture or scratch test. This test is capable of checking for immediate allergic reactions to almost 50 substances at once. A skin prick test is usually conducted to check allergies against pollen, dust mites, pet dander, mold, and food items.
The test is completely non-invasive. In adults, it can easily be conducted on the forearm. In the case of children, the test can also be conducted on the upper back. Skin prick tests are painless. Such tests used lancets, needle-like things. These needles barely penetrate the skin. In the worst-case scenario, you will just experience some mild discomfort.
- Skin injection test-
This type of test is usually conducted to identify allergic reactions to insect venom or penicillin. Skin injection tests require injecting a small quantity of allergen into your skin, usually on the arm to record allergic reactions. The test site is examined after about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Patch test-
Patch tests do not require the use of needles. Such tests are usually conducted to see if contact with certain substances is causing skin inflammation. Contact dermatitis is a common occurrence in people and patch tests help identify allergens. Patch tests are great for allergens that cause delayed allergic reactions. This means it is suitable for substances that cause an allergy but take time to show the symptoms.
- Allergy blood test-
Blood tests can also help identify the cause behind the allergic reactions. In such tests, the blood sample is collected from your body and is examined. A type of such test is called the total IgE test. It measures the number of IgE antibodies in a human body.
What conditions can these tests diagnose?
Allergy testing is conducted to diagnose your allergy to several substances, including but not limited to pollen, animal fur, pet dander, insect bites, bee stings, insect venom, and penicillin.
Apart from these, allergy testing is also recommended for people suffering from asthma, diarrhea, coughing, shortness of breath, recurring fever, vomiting, hives, skin rashes, etc.
How long does it take to get the results of an allergy test?
The results of the allergy blood test and all other tests are attained very quickly. In most cases, before you leave the pathological lab, you would know the results of your tests.
Allergy tests are largely painless and completely non-invasive. If you suffer or experience allergic reactions after consuming or breathing some substances, you should not wait longer.