The Dreaded Allergy Test

So you think you may have allergies, but how can you be sure?  All of which I describe below may not be the perfect solution for you, so be smart and make sure to contact a professional asthma and allergy specialist before tackling allergies on your own.

At ANY age you can develop or outgrow allergies.  Sounds crazy!  But as we grow older our immune systems may become oversensitive.  While doctors have not yet found an absolute cure for allergies, they can help you with preventative solutions, and no I do not just mean recommending pills that you can get over-the-counter.  Two common solutions are nasal sprays and allergy injections.  If you are eligible for the latter, this is the most effective (and the route I took as a child).  After approximately three years of shots occurring as often as once a week, the process helped my body build up antibodies/strengthen my immune system so my allergies would be less severe or be vanquished completely as I reached adulthood.

Next step: either a blood test or skin-scratch test are your best go-tos.  I have been told the blood test better displays food allergies, while the skin-scratch test is sufficient for testing environmental allergies.  However, I have been tested for both with the skin-scratch test.  Do not get tested again within three years of taking one of these tests.  To ensure complete accuracy, you must NOT take any preventative medicine, such as Benadryl or Allegra, within the week of your test.

The blood test is somewhat self explanatory as it is akin to getting blood drawn, but the skin-scratch test can be intimidating if it is your first time.  A drop of the allergen, which can be a microscopic amount of anything from peanuts to pollen, is placed on your forearm or on your back.  If the test is positive, aka you are definitely allergic, the drop will swell up and become itchy and red.  If the initial test is negative, the intradermal test will be performed, during which a small amount of the allergen is injected into your skin (seen left).  A positive reaction looks the same during each test.

These tests are quick and are mildly uncomfortable… I mean the biggest pro is that you might find out that something you were allergic to as a child may be something you can enjoy for the rest of your adult life! Another less common option when testing for food allergies when in the doctors office is to ingest a small amount of the food.  Thus if the worst case scenario occurs, as in you go into anaphylactic shock, your doctor will be there.

I have found success in these practices and highly recommend them to you!  Additionally, the Asthma & Allergy Center in PA can answer many questions you may have if you’re still curious: http://www.aactx.com/Faq/#45.

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