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The Best Allergy Testing Method for You

Allergies are caused by a misfire in your immune system, which occurs when it overreacts to common substances in your environment that you inhale, ingest, or simply touch in the normal course of your day.

Also known as allergens, your allergy trigger(s) could be grass, tree, or weed pollen. Or your immune system may overreact to dust mites, pet dander, or mold. If you have a food allergy, peanuts or strawberries could bring on itchy hives and, in some cases, lead to a life-threatening emergency known as anaphylactic shock.

It only makes sense, then, to find out what in your environment could trigger an allergic reaction so that you can avoid exposure whenever possible. Correctly identifying your allergy triggers is also fundamental to creating a treatment plan that reduces your symptoms and protects your overall health and wellbeing. Allergy testing plays an important role in the process.

Is there a specific allergy test that’s better than others?

At Allergy Relief Clinics, Dr. Rahimi relies on a series of steps rather than just one test to accurately identify what’s causing your allergy symptoms.

He starts with a thorough exam that includes a review of your medical history and a detailed discussion of your symptoms. This gives him important insight into what substances might be causing your immune system’s heightened sensitivity.

From there, he prescribes allergy testing to confirm his suspicions, which may include a skin prick test or a blood test. Each method has pros and cons that may affect its reliability. If Dr. Rahimi suspects you have a food allergy, he may also recommend an oral food challenge and/or an elimination diet. 

Simply put, the best allergy testing method for you often depends on your symptoms, your medical history, and your suspected allergy.

Skin prick testing

Skin prick testing is probably the most common form of allergy testing. For this test, we lightly scratch your skin at a designated site, typically on your inner forearm, and apply a drop of solution containing a suspected allergen to the area. We then monitor the site for an allergic reaction, usually a small itchy bump.

This testing method allows us to check for several allergens by using multiple sites during one session. And the results are fast, generally 30 minutes or less. Some prescription medications, however, can interfere with the results. If, for health reasons, you’re unable to stop the medication for several days before a skin prick test, it isn’t the right allergy test for you.

When testing for food allergens, skin prick tests give false positive reactions about half the time, so further studies are often necessary if Dr. Rahimi believes you have a food allergy.

Blood tests for allergies

Allergy blood tests can identify certain immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies that your immune system produces in response to known allergens. Generally, the higher the level of specific antibodies, the more likely you are to have an allergy to a particular substance.

For this type of allergy testing, we draw a blood sample that’s then analyzed carefully in the lab. It may be several days to weeks before the results are known. And, as with skin prick testing, blood tests return a false positive for food allergies about 50% of the time.

With blood testing, however, the medications you take won’t affect the results, and we can use one blood draw to test for multiple allergens. Also, if you are at risk for anaphylactic shock due to a severe allergy or have a medical condition such as asthma, a blood test may be a safer option since there’s no risk it will trigger a severe reaction.

Oral food challenge and elimination diet

An oral food challenge and/or elimination diet can confirm a suspected food allergy or refute false positive results noted with skin prick or blood tests.

During an oral food challenge, you’ll be under close medical supervision by Dr. Rahimi as you slowly consume the suspected food in gradually increasing amounts. Your response to the food confirms whether you have an allergy or not.

For an elimination diet, Dr. Rahimi may ask you to eliminate the suspect food(s) from your diet for several weeks and then reintroduce it slowly to determine whether it’s the true cause of your symptoms.

Because allergic reactions can be severe, even life-threatening, it’s very important that any testing that exposes you to a potential allergy trigger be administered under the careful supervision of a qualified physician.

 

Schedule an appointment today with Dr. Rahimi at Allergy Relief Clinic for expert allergy testing and a customized treatment plan that can prevent allergies from affecting your health and wellbeing.

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