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5 Allergy Testing Myths: Debunked

Allergy testing determines allergens like peanuts, mold, bee stings, and pet dander that can usually cause allergic reactions. Healthcare professionals perform allergy tests to identify if your immune system overreacts to particular allergens or substances. 

An allergic reaction is a clear sign that someone has allergies. Allergy testing requires exposing you to a little amount of an allergen and monitoring the reaction.

Allergies can be troublesome, especially when it’s severe. Some can be allergic to dust, bee stings, or even food like peanut, milk, and soy. However, there are different types of allergy testing in CT to identify allergens. 

Suppose you’re experiencing allergic reactions and you want to undergo a test. In that case, your healthcare provider will choose which method is best for you. 

On the other hand, there are rumors and myths about allergies and allergy testing. These myths might steer some people in the wrong direction, which is alarming. 

5 Myths about Allergy Testing

Let’s go ahead and dive deeper to learn more about five popular myths related to allergy testing and the facts behind each rumor.

Myth No. 1: Anyone can do allergy testing. 

 Truth: Allergy testing is part of the puzzle, not merely present at the beginning or end. And this alone doesn’t diagnose the disease. 

 It can be painful when done wrong, so patients must be careful where and with whom they get it. And don’t try to do it yourself with an at-home testing kit or settle for those you can find at malls or pharmacies. After all, you must interpret the results and conduct other needed tests. 

 Working with a trained allergist to perform allergy testing is ideal. They can do these tests without ensuing harm, providing reliable results. That’s why it’s better to do allergy testing under the watchful eye of a board-certified allergist.

Myth No. 2: Allergy (skin) tests are painful for the skin. 

 Truth: Most patients describe allergy (skin) tests as swift and mostly painless. These tests measure the elevation of itchy bumps, determining if the patient is allergic to the particular allergen or not. And they only usually involve dropping allergen extracts in shallow scratches or pricks on an adult’s forearm or a child’s back. 

 Often compared to a mosquito bite, these tests shouldn’t be painful long-term. All testing must be monitored and performed by a board-certified allergist for your safety. Each skin test should only last around 15 to 20 minutes. 

Myth No. 3: Allergy testing is not safe for babies. 

 Truth: Allergy testing comes in different variations and is safe for kids of any age, including babies! After all, many board-certified allergists have training in pediatrics, making them more than capable of performing tests on babies. Depending on a child’s medical and family history, an allergist determines which tests are best for them.  

Myth No. 4: Allergy testing leads to immunotherapy automatically.

 Truth: Allergy testing doesn’t solely lead to immunotherapy. It’s merely one of the treatment options available for allergic reactions. Aside from that, patients may also receive other treatments like medication or strict avoidance of allergens. Sometimes, simple changes to the home environment are enough to treat a patient. 

 Allergists can help patients see which treatment options are best for their unique circumstances. Either way, allergists look at a patient’s age, test results, and medical and family history to determine the appropriate treatment plan. 

Myth No. 5: A positive allergic test result for specific foods means you must permanently remove them from your diet.

Truth: Although it’s better to be safe and cut food you’re allergic to long-term, it’s unnecessary. Board-certified allergists can walk you through your results of allergy testing and will determine if any further tests are needed. And this depends on a patient’s past reactions or family history. 

A positive result from these tests means there’s a high chance the patient has an allergy to that specific food. But skin and blood tests aren’t always accurate since many foods share similar proteins. After an in-depth evaluation and possible food challenge test, your allergist will determine if you must cut out a specific food or not.

How do I know if I need an allergy test?

You may develop allergic rhinitis if you are allergic to airborne allergens such as dust, pet dander, or pollen. This is also known as hay fever which has common symptoms like sore throat, headaches, and itchy and watery eyes. Severe cases may also include nasal congestion, runny nose, excessive sneezing, chronic cough, and shortness of breath.

On the other hand, food allergic reactions usually occur within 30 minutes to two hours after food ingestion. Patients with food allergies may show different symptoms. Skin symptoms include swelling of lips, tongue, and even the whole face with generalized itching. Respiratory symptoms are manifested by wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, and difficulty breathing. Some people may experience vomiting and diarrhea, abdominal pain, and cramps.

Types of allergens

In general, allergens are substances that can trigger allergic reactions. There are three major types of allergens:

Inhaled allergens 

This type of allergen affects your body when you inhale substances such as pet dander, pollen, or mold. Your body reacts with the substance that comes in contact with the membranes of your nostrils, throat, or lungs.

Ingested allergens

These kinds of allergens are usually found in specific foods such as soy, peanut, chicken, and seafood. Your body will show allergic reactions once you ingest any of these allergens.

Contact allergens

These allergens require physical contact on your skin to produce an allergic reaction. One of the most popular examples of contact allergen is poison ivy which causes itching and rash when it touches your skin.

Different Types of Allergy Tests

Your healthcare provider will choose the best option of allergy test for you, depending on suspected allergens and your underlying symptoms. Here are the different methods for allergy testing:

These tests include:

Skin prick (scratch) test

A tiny needle is used to prick the skin of your forearm or back with ten to fifty different possible allergens in a skin prick (scratch) test. Alternatively, your provider may apply droplets of probable allergens to your skin and scratch and mildly puncture the area with a device, allowing the substance to enter your skin.

Physical response like redness is expected to appear within 15 minutes of exposure. This method of allergy testing may also include raised and circular bumps called wheals. This test is usually used for food allergies, penicillin allergies, and airborne allergies.

Intradermal skin test 

If the findings of a skin prick test are negative or unclear, you may need an intradermal skin test. Tiny amounts of the allergen are injected into the outer layer of your skin by your doctor (epidermis). 

This type of allergy testing detects allergies to irritants in the air, medicines, and insect bites. This test detects allergies to insect bites, medications, and airborne irritants.

Patch test

This test aims to determine the causes of contact dermatitis. Your doctor will apply drops of an allergen to the skin of your arm and wrap it in a bandage. Alternatively, your doctor may apply an allergen-containing patch or bandage and leave it for 48 to 96 hours. 

After the said waiting period, you’ll then go back to the clinic and let your doctor remove the bandage to look for an allergic reaction on your skin.

Blood (IgE) test

Your doctor sends a sample of your blood to a laboratory for allergy testing. The lab introduces allergens to the blood sample and examines the levels of Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in it. Blood tests have a greater chance of false-positive findings.

Challenge tests 

This allergy testing is only performed under the direct, in-person supervision of a practitioner. People who are suspected of having food or medication allergies consume (swallow) a little amount of an allergen. 

This test is often performed by an allergist, a specialist in allergies. Professional supervision is required. If you experience anaphylaxis, the doctor will administer an epinephrine injection as soon as possible to stop the reaction.

Conclusion

Allergic reactions might range from irritating congestion to potentially fatal anaphylactic shock. Allergy tests can help you figure out what’s causing your allergic reactions. There are various allergy tests available. 

Doc’s Urgent Care is one of Connecticut’s most reputable allergy testing centers, serving families 365 days a year. If you or one of your family members is experiencing allergy symptoms, don’t think twice and give them a call

Their professionally trained health providers will select the best test for you based on your potential allergy triggers and symptoms.  Health is wealth, and it’s always better to act early to be safe than sorry.

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