What are allergies?
Allergies are so common that most of us never think of doing much against them. People usually believe that taking an allergy pill or staying indoors at the height of allergy season is the best way to keep your allergy symptoms at bay.
However, there is more to allergies than just nasal discomfort. Allergies can have a huge impact on a person’s overall quality of life. Depending on the severity of your allergy symptoms, allergies can make it quite difficult for you to feel your best or to enjoy everyday activities.
Allergies can attack anyone, regardless of age, race, or occupation. They can also occur at any given time. Allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to a substance that is not usually harmful. Allergens don’t always trigger reactions among most individuals. Unfortunately, among those suffering from allergies, their immune systems usually wrongly considers the allergen to be a potential threat and mounts an inappropriate response towards it. This is how allergic reactions happen!
Our clinic offers testing for various allergies such as:
- Dust mites
- Food such as gluten, wheat, seafood, nuts, fruits, egg, milk, vegetables, etc
Are allergies genetically inheritable?
Yes and this implies that if you are suffering from allergies, it is very likely that your family member may also be suffering the same fate. It is also imperative to note that individuals with a history of eczema, allergic rhinitis, and asthma are more prone to having allergy.
Allergies have been known to be more common among children, but they can also occur at any age. They may resolve with time and there is a possibility of a new allergy developing many years later.
So, what are some of the most common allergy symptoms?
Allergies can affect many parts of your body. Skin allergies usually result in swellings over body areas such as eyes, lips, mouth. These areas may also result in an itchy skin rash or resemble eczema.
In your respiratory tract, allergies can trigger a number of symptoms, including sneezing, cough, itchy runny nose, breathing difficulties, or wheezing. On the other hand, in your gastrointestinal tract, allergies may display a number of symptoms such as cramps, abdominal pain, vomiting, and nausea.
In extreme cases, the affected individual may develop a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening, especially when not attended to on time. When this happens, you may experience symptoms such as swelling on the eyes, throat, lips, and mouth. What’s more, you will also experience some breathing difficulties, a decrease in blood pressure, and rashes. It usually occurs within minutes or hours after your exposure to allergens, and this allergic reaction is medically described as anaphylaxis. You are highly encouraged to always seek immediate medical attention anytime you suffer from this life-threatening experience. What’s more, you should always carry with you an adrenaline pen for emergency purposes.
So, how is allergy tested?
Allergy testing is a procedure offered to help identify the specific allergen responsible for your symptoms. By successfully pinpointing the specific allergen responsible for your woes, doctors can help you develop a plan tailored toward avoiding those particular allergens.
Our clinic offers two main types of allergy testing procedures, the skin prick or IgE RAST test.
IgE RAST TEST:
This procedure involves drawing a blood sample from your doctor. This test detects works by detecting specific IgE antibodies (produced by your body) released against a specific allergen. There is a broad range of allergens that are testable through this particular allergy test.
Generally, the test is recommended for patients who:
- Are at risk of having severe reactions when exposed to allergens through the Skin Prick Test.
- Are already suffering from severe conditions such as psoriasis or eczema.
- Are currently using medications that are highly likely to interfere with the outcome of their skin prick test diagnostic results.
It usually takes between 7 days for the test results to be out.
There are no specific preparations needed before RAST BLOOD TEST.
SKIN PRICK TEST:
This is a very simple, straightforward way to detect an allergy. It is usually performed over wither the upper back or inner forearm of the patient. During the test, your doctor will first mark the area to be tested, after injecting allergen droplets into your skin through a small prick that doesn’t penetrate through your skin’s surface. The entire procedure is nearly painless. After a short while, the test will be analyzed for any visible evidence of swelling and raised red bumps.
First and foremost, it is imperative to note that this test is usually carried out in a safe environment with constant monitoring from your doctor. Most patients usually tolerate the test pretty well, because no pain is involved. However, a few patients may also experience mild itching and redness over the skin area tested. In general, the chances of patients experiencing severe reactions to skin prick tests are very minimal.
It is essential to note that this is a very simple and fast procedure that usually takes only 20 minutes for your results to be out.
Skin Prick Test is a very safe procedure. Usually, the amount of allergens tested on your skin is very small. What’s more, it is conducted inside the clinic to allow our doctors to always keep an eye on you for a possible incidence of a severe allergic reaction. Severe reactions to this type of allergy test are incredibly rare.
It is worth noting that certain allergy medications such as antihistamine, among others, can impact your test results. Also, long-term drugs such as antidepressants can affect your results as well. This means that it is very important that you tell your doctor about all the medications you are using before you go for the test.
When carried out appropriately, the skin prick test is very reliable. However, there are limited chances that you may experience negative skin prick results, yet develop allergy symptoms at some point in your lifetime. This scenario is medically described as false negative.
This may occur as you could become sensitive to a new allergy over time because of regularly coming into contact with the allergens. You may also be on certain medications that are highly likely to result in a false negative result.
However, RAST Blood Test has the benefit of having test results that are not affected that the drugs a person may be currently using. Regardless, there is a slight possibility of a false positive. This simply means that you might get a positive result, but, in reality, you don’t suffer any symptoms when exposed to allergens.
So, how regularly should one go for allergy testing?
The frequency with which you visit your doctor for allergy testing largely depends on the new onset of your allergy symptoms and potential association with new allergy triggers.
Don’t allow your allergy symptoms to affect the quality of your life. When done appropriately, allergy testing may help determine the specific allergen responsible for your symptoms.
Contrary to what most people think, allergies can potentially be treated and cured. This can be achieved via immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is a form of treatment that enables your body to get used to these allergens which then reduces its response over time. The goal of this treatment is to eventually get rid of these allergic symptoms and improve one’s quality of life.
Read more on allergy treatment.