utah Allergy Testing & Symptoms
For most people in Utah, allergy means having an adverse reaction to a substance or food that is typically harmless for others. In allergist medical terms, it means that the immune system of a person reacts adversely to a substance that is not harmful for most people’s immune system.
Thankfully, the allergy symptoms can be managed by avoiding things that trigger allergies and in many cases, it can be completely cured. The first step to effective allergy treatment is allergy testing.
Allergy testing is usually combined with detailed medical history to identify specific things that trigger specific allergic reactions in an individual.
Types of Allergy Tests
The two most common ways of testing for allergies are skin tests and blood tests. These tests are usually performed under the guidance of a Utah allergist.
Skin tests are also of two types namely skin prick test and patch test. In the skin prick test, the suspected allergen is scratched or scraped on the skin surface with the help of a needle. It is usually performed on the forearm or on the back. The advantage of this method is that as many as 40 different substances can be checked for immediate allergic reactions at once. This test is usually performed for identifying allergies to mold, foods, dust mites, pet dander and: pollen among others.
The results of the tests are usually available within 20 min of the testing. If the person is allergic to any of the allergens being tested, they skin around the prick show swelling and becomes itchy. The swelling will feel like a mosquito bite.
Generally, the individual is unlikely to show any other symptoms in addition to the small hive where the testing was done. It usually goes away in 30 min. If the tests show nothing but it is still suspected that the individual might have allergy, an intradermal test is performed by the allergist.
In this case, a small amount of allergen is directly injected in the skin. The skin shows some symptoms within 15 minutes of the injection. This test is usually recommended for testing allergy to penicillin or insect venom.
Patch testing is usually done for checking whether a particular substance is responsible for allergic skin irritation such as contact dermatitis. These are useful for detecting delayed allergic reactions that may take a number of days to develop.
In this testing, suspected allergens are applied to patches and these patches are placed on the skin for around 48 hours. When the person is wearing the patch, he or she needs to avoid bathing as well as other activities that may cause heavy sweating. If the skin at the test site shows signs of irritation, it may be sign of allergy.
In some cases, blood test is done. The blood test is usually performed if a person is suffering from skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis where it’s not easy to see the results of the testing. Similarly, if a person cannot stop taking medicines that may affect the reaction to allergens, blood testing is performed.
Some people may have a serious allergic reaction to a particular substance and in such cases, blood testing is preferred. When a person has had positive allergic reactions to a number of different foods, blood testing can find out the most likely cause of the allergic reaction.
The testing is also preferred for kids on whom multiple skin tests cannot be performed easily. In the blood test, the presence of a specific allergen is checked. It is also known as IgE blood test.
It is important to mention here that when an allergen specific IgE is present, it does not mean that allergy is there, it only shows that sensitization is there. In fact, many symptom-free and completely healthy people are often found positive when tested for allergy.
This is the reason that a good allergist depends on the allergy history along with the allergy tests to find out the root cause of the allergy. In fact, doctors are usually aware of the likely allergen and the allergy tests are used to confirm the diagnosis.
There are some cases where the allergy symptoms or history points to one cause where the tests strongly point in another direction. In such cases, another test is considered. In this test, tiny but gradually increasing exposure to the likely allergen is given to the patient until the smallest hint of a swelling, drop in blood pressure or breathing difficulty.
Overall, both these test methods have their own pros and cons. Blood tests are considered better as medicine does not interfere with the results and the skills of the testers do not affect the results. However, it takes a long time to get results and it costs a lot more than skin test.