How Do Allergy Tests Work?

Allergies got you down? Are you reacting to substances, perhaps getting rashes or suffering itchy, red eyes, and don’t know what’s causing it? Unfortunately, allergies are extremely common.

Often, allergies are a persistent nuisance that can lower your quality of life and make it difficult to sleep. Allergies can also be dangerous. It’s estimated that roughly ​5 Americans succumb​ to allergic anaphylaxis each day​. That’s why it’s important to undergo allergy tests and determine what you’re allergic to.

By doing so, you can protect your health and improve your quality of life.
So how do allergy tests work? There are two different types of tests: blood tests and skin tests. While we’re going to go over how both types of tests work, Immunotherapy NYC only conducts skin tests. We’ll explain why shortly.
First, let’s look at how allergy tests work.

How Allergy Skin Tests Work

An allergy skin test is an easy, effective, and highly accurate allergen test. It’s also affordable and provides results in a matter of minutes. 80 different environmental ​allergens​ will be applied to the skin on your back. Only tiny amounts of allergens will be applied, so the risk of a severe reaction is minimal. Skin tests are surface tests, meaning we don’t need to break the skin or insert anything under the skin.
Once the allergens are applied, they will work their way into your pores. If you’re allergic to a particular allergen, the body will react. Your body produces antibodies to combat a wide range of invading substances, from bacteria to allergens.

These antibodies are generally beneficial, protecting your body from foreign invaders. An allergy occurs when the immune system overreacts. This overreaction, in turn, produces your allergic reaction, including inflamed skin and restricted airways.
In the case of a skin test, if you’re allergic to a given allergen, your body will produce a wheal, which is a small, raised, reddened area. If you’re not allergic to a given substance, nothing happens.
If a wheal is formed, we can measure both how quickly it occurs and how severe the outbreak is. Simply by examining how large the wheal is, we can determine how severe the reaction is. The bigger the red blotch, the more severe the reaction.

Allergen Blood Tests (and Why We Prefer Skin Tests)

Allergen blood tests are very different from skin tests. Blood is drawn, which can be a painful process, and is then sent to a lab. The blood is then tested with ImmunoCAP, a quantitative assay that measures allergen-specific IgE. By ​measuring IgE​, the laboratory can determine if you’re body is reacting to the allergens.

Your doctor could also order a RAST, or Radioallergosorbent, test. However, this technique is being phased out in favor of ImmunoCAP. Another option is to use the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test. Most of these tests work in similar ways, measuring IgE.
Both blood and skin tests are highly accurate. However, blood tests are more intrusive, requiring doctors to draw blood. They are also more expensive as laboratory testing isn’t cheap. Further, you’ll have to wait several days, at least, for the results of a blood test. With a skin test, you’ll get the results within a matter of minutes.

In some cases, individuals with certain severe skin conditions, such as eczema or dermatitis, may be better served by a blood test​. Also, if you must take certain medications -such as steroids- that would interfere with the allergic reaction, you may have to take a blood test. Still, most medical professionals prefer skin tests because they are highly accurate, less intrusive, and more affordable.

If You’re Suffering From Allergies, Get Tested!

An allergy skin test will allow you to narrow down what’s causing your reactions. Once you know what’s causing you to react, we can use immunotherapy to help boost your body’s resistance to the offending allergens. With this allergy treatment, your body will be exposed to minute quantities of the allergen, allowing you to become desensitized to the allergen.

Schedule your allergy test today with Immunotherapy NYC!

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