The only way to treat your allergy symptoms is to determine their exact cause; this is accomplished through a series of allergy tests.
Skin Prick Testing
Skin tests are the preferred allergy test because they are safe, the cost is affordable and they offer the most accurate results.
How Does a Skin Test Procedure Work?
In prick testing, several drops of a solution containing the suspected allergen are placed on the surface of the skin, usually the forearm or back, and allowed to penetrate. A needle is used to prick or scratch the skin where the drops are placed.
If your body is allergic to this substance, the immune system will produce molecules called immunoglobulin E (IgE). The result is swelling and redness on the skin.
How Fast Are the Results of a Skin Prick Test?
The procedure is performed in-office and should take no longer than 20 to 40 minutes. Skin prick test results are available before you leave the doctor’s office. That’s because skin prick tests are visual, and an allergist can tell whether or not you are allergic to an allergen based on how your body responds to it.
Prick testing is safe and reliable. Other than a little discomfort, swelling or itching, there are no side effects to worry about. It is most often used to test for allergies to pollen, mold, dust mites, pet dander and food.
Blood Testing for Allergies
A blood test measures how much of an allergen-specific antibody, called immunoglobulin E, is in your blood. The more allergen-specific IgE in your blood, the more likely you are to be allergic.
The most common blood test is a radioallergosorbent (RAST) test. It screens for common allergy triggers such as pollen, mold, dust mites and pet dander.
Blood tests are typically used to confirm the results of a skin test; they may also be used instead of skin tests if a serious allergy makes skin testing unsafe.
When is blood testing preferred over skin testing?
Some medications and conditions make blood testing preferable because blood testing doesn’t expose a patient to allergens. Medicines on that list include antihistamines, steroids and antidepressants. People with life threatening allergies, skin conditions, asthma or heart conditions may all be better candidates for a blood test.
Call Burlington Ear Nose & Throat at (319) 752-2725 for more information or to schedule an appointment.