What Are the Different Types of Allergy Tests?

woman at doctors office Some people break out in hives while others sneeze and get itchy eyes. What these symptoms have in common is that they are allergic reactions.

In this blog, the ear, nose and throat doctors at Lakeside Allergy ENT explain the different types of allergy tests.

 

What Causes Allergic Reactions?

Allergic reactions occur when the immune system releases antibodies to combat harmless substances like peanuts, pollen or eggs.

The immune system floods the body with histamines to attack these substances, called allergens, and cause symptoms such as inflamed sinuses, skin rashes and stomach problems. The most common allergens are:

  • Pet dander
  • Dust mites
  • Peanuts, shellfish, milk, wheat and soybeans
  • Insect bites
  • Medications
  • Latex
  • Mold and mildew
  • Pollen

 

When Are Allergy Tests Recommended?

For the more than 50 million Americans who suffer from allergies, allergy testing is an effective tool in determining the causes of allergies. After allergy testing, your doctor will find out what you’re allergic to and will formulate a treatment plan to reduce your symptoms.

What Are the Different Types of Allergy Tests?

Your doctor uses several different kinds of allergy tests to pinpoint the cause of your allergies. Two testing varieties involve introducing allergens onto the skin, while the third tests the blood for the presence of certain antibodies.

Prick Testing

Prick testing involves making tiny punctures into the skin and introducing allergens onto the area to see if a reaction occurs. Allergic reactions make the affected skin itch, swell and turn red. Prick testing can be performed on the back, upper arm or forearm.

Prick testing takes an hour to conduct and can be slightly uncomfortable for the patient if a reaction occurs. Since this allergy test doesn’t use needles, it’s great for children and others who are afraid of needles.

Intradermal Skin Tests

With intradermal skin tests, your doctor will use a needle to inject tiny amounts of allergen under the skin and will then wait for an allergic reaction. Similar to prick testing, results are almost immediate. This form of testing also allows doctors to more accurately determine the amount of sensitivity than prick testing does.

Intradermal allergy tests are best suited to determine the following allergies:

  • Respiratory
  • Penicillin
  • Insect bites
  • Specific types of food

RAST Tests

RAST tests use a blood sample to check for the presence of allergens. RAST, which stands for Radioimmunoassay Test, finds antibodies in the blood that are tied to certain allergens. After blood is drawn, the sample is sent to a laboratory for testing. RAST allergy tests offer the following advantages:

  • It’s highly specific in detecting allergens.
  • Patients don’t have to stop taking allergy medications prior to testing.
  • Children handle the test well.
  • Only one blood draw is required to test for a wide variety of allergens.

Once your allergens are identified, doctors can tailor a treatment plan to alleviate your symptoms, such as:

  • Recurring ear infections
  • Sinusitis
  • Post-nasal discharge
  • Persistent coughing

 

Where Can I Get Allergy Tests?

If you suffer from allergies and think you could benefit from allergy tests, make an appointment today at Lakeside Allergy ENT. Our practice employs three board-certified otolaryngologists who conduct allergy tests in addition to treating disorders of the ear, nose and throat.  Our doctors treat patients of all ages at our three convenient locations in Forney, Rockwall and Wylie. Call us at 972-771-5443 or click the Patient Information tab on our website to request an appointment today.

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