Allergies are a common problem for many people, but it takes allergy testing for you to know truly what is causing your allergy symptoms. Allergens are very annoying, and when you are not sure what your allergens are, it is difficult to stay away from it. Sometimes you are totally fine and then all of a sudden you feel an itch or a sneeze coming on. Your eyes start watering, and you realize you have been exposed to an allergen. Allergy testing does not diagnose every allergy, but it can help to diagnose seasonal and environmental allergens.
Everyone does not have allergies, so it may make you wonder what causes allergies. Allergies are the body’s immune response to allergens. When you come in contact with allergens, your body looks at them as it would bacteria or viruses. This allergic response starts early in your development process. As the immune system is developing, it goes through a training session. This session pretty much teaches the immune system what things belong to it; this prevents autoimmune diseases. An autoimmune disease is just the body attacking itself. The body recognizes its parts as foreign, and it begins to attack. Allergies are a result of the body recognizing allergens as a hazardous substance.
The body is not trying to work against you. It is there to help you and protect you. When allergens enter into your system, the body will attack it because it thinks they are harmful. Pollen, dust, peanut butter, and seafood are common allergens, but they are not naturally harmful to us. The body may see them as harmful and trigger an immune response. This immune response is what creates the symptoms that you know as allergies. The eyes begin to itch, you sneeze a lot, and sometimes things get very severe.
When you develop allergies, it is good to know what you are allergic to. Allergy testing is a great way for you and your doctor to see what things are creating your symptoms. You should see an allergist or immunologist. They are pretty much one in the same. The test is done in an office setting. In order for a doctor to see what you are allergic to, they have to expose you to possible allergens. It may sound completely crazy, but this method is very effective. Knowing what to expect from an allergy test will ease your mind.
Types of Testing
There are three types of allergy tests. The test is fairly similar and tests for specific allergens. One thing to know is that allergy test does not test every single allergen there is. An allergy test normally focuses on the more popular allergens. Some of the most popular allergens are:
- Nuts: walnuts, almonds, peanuts
This is only a few of the allergens that are tested. The doctor will probably test a lot more than that. Testing is done three different ways, but two of the three involve exposure to the allergen itself.
The first method of allergy testing is called an Allergy Challenge Test. The Challenge Test has to be carefully monitored. This method of testing is good for both medications and food allergies. The doctor will have you take the allergen by mouth or inhale the allergen through your nose. You can only take in small amounts, just in case your allergy is severe. An IgE skin test is the next method of choice. In an IgE skin test, the doctor pricks your skin with allergens. This is the most commonly used method of skin testing. Once you are pricked with an allergen, that area swells if there is a positive reaction. The swelling is small and may itch like you have a mosquito bite. If the test is not positive, nothing will happen. The doctor will write on your arm what each allergen is. This helps both them and you know what you are allergic to. If neither of these methods proves to be effective or leaves the doctor with uncertainty, a blood test is the next step. The blood test is called an IgE blood test. The blood test is another way for doctors to determine allergens. The downside about a blood test is that you cannot get results the same day. It takes a little more time to get results but it still works just as well.
Allergy tests are very effective in helping you, and your doctor figures out what is causing your allergy symptoms. If you know what the source of your problem is, you will be more effective in preventing or avoiding it. Seasonal allergies are treated with anti-histamines. You can get medication over-the-counter for that. Food allergies just have to be completely avoided. If the allergy is mild, it is not a big deal. Some people still eat things they are only mildly allergic to. When food allergies become severe, it is important for you to keep emergency medication with you in the case of an emergency. If you know you have allergies and are not sure what they are; you should go for allergy testing. It can change your life and give you a greater awareness.
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