The Basics Of Allergy Testing: What Your Options Are

As evidenced by the rapidly expanding allergy medication market, allergies are a common occurrence across the population. In fact, allergies of all kinds seem as though they are becoming more prevalent, from seasonal allergies to food allergies and more. If you believe that you or one of your loved ones might be allergic to something but you aren't sure what the actual source is, you might want to consider allergy testing. Here's a look at a few different methods to discuss with your doctor.

Skin Response

The most common method of allergy testing is skin response testing. There are a few different methods for skin response tests, though. The most common is an abrasion-type test where allergens are introduced to a solution. Then the solution is administered to your skin with a small prick or scratch that allows it to get below the surface layers of your skin.

Sometimes, skin response tests are done with patches that are applied and monitored over a couple of days to see what kind of skin changes occur. In other situations, intradermal methods are used, in which the potential allergen is actually injected under the skin to watch for a response.

Skin response testing can be used for many potential allergens, but it isn't effective for most medications. It is, however, affected by the use of antihistamines, so you may be asked to forego your allergy medication for a few days before the appointment.

Blood Analysis

Blood analysis for allergen response is another method that's sometimes used for determining what you're allergic to. This is typically used when your doctor is worried about a possible severe reaction from introducing an allergen, so they avoid introducing that allergen to you and, instead, test your blood for antibodies that show an allergic response. Blood testing isn't affected by your antihistamine use, so you can continue taking your allergy medication before this type of test.

Challenge Testing

Food allergies are a serious concern for many people, and they can trigger severe responses up to and including anaphylaxis. That's why it's important for food allergy testing to be done by professionals. If skin response and blood testing don't provide conclusive results of a food allergy and there's still suspicion, your allergist might recommend hospital admission for challenge testing. During this process, they introduce the suspected allergen to you to see how your body responds. It's often done in stages, with you consuming smaller amounts first and gradually increasing the amount as the test continues.

These are a few of the methods used to identify and determine allergens that are provoking a response. Talk with your doctor today to see what your options are to determine what you're allergic to.