Should I Be Tested for Allergies?
The condition of allergies (also known as allergic rhinitis, skin rashes, asthma, or hay fever) is triggered when high pollen or dust counts fill the air. The symptoms associated with allergic rhinitis can be compared to experiencing a flu-like condition, including frequent itching of the nose and roof of mouth, the back of the throat, and the eyes. Sneezing is also common, as well as a general stuffiness in the ears and swollen, red eyes. Given the severity of allergies, its effects can either be seasonal or last all year wrong. While people not familiar with allergy attacks may confuse it for having a nasty cold, the symptoms can last weeks or even months. If these symptoms sound familiar, then it may be time to be tested for allergies.
There are three different types of tests that can be performed to see if a person has an allergic reaction. Taking any allergy medicines before the tests is not recommended.
- Scratch Test (also known as puncture or prick testing): This test is not similar to a shot, and as a result, does not cause bleeding. A physician will examine the skin on a patient's forearm or back and mark with a pen for allergen identification purposes. At this point a drop of extract for each potential allergen (pollen, animal dander or insect venom) is placed on the corresponding mark. The doctor will then use a small disposable device that is used to prick the skin, allowing the allergen extract to enter the outer layer of skin (known as the epidermis).
- Intradermal Test: This testing is similar to checking for tuberculosis. After examining and preparing a small area of skin, a small amount of a potential allergen is injected just under the superficial layers of the skin.
- Patch Test: This testing is done by applying a dose of allergen to a patch, which is then applied to the skin. This is usually done to locate a trigger of allergic contact dermatitis. If there are any allergic antibodies in the system, the surrounding skin will become itchy and irritable, similar to a mosquito bite. If this occurs, then there is an allergic reaction to the substance.
The Length of Allergen Testing
Testing for allergies does not take a lot of time. On average, testing will usually take about an hour. For scratch and intrademal tests, the allergen placement takes about five to ten minutes, and an additional fifteen minutes for a reaction to form. Patch tests take longer. A patch must be worn for about 48 hours to see if a delayed reaction occurs. Getting the patch wet is not recommended. Once the time period has passed, return to the doctor to find the results.
Living with Allergic Rhinitis
Testing for allergies can help an individual find out if any flu-like symptoms are related to allergies, and if so, it helps to determine the cause, the level of severity, and how to best manage it. Once the appropriate steps are taken, remedies can be found on how to get your allergens and daily life back under control.