According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness and affect an estimated 30% of adults and 40% of children. With no cure to allergies, it becomes an issue of diagnosis and then managing allergies through treatment, of which there are a variety of options, depending on the type of allergies you have and how severe they are.
The most difficult step is diagnosis and determining whether or not you have an allergy to something. Outside of the obvious signs that one may be allergic to a particular substance, there are tests that can be performed to determine the source of the allergic reaction.
How do You Test for and Diagnose Allergies?
The most common allergy testing method is the skin test. The skin allergy test will utilize the most common inhaled triggers, as well as other irritants and common food allergies. The skin prick test involves dipping a multi-prong device into a total of 70 different allergens and then applying the prongs to the skin along the inside of the arm or the back. The prongs are not needles and do not break the skin, but by applying the allergen-dipped prong to the skin, it allows enough exposure to the skin to determine whether or not you have an allergic reaction.
The three major type of allergen groups that are typically tested include, but are not limited to:
- Outdoor Allergens: trees, pollen, grass, weeds
- Indoor Allergens: dust, dust mites, mold, pet dander
- Food Allergens: shellfish, eggs, milk, nuts, soy
After about skin has been exposed to the allergens for about 20 minutes, you should begin to see some type of reaction if you are allergic. Symptoms such as itching, redness, irritation, and small bumps would begin to appear near the site of the allergen you may be allergic to.
In addition to the allergens, a small amount of histamine is also applied. The skin should have a standard, normal reaction to the histamine. This is done to help validate the test. Should your skin not react to the histamine, it may be a sign that there are still medications blocking reactions to histamine in the body (such as allergy medication). The test would need to be reassessed.
For life-threatening allergies, doctors may assess a blood test to confirm the allergic reaction in the body without exposing the body unnecessarily to the allergen.
Why Should You Test for Allergies?
Allergies can wreak havoc on the body and even be deadly, depending on the level of allergic reaction your body may have when exposed. Since there are no cures to allergies, avoidance of allergic triggers is a key part of learning to live with allergies.
In order to be able to avoid your allergy triggers, you have to know what the triggers are. Since you can easily be exposed to a number of the allergens at any given time, it may be hard to pinpoint exactly what’s triggering the allergic reaction. By testing for allergies, you can better manage your allergies by diagnosing exactly what is causing the reaction and learning to manage your allergies from there.
In conclusion, while allergies do not affect everyone, they do affect a large percentage of people. If you have not tested for any allergies, but experience symptoms on a regular basis (runny nose, cough, congestion, itchy skin or rashes, hives), it might be time to get tested.
Allergy and Asthma Specialist in New York
If you suffer from any of the above symptoms and have not been tested for allergies, it’s time to get tested. Dr. Shukla and his team have been helping test patients for allergies throughout the New York area. By testing for allergies, Dr. Shukla is then able to diagnose and properly treat patients for allergies so that they can go on about their life. Contact the premier allergy and asthma specialist in New York today at (917) 935-4864 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an allergy test!