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Whether a person has an allergy or not can be determined by conducting an allergy test. It is performed by trained specialists who not only identify the type of allergy you are suffering from but also provide information on the possible remedies. There are various types of allergy tests, including blood tests, skin tests and challenge tests.
According to experts, more than 50 million Americans suffer from some form of allergy. Anyone from any age group can suffer from allergy-related problems.
Although it is recommended to consult a doctor as soon as you start noticing the allergy symptoms, staying informed about the problem can also help you take the initial steps to prevent the allergy from worsening. Here are some of the allergies you may experience:
Causes — eggs, peanuts, milk, fish, shellfish, soy, sesame seeds, mustard seeds
Symptoms — vomiting, stomach cramps, coughing, hoarse throat, dizziness
Causes — certain plants, chemical products, foods, medications
Symptoms — rashes, eczema, hives, itchy patches, raised bumps, fever
Cause — dust mites, dust
Symptoms — teary eyes, runny nose, sneezing, wheezing, itching, rhinitis
Causes — pollen and other air-borne particles
Symptoms — shortness of breath, stuffy nose, headache, fatigue, rashes, sneezing
The other common allergies include reactions to insect stings, mold, latex, drug-related allergies and allergies to pets. Allergies can be treated with the help of a certified allergist, who can diagnose the symptoms and provide effective solutions. Allergists perform skin and blood tests to determine the type of allergic reaction you are experiencing.
Which Test Is Right For You
Skin tests involve little to no pain and take about 15-30 minutes to perform. You can opt for a ‘prick test’ where a small amount of a certain allergen is pricked on the surface of your skin. The pricking is usually done on your forearm or your back. Alternatively, you can choose intradermal skin testing where the suspected allergen is injected in your body with the help of a needle.
In this method, several allergens are tested at one time, and if the person has an allergy, his body will react to the allergen. The reaction may take up to 20-30 minutes to appear. The symptoms are usually very mild, such as small hives or irritated skin, and appear at the place the allergen was pricked or injected.
It takes longer to get blood test results as compared to the almost instant skin test results. In some cases, a skin test can be unsafe and may not even be a viable option — such as in the case of people with certain skin conditions — and thus, a blood test is preferred.
This method requires a small sample of blood to be taken and then the suspected allergen is added to it. The doctors then measure the number of antibodies produced during the test.