Allergy Testing Q&A
What causes allergic reactions?
Allergic reactions like sneezing, wheezing, hives, swelling and other symptoms occur when the body’s immune system overreacts or reacts abnormally to triggers, or allergens, like pet dander, dust mites, foods, medications, soaps, plants, insect venom and other substances. Some allergies involving foods and medications can also cause gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea or other issues affecting the digestive system.
What kinds of allergy tests are available?
Allergy testing is available for a broad array of potential allergens or triggers, including:
- Food allergies
- Drug allergies including antibiotics and local anesthetics
- Stinging insect allergies
- Detergents, soaps and body products
- Aeroallergens like pollen, dust mites, mold spores and dander
How is allergy testing performed?
There are different types of testing depending on the allergens that are being evaluated, including skin patch tests, food and drug challenges and other methods designed to identify agents that cause allergic reactions.
Why is allergy testing performed?
Allergy testing is performed to determine the cause of moderate to severe allergic symptoms, especially those that interfere with your comfort or your daily living activities, or those which could potentially cause serious issues like problems swallowing or breathing. Allergy testing can help determine the triggers that cause allergic reactions so they can be avoided or so treatment plans can be developed to reduce allergic reactions over time.
What is immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy uses a series of injections or sometimes pills or drops placed under the tongue to help the body’s immune system “reprogram” its reaction to allergens so allergic reactions are reduced over time. Immunotherapy dosing is carefully controlled to avoid serious reactions during treatment. The aim of immunotherapy is to help your body develop a tolerance for specific allergens slowly, little by little over time, so when you come in contact with those allergens, your reaction will be significantly reduced.