Why is Allergy Testing Important?
Finding out what you are allergic to is the first step toward finding effective ENTAllergy treatment. Today’s allergy tests are more convenient and accurate than ever, and when combined with an exam and detailed medical history, can identify the specific things that trigger your ENTAllergic reactions.1
Different people are sensitive to different allergens, so information about your symptoms and medical history are necessary to determine what type of testing is needed. 2
Before your testing begins, our ENTAllergy specialists will follow these steps 3
- Take a medical history regarding your health, your symptoms and whether members of your family have asthma, hay fever, hives or skin rashes like eczema.
- Ask about your symptoms, when they occur, how often they happen and what seems to bring them on.
- Ask you about your work, home and eating habits to see if these can provide clues to pinpoint ENTAllergy triggers.
- Perform a physical exam to check for associated health factors.
What Type of Allergy Tests are Done?
Adults and children of any age can be tested for ENTAllergies. 1
There are two types of skin tests.
In “skin prick” test, a drop of a suspected ENTAllergen is pricked on the surface of the skin of your back or forearm. Many suspected allergens are tested at the same time, and if you are allergic to one of the tests, you will have redness and swelling at the test spot for that allergen. 1
If your prick skin tests are negative, but your physician still suspects you might have ENTAllergies, a more sensitive “intradermal” test may be used in which a small amount of allergen is injected within the skin. 2
Skin testing is fast 1
For both types of skin tests, positive reactions usually appear within 20 minutes. You generally won’t have any other symptoms besides the small red spots where the tests were done, which go away within 30 minutes. Sometimes redness and swelling can occur several hours after skin testing. The delayed reaction usually disappears in 24 to 48 hours but should still be reported to the office.
Remember that the test results alone do not diagnose an ENTAllergy. All test results, from either type of test, must be interpreted together with the medical history and exam.
There are also blood tests for allergies 3
Generally skin testing is the most accurate and preferred method used by trained physicians.
Skin tests are more sensitive than blood tests, but a physician might use a blood test if:
- You're taking a medicine that could interfere with test results.
- You have very sensitive skin or a serious skin condition like eczema or psoriasis.
- You had a previous reaction to an allergen that suggested you were very sensitive and should avoid more exposure.
Why is the Choice of Allergy Test Important?
Patients are often sensitized to many allergens, but they are only clinically allergic, meaning they exhibit symptoms, to one or more specific substances. Allergy tests should not be ordered randomly, but rather, chosen based on symptoms, environmental and occupational exposures, age, and even hobbies.
The best test will be selected to pinpoint your specific ENTAllergens and develop the best treatment approach for you. All results will then be interpreted in the context of your medical history.