Any time your body’s immune system overreacts to an otherwise harmless substance, you’re having an allergic reaction. These substances may be organic particles in the air such as pollen or dust, or pollutants like smoke or chemicals. You can also suffer allergies to insect bites, foods, or substances that contact your skin.
Why allergies happen to some people and not others isn’t well understood, nor is the reason why symptoms may be annoying to some and life-threatening to others. However, when you’re sensitive to a substance, called an allergen, you experience predictable responses.
Key to coping with allergies is awareness of those allergens that trigger immune system responses. Choosing allergy testing with Sheridan Ear, Nose and Throat in Sheridan, Wyoming provides you with expert care from Dr. Scott Bateman. His practice specializes in allergy diagnosis and treatment. When you contact Sheridan Ear, Nose and Throat about allergies, the first step the doctor takes after your initial consultation is identifying your reactive allergens. Here’s what you need to know about allergy testing.
You can experience allergies in different forms. Common allergic reactions and their symptoms include:
- Hay fever: itchy eyes and palette, runny nose, sneezing
- Insect bites: swelling around the bite, itchiness over your body, hives, shortness of breath, anaphylaxis
- Drug allergy: anaphylaxis, facial swelling, hives, itchy skin, breathing difficulties, rash
- Food allergy: tingling sensation in your mouth, swelling of the tongue and lips, hives, anaphylaxis
- Atopic dermatitis: itchy, red, flaking or peeling skin, eczema
Types of allergy testing
While there are many ways to identify allergens, skin and blood tests are the most common.
Sometimes known as prick or puncture tests, scratch testing uses lancets that create scratches on your skin’s surface. These small pricks generally cause no bleeding and only momentary discomfort, and they allow placement of allergen samples shallowly under the skin. Children usually have skin tests done on their backs, while adults may have them on their backs or forearm.
Scratch testing reveals the status of up to 40 different allergens through skin reactions occurring within 15 minutes of application. Substances to which you’re allergic show a bump or rash-like response resembling a mosquito bite, while non-allergic substances create no response.
As well as samples of allergens, two other substances reveal the accuracy of your allergic responses. First, saline solution or glycerin usually won’t cause skin reactions unless you have unusually sensitive skin. Dr. Bateman uses one of these to test for sensitivity. Second, most people show an allergic response when exposed to histamine in a scratch test. If you don’t show a reaction, your skin testing may not accurately reflect your reaction to other allergens.
Other types of skin testing include injection testing, typically used for penicillin or insect venom, and patch testing, which helps diagnose contact dermatitis.
Allergies also reveal themselves through blood testing. Though results take days rather than minutes, blood tests work when scratch tests prove inaccurate.
With a quick call to Sheridan Ear, Nose and Throat, you can schedule an allergy test for yourself or a loved one. You can reach us at 307-672-0290 or use the appointment link on this page.