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What Happens During Allergy Testing?

What Happens During Allergy Testing?

Allergies happen when your immune system reacts to substances that aren’t usually harmful. These reactions can range from mild sniffles and sneezing to life-threatening anaphylactic shock. The more information you have about these substances — called allergens — the easier it is to avoid or cope with them. 

Allergy tests use small samples of suspected allergens to produce a response, confirming or eliminating your sensitivity. Choosing an allergy testing specialist like Dr. Scott N. Bateman at Sheridan Ear, Nose, and Throat assures thorough investigation of the allergens that affect you. 

Three forms of testing

Allergy tests are simple. Skin testing is most common, and you’ll have results moments later. Some allergy tests require blood testing, and results from these could take longer. 

If you have food allergies, you may undergo something called food challenge testing. It’s less common and sometimes requires verification through other types of tests. 

What happens during a skin test

Skin testing is usually done with a procedure called scratch or prick testing. The doctor marks off a grid on your body, and he makes a shallow scratch in each square, to which he applies a sample of a potential allergen. Most of the squares remain normal, but when you have an allergy to a substance, your skin shows a reaction, typically within 15 minutes. 

Skin tests also include control tests of histamine, to which your skin should react, and glycerin, to which your skin should not react. This is done to check that your skin is reacting normally, and it helps to validate your body’s responses to these samples. 

There are two other skin tests that are less common. Patch tests, often used to check for contact dermatitis or eczema, use an adhesive patch left in place for 48 hours to check for allergic response. Injection tests use a needle to place an allergen beneath your skin’s surface. This is used when a skin test fails to produce a response from a substance that’s strongly suspected to be an allergen. Scratch testing can sometimes produce false results, too, requiring an injection test. 

Blood tests

Sometimes, even the gentle strains of skin test allergens can cause severe allergic reactions. That’s one reason why Dr. Bateman may turn to blood testing. Blood tests have the added advantage of sparing you direct exposure to the substances being assessed. Blood tests are both less sensitive and more expensive than most forms of skin testing. 

Challenge tests

While other forms of testing can give clues about food allergies, they can be inconclusive. During a challenge test, you’ll eat or inhale small amounts of the test substances, usually at timed intervals, to see if they produce allergic responses. Challenge tests are done under medical supervision, so that any dangerous response can be treated immediately. The details of a challenge test depend on the foods being tested. 

You can book an allergy test with Sheridan Ear, Nose, and Throat in Sheridan, Wyoming by calling our office directly at 307-672-0290, or using the convenient online tool. When we can correctly identify your allergens, you can get the treatment you need, so schedule your appointment today. 

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