Allergy Testing

Girl With Nasal Allergies SneezingWhen you have allergy, asthma, or sinus problems, your immune system identifies the substance you breathed in, touched, or ate as an invader (allergen). It then overreacts by producing antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which travel to the cells, release chemicals, and cause an allergic reaction.

Allergy symptoms can range from mild (sneezing, coughing, hives) to severe, and potentially fatal ( anaphylaxis). Yet many people have untreated allergies because they are unaware that their symptoms are actually being caused by an allergic reaction.

Common Allergy Symptoms

Allergy symptoms vary by allergen. Symptoms which usually prompt testing include:

Respiratory Allergy Symptoms

Respiratory allergy symptoms can include:

  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Itchy nose
  • Scratchy throat
  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Chest congestion
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing

These symptoms may be caused by asthma, sinusitis, hay fever, or a number of common allergies such as dust mites or pet dander.

Skin Allergy Symptoms

Skin allergy symptoms can include:

Common skin allergens include nickel, perfume, latex, and cosmetics.

Abdominal Allergy Symptoms

Abdominal allergy symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea

The symptoms usually persist after eating certain foods.

Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis, which is a severe, total-body reaction to an allergen, can be brought on by any of the following:

  • Food allergies
  • Insect stings, such as bee stings
  • Medications
  • Latex allergy

Symptoms include hives, itchiness, flushing or swelling.

If you think you’re experiencing an allergic reaction, it is very important that you seek out medical care.

Types of Allergy Tests

Allergy tests, along with a comprehensive physical exam and evaluation of your medical history allow us to pinpoint the cause of your symptoms. Types of allergy tests include:

  • IgE Skin Tests: These tests are the most common, and cause little discomfort. Your doctor will put a tiny amount of certain allergens into your skin by making a small indentation on the surface of your skin.

If you have allergies, a bump the size of a mosquito bite will develop where the allergen was introduced. For example, if you’re allergic to pet dander, but not pollen, only the pet dander will cause swelling or itching. The spot where the pollen was applied with remain normal. The reaction should occur within about 20 minutes, with the hives going away in about 30 minutes.

If your skin prick test comes back negative, but your doctor suspects you have allergies, more sensitive intradermal tests may be used.

  • Challenge Tests: Your doctor will ask you to inhale or swallow a very small amount of allergen. Challenge tests are usually performed to determine potential food or medication allergies.
  • IgE Blood Tests: Your doctor will draw blood, making the results less readily available as it is with other tests. Blood tests may be performed when skin tests might be unsafe or ineffective. For example, certain medications or skin conditions can interfere with the results of a kin test.

It is essential that any allergy testing you undergo is supervised by a trained allergist.

Allergy Treatment Options

Treatment options vary by allergy.

Food allergies usually require avoiding the allergen completely, and carrying an epinephrine auto-injector (such as EpiPen®, Avi-Q® or Adrenaclick®) at all times.

Allergies to insects, depending on the severity, may also require carrying an epinephrine auto-injector.

Other allergies, such as pollen, dust mites, mold, or pet dander may require immunotherapy (allergy shots) to reduce or eliminate symptoms.

During your appointment, your doctor will discuss your options and recommend an appropriate course of treatment.

If you are experiencing allergy, sinus, or asthma symptoms, call (404) 994-3574 schedule your appointment with Dr. Hurwitz and his team of board certified allergy specialists today.The Center for Allergy & Asthma of Georgia has a no-wait appointment policy and multiple locations throughout the Atlanta metro area, including offices in Smyrna/Vinings, Villa Rica, Peachtree City / Fayetteville and more.