Skin & Blood Allergen Testing
According to WebMD, one in five Americans suffer from allergies. There are many things that can cause an allergic reaction, including specific types of pollen, foods, animal dander, dust, medications, and almost anything else you may encounter on a regular basis. Allergic reactions can range from mild irritation to asphyxiation, so it's very important to ensure that your potential allergies are treated properly. Part of your diagnosis and treatment may include allergy testing.
Skin testing is one of the primary methods for diagnosing many allergies. During this type of test, a tiny amount of allergen is applied to the skin or injected directly beneath the skin through a series of pin pricks. The application or injection sites are then monitored closely for signs of allergen, including redness, itching, or irritation. Some reactions may not show up for a day or two, so a follow-up consultation may be required.
There are several benefits to skin prick, intradermal, or patch tests. This type of testing is relatively noninvasive and provides results quickly. Pain is usually pretty low as well, but there may be discomfort caused by lingering skin irritation. Skin testing also allows for testing of multiple potential allergens at a time, making it a very efficient method of allergy testing. In addition, skin testing can be more reliable than blood testing for certain airborne allergens, such as pet dander or pollen.
There are some situations in which skin testing may be impossible or inadvisable. Blood tests for allergies may be used in these situations. During a blood allergy test, a sample of blood is taken and analyzed for specific antibodies that the body makes in response to exposure to certain allergens. However, blood tests are generally more expensive and less sensitive than skin allergy tests. It can also take longer to get lab results back.
Allergen blood testing is often used when a skin test is not practical. For example, patients who have shown severe allergic reactions may opt for blood testing. Other reasons for blood testing include certain medications, skin conditions, or numerous positive allergen results. Blood testing can also be seen as less invasive for certain patients because it is a single needle stick instead of multiple.
Allergies can make you very miserable -- or cause life-threatening situations. Properly treating severe allergies is a very important step for healthful living. Allergy testing is often used to help diagnose and prescribe treatment methods for those suffering from allergies.
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