Why Do Allergy Testing?
If you’re thinking about allergy testing, many people wonder what this entails and what to expect. First let’s review when to do testing.
- When the diagnosis of allergies is uncertain.
- When you would like to identify the offending triggers to help with avoidance measures and environmental control.
- When allergy or asthma symptoms are not controlled despite appropriate medications.
- When considering immunotherapy (allergy shots).
- When other related ENT problems exist that could be related to allergies. These can include chronic sinusitis, nasal polyps, fluid in the middle ear, chronic ear infections, voice disturbances, asthma, or enlarged adenoids.
- When the symptoms and complications of allergies or asthma are affecting your quality of life.
Allergy Testing Options
We feel that skin testing is extremely accurate. This process involves placing allergen extracts on or just under the skin and then measuring the response to each allergen. The advantage of this method is that the results can be read immediately and treatment started promptly. Some studies also show a greater sensitivity in picking up low-level allergies compared to blood testing. The disadvantages are that certain medications, such as antihistamines, must be discontinued before testing as they can interfere with the validity or safety of the tests. There is also some mild discomfort that can be experienced, such as itching.
The other form of testing is “in vitro” or blood testing. This involves taking a blood sample and sending it to the lab to be tested for each allergen. The advantage here is that it requires only one needle stick to draw the blood and isn’t affected by any medications the patient is taking. The disadvantage is that the results aren’t immediately available and so can require a follow-up visit to formulate the treatment plan.
Once tested you can be considered for either allergy shots, sublingual immunotherapy-drops that are administered by you at home, or sublingual tablets including Odactra, Grastex, and Ragwitex, which are FDA approved medications that can be taken from your home.