As you know, many conditions have symptoms that are similar to one another. A fever, for example, could be indicative of an infection, the flu, COVID, or many other illnesses. Similarly, allergic symptoms like a runny nose, itchy eyes, or hives could also be due to various factors, allergens, or illnesses. That is why it’s important to take an allergy test.
What is an allergy test?
An allergy test is a diagnostic test that can identify allergies. The goal is to determine the specific allergens or substances that cause an allergic reaction in your body. There are a few different types of allergy tests, including:
- Skin prick or scratch tests
- Patch tests
- Blood or IgE antibody tests
- Challenge tests
- Intradermal or skin injection tests
Your allergist will administer the allergen in a controlled way and monitor you for effects. Some types of allergies that can be identified via allergy tests include food allergies, dermatitis or eczema, bee venom allergy, allergic asthma, and allergic rhinitis (hay fever).
Reasons you should get an allergy test
You may have allergies without even realizing it, especially if you have attributed your allergic symptoms to another cause. (Have you ever wondered if your runny nose is caused by seasonal allergies or a cold?) Approximately one-third of the population suffers from some type of allergy. The only way to know for certain whether you have allergies—and what those allergies are—is to have an allergy test done. Here are a few reasons to get an allergy test:
- You have food allergies.
Allergic reactions to foods can range from mild, like minor itching or redness, to life-threatening anaphylaxis. Knowing your food allergies can help you be prepared for your symptoms and allow you to avoid foods you are allergic to.
The symptoms of food allergies can be varied. Skin reactions to food allergies include hives, itching, rashes, or swelling. Respiratory symptoms may include wheezing, coughing, tightening of the airway, or shortness of breath. Digestive symptoms may also occur, such as diarrhea, abdominal pain or cramping, or nausea and vomiting.
- You are allergic to allergens in the air.
Without an allergy test, you will likely not be able to tell exactly which airborne allergens you are allergic to due to their minuscule size. Allergic rhinitis or hay fever is caused by allergens in the air like pollen, dust, and pet dander. Symptoms include nasal congestion, itchy or watery eyes, runny nose, or headaches. You may also experience a cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, or wheezing.
- You have skin allergic reactions.
Contact dermatitis is a common type of allergic reaction in which your skin reacts after contact with a substance. Skin allergens can include latex, metals like nickel, poison ivy, or fragrances. Symptoms of a skin allergy often include itching and a rash, which can become swollen and turn into hives. A skin allergy can also cause blisters with a burning sensation.
The benefits of an allergy test
There are several important benefits of getting an allergy test. First, with a diagnosis, you will be better able to manage your allergies. Although there is no cure for allergies, you can effectively manage your allergies (with your doctor’s help) once you know the triggers. This also allows you to avoid the triggers whenever possible.
Second, once you know your allergy triggers, you can avoid a possibly life-threatening situation. Severe allergies can cause your body to go into anaphylactic shock, which can be deadly. If you are aware that you have dangerous allergies, you can take steps to avoid those allergens.
Finally, getting an allergy test will make you aware of allergies that could possibly be passed to your children. You can also know which allergies may develop later in life and be aware of symptoms to watch for.
Getting an allergy test is a simple way to diagnose your allergies and start on the path to managing your allergy symptoms. To learn more and to schedule your allergy test with our allergist, we invite you to contact us today at West River ENT & Allergy.