Allergies can be difficult to diagnose and manage, making allergy testing an invaluable tool in helping identify what triggers your symptoms. While there are a variety of tests available, it’s important to understand the basics of each one before undergoing allergy testing.
In this article, we’ll discuss the different types of allergy testing that exist, how they work, and their benefits. We’ll also provide some tips on how you can prepare for these tests and protect yourself during them.
What are the Different Types of Allergy Tests?
The three most common types of allergy tests are skin prick testing, intradermal testing, and blood tests.
- Skin prick test– This involves placing a drop of allergen extract on the arm or back and pricking the surface of the skin with a small needle to introduce it below the surface. This test can be used to detect a wide range of allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and certain foods.
- Intradermal testing– This involves injecting a small amount of allergen extract just below the skin’s surface at multiple sites on the arm or back. It is usually only used to test for atypical allergies and infections that cannot be tested using a skin prick test.
- Blood tests– These tests measure the amount of allergy-causing antibodies in your blood, which can help detect an allergy to certain foods or other substances. They are more expensive than skin tests and may take several days to get results. This type of test is often used to diagnose atypical allergies and infections.
What are the Benefits of Allergy Testing?
There are several benefits to undergoing allergy testing, including the following:
- Identifying the cause of your allergies– Allergy testing can help you to identify what triggers your symptoms, which can make managing them much easier.
- Accurately diagnose atypical allergies and infections– Blood tests are an effective way to accurately diagnose atypical allergies and infections that may otherwise be difficult to detect. This is especially important if atypical allergies could be causing your symptoms.
- More effective treatment of symptoms– Once you know what triggers your allergy symptoms, you can take the appropriate steps to manage them and reduce their severity or frequency.
How Should You Prepare for Allergy Testing?
Before undergoing an at home allergy test, it’s important to prepare yourself properly. Here are some tips to help you do so:
- Have a conversation with your doctor– Talk to your doctor about the type of testing they recommend and any potential risks or side effects associated with it. They will also be able to provide advice on how best to prepare for at-home allergy tests.
- Avoid taking certain medications– Certain medications, such as antihistamines, may interfere with the accuracy of skin and blood tests. Your doctor will advise you on whether or not you need to stop taking these for a period of time before undergoing testing.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing– Loose-fitting clothes are best for skin tests, as they allow easy access to the areas that will be tested.
- Bring a list of your allergies and medications– It’s important to provide your doctor with a complete medication list, as well as any current or past allergies you may have. This will help them ensure that they are testing for the appropriate allergens.
How Can You Protect Yourself During Allergy Testing?
Allergy testing is generally safe, but there are some steps you can take to ensure that it’s as comfortable and successful as possible. Here are some tips to help you protect yourself during allergy tests:
- Let your doctor know if you have any allergies to the test solution– If you’re allergic to the testing solution, it may cause an unintended reaction. Be sure to let your doctor know if you have any allergies prior to beginning the test.
- Avoid touching or rubbing the skin after testing– If you’ve had a skin prick test, try not to touch or rub the area where the allergen was applied. Doing so may cause an unintended reaction.
- Take medications as directed– If your doctor recommends taking antihistamines or other medications before testing, be sure to take them as directed. This will help ensure that the test results are accurate and reliable.
By understanding the different types of allergy tests available, preparing yourself properly, and taking steps to protect yourself during the tests, you can ensure that your allergy testing experience is successful.