Allergy Testing

A doctor administers an allergy test on a patient’s arm.

What is causing my allergy symptoms?

Allergic reactions are the painful symptoms you feel when you encounter an allergen. A skin prick test may be used to help to determine the source of your allergies. Along with your medical history and a physical examination, allergy skin tests performed by a specialist can also determine what is causing your severe reactions and the best allergy treatment for you. Skin testing involves placing a small drop of an allergen extract on your skin. A needle is then used to prick the skin underneath the drop; this allows for a small amount of solution to enter just below the surface of the skin. After 15 minutes, any swelling or redness is measured and, depending on the size, is considered a positive reaction. An intradermal skin test is completed next. An intradermal wheal, or bleb, is injected directly under the top layer of skin. After 15 minutes, any reactions are measured and classified as either positive or negative.

Allergy Blood Testing

The higher allergen-specific Immunoglobulin (IgE) levels in your blood, the more likely you are to have allergic reactions. Blood tests are typically used to confirm the results of a skin test; they may also be used in place of skin tests if the possibility of a serious allergy makes skin testing unsafe.

Food allergy testing may be done through blood testing. An elimination diet that involves removing the food in question from your diet for two to four weeks may also be an effective form of food allergy testing. If your symptoms resolve, there is a good chance the food was causing the reaction. Your doctor may also recommend returning the problematic food to your diet, just to make sure the symptoms return.

Allergy Skin Testing

Our management of inhalant (airborne) allergy involves MQT (Modified Quantitative Testing), which is a “screening” of the antigens, and IDT (intradermal skin testing) of 38 different dusts, pollens, and molds most prevalent in this area, as well as cockroaches and pet dander from cats, dogs, and feathers. These allergy tests take approximately 2 hours. The MQT is conducted on the forearm and the IDT test is done on the area between the shoulder and the elbow on both arms. If you are “needle queasy”, we will call in a prescription to your pharmacy for a numbing cream to use before you arrive for testing. A small amount of antigen is injected to make a “wheal”, which looks like a small blister. Ten minutes after the complete row of antigens is injected, the arm is checked for any reaction. A positive or negative reaction is determined by the change in the wheal size. By the end of the test, you will know the results, and all information – printed and verbal – will be discussed in detail. Treatment consists of weekly allergy shots, which are initially administered in our office. Once the maintenance dose is reached, they may be continued in the office, administered at another medical facility, or you may be trained to administer them yourself. We also offer sublingual drops which are taken home and placed under the tongue daily. These are great for children and patients who do not tolerate needles well. They are also ideal for patients with co-pays and those who travel any distance to our office. Sublingual drops are not covered by any insurance.

Tests for Food Allergies

Food allergies can be extremely dangerous and sometimes hard to figure out. At Ascentist Healthcare, we offer a couple of different food allergy testing options. Your ENT will determine which is the best to use based on your medical history, existing allergies, and physical exam. Provocative Neutralization Food Testing is done very much like skin endpoint titration. The seven “hidden” foods that are very prevalent in the average American diet are tested. These are corn (the most commonly used sugar), egg, malt, milk, soy, wheat, and yeast. A wheal is made with a food antigen and the patient is observed for any change in condition. This may include headache, fatigue, congestion, cough, and other symptoms common with food allergens. If there is a reaction, weaker doses of the same antigen are given until the reaction has cleared. The food that provoked a reaction must be avoided for a certain amount of time to alleviate the symptoms. Nutritional counseling and diet modification will be discussed in detail. Once the food has been avoided for a while, sublingual food drops may be used periodically if the food is to be eaten.

We offer another food test in which 96 foods are tested. This is done through a blood test. The blood sample is sent to Massachusetts where the test is done. The results package includes a list of food sensitivities, foods to avoid, a shopping list, menu planning, etc. Our office should receive results in 2 weeks. Sublingual Food drops are not available for this test.

What should I know before my allergy test?

If you are taking a beta-blocker for any reason, we will not be able to test you using MQT or IDT. We can still do the food testing through a blood draw, however. This includes some eye drops mainly used for glaucoma, which also may be beta-blockers. You must discuss any medication alternatives with your physician. We have a list of beta-blockers in the office if you are not sure about the medication you are taking. If you can stop the beta-blocker until after the testing, we have sublingual drops available for treatment. These may be used while taking the beta-blocker.

If you are pregnant or nursing, you must wait until after the baby is born or until nursing is stopped before testing. We do not want to introduce something new into your system that may affect the baby.

The only way to determine which allergy test is best for you is by completing a full exam with a specialist from Ascentist Healthcare.

We are always looking for ways to help make life easier for allergy patients. We test ages five years and older in a patient-friendly environment. You and your family members will be treated in a compassionate and caring way.

If you are tired of suffering from daily allergy symptoms, then it’s time to get tested with Ascentist Healthcare. Our specialists can help you find relief and create an allergy treatment plan based on your goals.

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