Over 50 million people a year deal with some form of allergy, which is also the sixth leading cause of chronic illness. Allergies are one of the most common conditions among children, with seasonal, skin, and food allergies being frequent among children and adults. Many things can trigger allergic reactions, and it can be difficult when you don’t know the cause of your symptoms.
Allergy tests help determine what you’re allergic to, so you can be treated for the right allergen and get relief. If you live in the Orlando or Kissimmee, Florida areas and need allergy testing, Drs. Wade Han, Elvira Livigni De Armas, and the skilled team at Florida Ear, Nose, Throat, & Facial Plastic Surgery Center can help. But before you come visit us, you might wonder how allergy tests work.
To explore this, let’s first look at how allergies work and their symptoms. Then we’ll explore how allergy tests can help determine what you’re allergic to.
Your immune system protects your body from foreign substances like bacteria, viruses, and other harmful particles. Allergies, however, are abnormal immune responses to specific particles (allergens) found in various sources, including plants, animals, mold, and foods.
When you have an allergic response, your body overreacts to a substance (called an allergen) and causes your body to fight it. This creates the responses you may have to pet dander, pollen, ragweed, foods, latex, dust mites, some medications, and many other things.
Symptoms of allergies
Because so many different things can cause allergic reactions, symptoms can vary in frequency and severity. Some allergens and their reactions are:
- Airborne allergens and hay fever: sneezing, itching, runny nose, and watery eyes
- Food allergies: mouth tingling, hives, and swelling in the mouth area
- Insect bites: large swelling, itching, hives, and shortness of breath for insect bites
- Drug allergies: reactions to certain drugs like penicillin, aspirin, antibiotics, and others; can lead to itching, rash, swelling, wheezing, and hives
- Skin allergies: contact dermatitis (a condition caused by a reaction to various products; can lead to rash, itching, burning, blisters, and other types of irritation to the skin
Many of these allergy types can also lead to more severe symptoms like anaphylaxis, which can then lead to loss of consciousness, hypotension, severe shortness of breath, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, and rapid or weak pulse.
How allergy tests help detect them
Allergy tests help to isolate specific substances through mild exposure of the skin to different possible allergens to see what kind of treatment can be used to treat it. This can be accomplished through skin prick or skin injection tests, where particles are either scratched on the top layer of skin or injected just underneath to see if your skin reacts adversely to any of them. Patch tests can also be done, in which patches containing allergens are put on your skin to test for reactions.
Blood allergy tests measure the amount of immunoglobulin E (IgE, the antibody your immune system produces when responding to threats to the body) in your blood. There are two tests: one that measures the total amount of IgE in your blood (total IgE test) and a test that measures the amount of IgE in your blood in response to allergic reactions (specific IgE test).
Skin tests can be done quickly, where the results of either blood test can take a few days to obtain. Blood tests can also be done for people who can’t have skin tests for whatever reason.
These are ways we can help identify and treat the source of your allergies so you can live free of the frustration and irritation of the symptoms. If you’re dealing with allergies and don’t know what’s causing them, make an appointment with Drs. Han, Livigni de Armas, and Florida Ear Nose Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery Center today for help.