Allergies are an overreaction of your immune system that results in foreign substances your body is exposed to (which are called allergens), and millions of Americans deal with it. Over 50 million people struggle with allergic rhinitis (an allergic condition that affects your sinuses, also called hay fever), and up to 30 million people have asthma, which often has an allergic component. People can have an allergic reaction to any number of substances, which can affect their sinuses, skin, breathing, or even digestion.
Getting treatment for allergies often means getting tests to confirm the cause of your body’s responses to allergens, and allergy tests are designed to do just that. These tests can help isolate the reasons for your body’s reactions to specific allergens, and to find out what to expect from the tests, let’s examine the cause of allergies, how testing helps, and what you can expect from the appointment.
Residents of the Lake Oswego, Oregon, area looking for relief from allergies can find help with the team of specialists and their skilled medical staff at Lake Grove ENT.
Your immune system is your body’s response system to invasion by viruses, bacteria, and other harmful substances trying to get in. An allergic response is the result of your body reacting adversely to normal substances as if they were threats, which causes your body to create antibodies to fight them off. When your body is exposed to that allergen, it creates chemicals that cause your allergy symptoms, such as histamine.
Various substances can trigger allergic reactions, including pet dander, pet urine, mold, certain foods, insect bites, medications, and latex. These allergens result in familiar symptoms, such as sneezing, itching, runny nose, watery eyes, hives, rashes, facial swelling, wheezing, and anaphylaxis.
Many of the symptoms mentioned are similar to other conditions like upper respiratory conditions and various skin conditions, but allergies stem from exposure to specific allergens. Allergy testing helps to isolate the substance that causes the reaction, accurately diagnose the problem, and develop a strategy to treat the problem. This will often consist of skin testing (exposing your skin to allergens to see which of them elicit a response), blood testing, and a detailed medical history to determine patterns and, more accurately, arrive at a diagnosis.
There are different types of skin testing, including:
The first step is getting a detailed history of medical problems, common signs and symptoms, and the ways you’re treating them. This can help to narrow down the possible allergens and determine if the issues may run in the family. A physical exam may also be necessary to get more information to make a diagnosis. You will be asked to stop taking antihistamines several days before testing.
Once that information is gathered, skin and blood tests are done to both expose your body to various allergens and to measure the levels of IgE antibodies (a type of immunoglobulin present in allergic reactions). A methacholine challenge test (also called a bronchoprovocation test) may be performed to diagnose asthma, which involves inhaling allergens to test for a reaction. Allergy testing can take up to 40 minutes, and results may happen within minutes or may take several days.
Allergy testing is an important step to finding out what’s causing your allergies and how best to treat them. If you need an allergy test, make an appointment with the medical team at Lake Grove ENT today to get started.