Allergy Testing


Allergies are the result of the body’s abnormal response to normally harmless substances (allergens). The body can produce symptoms such as runny nose, recurrent ear fluid, nasal congestion, recurrent sinus congestion and infections, headaches, hives, asthma, stomach complaints, itchy eyes, and skin conditions in response to allergens. The key to allergy treatment is isolating the trigger responsible for your symptoms. At Lake Grove ENT, we test for specific allergens that are airborne in the areas in which we live, usually pollens, dust, molds, and animals. Since some of the pollens are more allergenic than others, the ones that are most allergenic and prevalent in this area are tested first.

Allergy testing usually involves skin tests. These are easy to administer and extremely reliable. Different allergy skin tests include:

  • Skin prick test. A drop of the suspected allergen is placed directly on the skin of the arm or back. The skin is pricked to enable the allergen to penetrate the surface. If swelling or redness occurs, a positive correlation can be made with that allergen.
  • Intradermal test. The suspected allergen is injected beneath the skin. This is a more sensitive test than the skin prick, and may be used to test for a specific allergen. It is an option when the skin prick test comes back negative, but that allergen is still the suspected trigger.
  • Skin patch test. A solution containing the allergen is applied to a pad that is fastened to the skin for a period of 1 to 3 days. It is most often used to test for contact dermatitis.

Occasionally, blood tests are given to patients who can’t tolerate skin tests. Blood tests measure the antibody levels in the bloodstream after an allergen is introduced. An increase in antibodies is usually indicative of an allergic response.

Allergy testing and treatment are a way of controlling allergy problems to help the patient feel normal again. Allergy treatment is not a cure. Treatment is aimed at improving symptoms by habituating the immune system and decreasing the need for medications. Testing provides the information needed to start therapy at a level specific to the patients’ reactivity to specific allergens.

Ask your doctor if allergy testing is right for you.