While the irritating symptoms themselves are hard to mistake, sometimes it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact source of an allergy. Those itchy outbreaks, stuffy nose and watery eyes could be due to the pollen outside, a fabric softener, mold in the basement or any one of a number of factors. Discovering the source of your allergies can be a headache in and of itself. Fortunately, it’s possible to get to the root of the problem by scheduling a simple allergy test with a physician. Once you’ve discovered the source, you can begin taking steps to mitigate your suffering.
Allergy tests can be administered either by taking a blood sample or performing a “skin prick” test.
Allergy blood tests use a small sample of blood and submit it to a laboratory analysis, the most common called Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, to detect the presence of antibodies specific to certain allergens. The test determines both the existence of any allergies and their cause. Blood tests are typically performed when a skin prick test isn’t feasible due to the patient taking certain medications, having specific medical conditions, being at risk for a significant allergy attack or simply preferring one needle to multiple pricks. The blood test may, however, be less sensitive than the skin prick test and results can sometimes take weeks to receive.
The skin prick method of allergy testing is preferred in most circumstances. It is highly accurate and the results of the test are known within minutes or days. It works by introducing a small amount of an allergen under the skin, either by injection with a needle or by breaking the surface and introducing it to the wound, and monitoring the area to see if a rash or irritation occurs. Typically multiple allergens are introduced at one time and marked off in a grid. Although the amounts of allergens being introduced under the skin are small, there is still a risk of a serious allergic reaction while the test is being performed. An allergy skin test should always be performed by a medical professional with the necessary equipment on hand to deal with any complications that may arise.by