Vital Signs That You Need Allergy Testing
Allergic conditions are among the leading health issues in the United States. It is estimated that about 50 million Americans experience different types of allergies every year. If you suspect that you have an allergy, you need testing by a trained allergy specialist. The exam can take the form of a skin test, blood test, or an elimination diet.
What is an Allergy?
You experience an allergic reaction when your body's immune system reacts to an allergen. In such a case, the antibodies identify the allergen as harmful, even when it's not.
Allergens take three forms:
- Contact Allergens: These allergens cause an allergic reaction when they come into contact with the skin.
- Inhaled Allergens: Once inhaled, these allergens irritate the lungs or membranes of the throat or lungs.
- Ingested Allergens: They are present in certain foods, such as seafood, peanuts, and soy.
What is Allergy Testing?
An allergy test is performed to determine if your body has an allergic reaction to a specific substance. The two principal types of allergy tests include:
- Skin Test: During this test, your skin is exposed to a certain substance and then observed for signs of an allergic reaction. This test is widely used to diagnose different allergic conditions, including:
- Allergic asthma
- Bee venom allergy
- Hay fever
- Penicillin allergy
- Food allergies
- Blood Test: This test helps the doctor to identify substances that trigger allergy symptoms. It measures the amount of allergen-specific antibodies produced by the body during an earlier exposure. Doctors use this test to screen for the most common allergy triggers, such as weeds, dust, molds, pet dander, and grasses, among others.
Do You Need Allergy Testing?
You experience symptoms of an allergic reaction a few minutes after exposure. Most allergic reactions are mild, and the symptoms often disappear after a short while. These symptoms include:
- Allergic rhinitis: It is characterized by sneezing, runny nose, or blocked nose.
- Conjunctivitis: It takes the form of itchy, red, and watery eyes.
- Hives: It takes the form of a raised, itchy, red rash
- Wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.
- Swollen tongue, lips, face, or eyes
- Feeling sick, stomach upsets, or vomiting
- Dry and cracked skin
These signs vary depending on the type of allergen and severity of the exposure. On some occasions, you may develop a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis. In such a case, you may experience certain signs, including:
- Losing consciousness
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of mouth and throat
If you have symptoms that you suspect are caused by an allergy, you should schedule allergy testing. Once you confirm that your body reacts to a specific substance, then you can seek the right treatment.