Q: What is allergy testing?
A: If you are allergic, you are reacting to a particular substance. Any substance that can trigger an allergic reaction is called an allergen. To determine which specific substances are triggering your allergies, your allergist/immunologist will safely and effectively test your skin, or sometimes your blood, using tiny amounts of commonly troublesome allergens. Allergy tests are designed to gather the most specific information possible so your doctor can determine what you are allergic to and provide the best treatment.
Q: Who should be tested for allergies?
A: Adults and children of any age who have symptoms that suggest they have an allergic disease. Allergy symptoms can include:
- Respiratory symptoms: itchy eyes, nose, or throat; nasal congestion, runny nose, watery eyes, chest congestion or wheezing
- Skin symptoms: hives, generalized itchiness or atopic dermatitis
- Other symptoms: anaphylaxis (severe life-threatening allergic reactions), abdominal symptoms (cramping, diarrhea) consistently following particular foods, stinging insect reactions other than large local swelling at the sting site
Q: What are the reasons for undergoing allergy skin testing?
A: To help you manage your allergy symptoms most effectively, your allergist/immunologist must first determine what is causing your allergy. For instance, you don't have to get rid of your cat if you are allergic to dust mites but not cats.
Q: Do I need to do anything before my first visit?
A: On your first visit for allergy concerns you will be asked to refrain from using antihistamine mediations for 3 days prior to your visit. This allows you to be tested for allergic “trigger” antigens during your initial visit. Antihistamine medications may interfere with your test. This may cause you to be rescheduled for your allergy testing.