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Allergies are widespread these days as the seasonal change is occurring. Coughing, sneezing, headache, and swollen faces are a common sight in this weather.
These are common symptoms of hay fever, but it is important to know that not everyone experiencing this condition is suffering from allergic rhinitis. Interestingly, one out of three affectees of rhinitis is non- allergic.
You may mistake the common symptoms of non-allergic rhinitis as allergic rhinitis. Proper examination of symptoms helps to clear the confusion. After the diagnosis of allergic disease, see an allergist for further testing.
Allergists are highly qualified trained physicians who not only diagnose immune system disorders but also help in preventing, managing, and treating allergenic reactions.
As the name implies, allergy tests help to diagnose different allergy conditions. Allergy tests give a better picture to Allergists of how the subject’s body reacts to specific allergens –such as pollen, animal dander, certain food, or medication.
The most authentic and practiced method of allergy testing is the Skin Test. Radioallergosorbent testing (RAST) –a blood test –is another way.
Skin tests date back to the last century. These are still the primary source to diagnose an allergic disease –especially those spread by air, including pollen, dust mites, and dander. Food allergies are complexed sometimes, and skin test may prove to be of little help in diagnosing these allergies.
Skin tests are safer for people of all age groups. Though there is not much risk involved, skin testing is prohibited if the patient has sensitive skin, is on antihistamine or specific blood pressure medication, or have a heart or lungs disease.
The most commonly used skin testing technique is the Skin Prick Test, also known as Puncture or Scratch test. Allergistsuse a hypoallergenic pen tomark an area of the forearm then put tiny drops of an allergen on that part.
Within a span of half-a-minute, the allergists observe if the allergen triggers any reaction. Immunologists can check allergic reactions to as many as 40 substances in one test.
In this type of test, allergist injects a small amount of an allergen in the patient’s arm with a needle. He then observes the injected area after 15 minutes for the signs of allergic reactions. Intradermal reactions help diagnose drug and environmental allergies.
Patch testing does not require needles. Instead, the allergist applies as many as 20 to 30 allergens to a patch which he places on the patient’s arm. The patch remains in contact with the skin for 48 hours. During this time, you should avoid bathing or any activity causing heavy sweating. Irritation on the skin after the removal of patches suggests that you are allergic.
These tests help detect delayed allergenic reactions.
People with severe skin conditions can opt for a blood test instead of skin allergy testing. RAST is an expensive and time taking method as compared to skin testing. This method is particularly useful in examining food allergies.
The allergists draw a sample of the patient’s blood to measure specific allergic antibodies. This test does not indicate the severity of the reaction but helps diagnose allergic reactions.
It has become easier than ever before to diagnose, manage, and treat your allergies. For primary allergy testing to treatment, contact us, and schedule an appointment with the best Immunologists at Dr. Sneeze in NYC.
Boyan Hadjiev, MD
30 East 40th Street
New York, NY 10016