Getting allergy testing is vital for identifying triggers to allergic reactions, avoiding the triggers, reducing your risk of anaphylaxis, and improving your overall quality of life.
Types of Allergy Testing
Who should get an allergy test?
According to the American Family Physicians, you should consider an allergy test for you or your child if you have any of the following conditions:
- You suffer from more persistent upper respiratory symptoms than normal. Most people typically have two to three upper respiratory viral infections each, and children have twice as many as adults. The infections are usually 7 to 10 days and are expected to end in two weeks. However, your doctor may evaluate you or your child for allergies if your infections persist beyond the expected duration.
- Your runny nose does not resolve even when you use medication.
- There is a need to identify the trigger for contact dermatitis, eczema, urticaria, angioedema, and adverse reactions to food. Allergy testing can help your doctor determine the triggers and guide the treatment plan.
- You or your child have persistent asthma symptoms that do not resolve with medication.
- You suspected that you or your child has food, insect, or drug allergy.
How to get an allergy test
You can get an allergy test from a healthcare provider at a walk-in clinic or an urgent care center. Your primary care provider may refer you to an allergist, a doctor specializing in allergic disorders, when you do not respond well to treatment or if a more accurate diagnosis is necessary for management. You can ask your healthcare provider about allergy testing. Solv can help you get an appointment with an allergist. Contact Solv to find a nearby allergy testing center and schedule an appointment soon.
Types of allergy tests
The NLM describes four allergy tests that identify the different types of allergies you may experience. Your allergist will typically perform a blood test to obtain IgE serum levels in the primary care setting. However, if referred to an allergist, you can expect them to conduct further testing, including intradermal testing, the skin prick test, and patch testing.
According to the NLM, there are several types of skin tests including skin prick testing, intradermal testing, and patch testing. An allergist will obtain your history and determine that it is safe and appropriate to perform the skin test. Skin tests are typically done in an allergist’s office by a trained professional who understands the procedure and associated risks. These tests are less expensive than blood tests, and the results are faster, within 20 to 30 minutes. At the end of the test, the allergist will read and grade the results.
Skin prick testing
The skin prick test is the most common type of skin test. According to the NLM, during skin prick testing, small amounts of allergen, the substance suspected to cause the allergic reaction, are placed below the skin’s outer layer using a special device. The results are read after 10 to 20 minutes. If you react to the allergen, special cells in your skin called mast cells will bind to IgE and release substances that cause a wheal, swelling in the middle of a red area, or hive at the site of the skin prick. According to the NLM, a wheal larger than 3 mm is considered a positive result.
Intradermal testing is usually done to test for allergy to insect stings and penicillin. The NLM reports that during the intradermal testing, a much higher amount of the allergen is injected within or into the skin with a thin needle. The result is read as positive if a wheal larger than 5 mm is formed. Your allergist may perform an intradermal skin test if you have a negative skin prick test.
According to the NLM, there are several skin tests, including skin prick testing, intradermal testing, and patch testing. An allergist will obtain your history and determine that it is safe and appropriate to perform the skin test. Skin tests are typically done in an allergist’s office by a trained professional who understands the procedure and associated risks. These tests are less expensive than blood tests, and the results are faster, within 20 to 30 minutes. At the end of the test, the allergist will read and grade the results.
The blood test is done by collecting blood samples and sending them to the lab for analysis. The NLM reports that a blood test is helpful if you cannot stop taking antihistamines, have a skin condition that may interfere with a skin test, or cannot endure the skin prick test. Your allergist will specify antibodies for testing and run them with other similar allergens in panels. The healthcare professional will insert a needle into a vein on your arm to collect blood for the allergy test. Your medications will not interfere with the blood test results; however, this test is often more expensive than skin tests. The waiting time for results is long, and you may test positive even if you have no allergies.
What to expect during an allergy test?
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, you can expect the allergist to obtain a medical history by asking questions about the symptoms, timing, duration, and situations associated with the reaction during an allergy test. The allergist will use the information to determine the need for the test and the type of allergy test you need. The allergist will place the allergen underneath or inside your skin, place a patch on your back, or draw blood for the blood test.
Testing positive for an allergy test
If you test positive for an allergy test, the allergist will develop a plan to prevent and treat your symptoms. Prevention plans described by the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology include avoiding or limiting contact with the allergen. The allergist may instruct you to reduce clutter in your home to prevent dust if you are allergic to dust mites and avoid insects or certain types of food if you are allergic to them. The allergist may prescribe medications to treat your symptoms such as antihistamines. If you cannot avoid the allergens, your allergist may recommend allergy shots with gradual increments of the allergen to reduce your sensitivity. Lastly, your allergist may prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector if you are at risk for an anaphylactic reaction.
Find Allergy Testing near you
Allergy Testing FAQs
How long does it take to get the results of the allergy test?
The wait time for results varies based on the type of test. You can expect to get the results of the skin tests within 10 to 20 minutes, the blood test results in one to two weeks, and the patch after 48 hours, Reports the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
Are there any adverse effects from allergy tests?
Each type of allergy test has different risks associated with it, with the potential for serious reactions, notes the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Skin tests may cause allergy symptoms because allergens are introduced to the skin. However, swelling and itching of the skin are the most common symptoms. The intradermal test has a higher risk for anaphylaxis.
What is the most accurate allergy test?
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the allergy skin test is the gold standard for allergies. Your allergist will use information from the medical history and the results of the skin test to determine your allergies.
Can medications affect the allergy test?
Some medications, including antihistamines, H2 blockers, and tricyclic antidepressants can interfere with skin tests. You need to tell the allergist about all of your medications. The allergist will tell you which ones to stop and when to stop taking them.
Can my health problems affect the allergy tests?
The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology reports that test results could be complicated if you had an anaphylactic reaction within 30 days or skin conditions like eczema. The anaphylactic episode can produce false negatives with a skin prick test. Eczema and some skin disorders can produce false positive results. Tell your allergist about all your health conditions.
Does a positive test mean that I have allergies?
False positives can occur with allergy testing. Your allergist will diagnose an allergy using your medical history and the test results. Sometimes additional tests may be done to confirm an allergy. If the test results are inconclusive after skin and blood testing, the allergist may perform an allergen challenge.
Can I pay for allergy testing with my insurance?
Your insurance provider is likely to cover the allergy testing. However, you need to find out from your insurance company if you need a primary care doctor to refer you to an allergist. Your insurance carrier can provide additional details about coverage for special services, education, medications, and allergy tests.
How can I find a place to test for food allergies near me?
The best way to find an allergy testing center close to you is to use Solv, which helps you identify the most suitable providers in your area and schedule a same-day appointment.
Solv has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
- Allergy Testing (Jul 25, 2022)
- Allergy Testing: Common Questions and Answers (Jul 1, 2018)
- Testing & Diagnosis (2022)
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