If you have an allergy, your immune system overreacts to a substance you’ve come in contact with, such as an environmental allergen (trees, pollens, molds), a chemical, a medication taken, or food eaten or touched.Your immune system controls how your body defends itself. For instance, if you have an allergy to pollen, your immune system identifies pollen as an invader, or “allergen”. Your immune system overreacts by producing antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies travel to cells that release chemicals, such as histamine, causing an allergic reaction. These reactions can range from hives, sneezing and sniffling, and stomach discomfort, to even a life-threatening response called anaphylaxis. So how can you be sure which allergens are responsible for your symptoms? Your doctor may recommend allergy tests, and combined with a physical examination and medical history, they can give you precise information about what you are, as well as what you are not, allergic to. Ruling out certain allergens can sometimes be just as relevant as identifying reactive allergens. For instance, if somebody in your family has allergy symptoms and you suspect it might be a reaction to the family pet, allergy testing may be able to rule out pet dander, and identify a different allergen, such as dust mites, instead.Many people with untreated allergy symptoms aren’t aware of how much better they will feel once their symptoms are properly diagnosed and managed by their doctor.
Who should be allergy tested?
Different allergens bother different people, so your allergist will determine which test is the best for you. Regardless of the type of test, an allergist will first perform a physical examination and ask questions about your symptoms to determine if allergy testing is warranted. Testing done by an allergist is generally safe and effective for adults and children of all ages. The allergen extracts or vaccines used in allergy tests performed by allergists meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements.
Symptoms which usually prompt an allergist to perform testing include:
It is important that allergy testing is directed by a healthcare professional with sufficient allergy/immunology training and prompted by your medical history.
Why get tested?
What is Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy is a preventive treatment for allergic reactions to substances such as grass pollens, house dust mites and bee venom. Immunotherapy involves giving gradually increasing doses of the substance, or allergen, to which the person is allergic. The incremental increases of the allergen cause the immune system to become less sensitive to the substance, probably by causing production of a “blocking” antibody, which reduces the symptoms of allergy when the substances is encountered in the future. Immunotherapy also reduces the inflammation that characterizes rhinitis and asthma.
Read more about Allergy Immunotherapy Here.
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