Allergic reactions occur when a person's immune system overreacts to a specific allergen. Some common symptoms of an allergic reaction include itchy eyes, sneezing, a runny nose, a rash, hives, stomach cramps, or vomiting. If someone is extremely allergic to something, it is possible for his or her throat to swell and close up, making it very difficult to breath. If you suffer from any allergy symptoms but don't know exactly what is causing the problem, you should see an allergist to have an allergy test done. Continue reading to learn more about the types of allergy testing commonly used to diagnose allergies:
Skin allergy tests are typically the most commonly used methods to diagnose what allergens a person reacts to. A skin prick test involves placing small amounts of allergens on the arm or back and then puncturing the skin with a small needle to introduce the allergens into a person's system. If a person is allergic to a specific allergen, the skin will react by forming a small, red bump. An allergist may also recommend a skin patch test that requires a person to wear an allergen patch for a couple of days to see how the skin reacts. Skin patch allergy tests are often used to figure out if an allergen is causing contact dermatitis or eczema.
While skin tests are usually to most common type of allergy test used, blood tests may be used if the skin allergy test is inconclusive. With a blood allergy test, a vial of blood is taken and sent to a lab. At the lab, the blood will be examined to see if there are specific antibodies present that indicate an allergic reaction. A blood allergy test may be recommended if you have had a severe allergic reaction that has caused anaphylaxis, since this type of allergy test does not introduce an allergen into your system.
Food Challenge Test
If your suspect that you may have a food allergy, your allergist may recommend a food challenge allergy test. This type of allergy test requires you to consume small amounts of food in your doctor's office over the course of a specific time frame. After you consume a small amount of food that may be an allergen, your allergist will monitor you to see if any type of allergic reaction occurs. In the event that you do experience an allergic reaction after consuming a specific type of food, your allergist will treat you with medication, usually an antihistamine.
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