Why You Should Get Allergy Tested By a Doctor
Mild allergies such as hay fever or the occasional breakout may not need treatment. But if your allergies are severe enough to compromise your quality of life, get tested by a doctor. Why you should get allergy tested by a doctor, you ask? If your condition is life-altering, they can help you manage it by diagnosing it and recommending appropriate treatments.
What are Allergies?
The human body can protect itself from invaders such as bacteria, but that defense is a double-edged sword. Sometimes, it can get defensive against harmless substances such as mold and dust. When that happens, our immune system initiates several chemical attacks to destroy those 'enemies.' This leads to extreme and sometimes life-threatening symptoms (such as asphyxiation).
What You Can Expect From Your First Appointment
If you have never had a severe allergic reaction before but think you may be prone to one and are unsure what your symptoms are, get yourself tested. A provider will:
Take your medical history – This includes details about your overall health, symptoms, and medications you have tried before.
Ask you to detail your symptoms – Tell the doctor when your symptoms flare up, how often, and what you think triggers them. You will also be asked about your work and eating habits for clues that can help them pinpoint your allergies.
Once these and a physical test are complete, the provider might conduct an allergy test. Here are some of the tests they can use to come to a diagnosis:
This is the most common way providers test for allergies in their patients. Skin tests are the fastest and the most reliable ones you can get. The provider will place a tiny drop of an allergen (such as pet dander, pollen, food, and fur) on your back or the inside of your arm. Then, they will make a small scratch (you just feel pressure) on the surface of your skin to allow the allergen to penetrate.
Don't worry. The scratch will be shallow, so it won't bleed. Fifty most common environmental allergens will be tested on your skin till one gets a reaction. If the scratched area swells up and reddens, you are allergic to the applied substance. The reaction can take 15 minutes to manifest.
Once the test is over, the doctor will clean your skin and apply a soothing cream to stop the itching. Any lingering discomfort will dissipate in the next half hour or a few hours.
Important note: Some medications can compromise the test results so ask your doctor if you need to stop taking any before the test is conducted.
If you take medication before your allergy tests or have highly sensitive skin, the doctor may do a blood test rather than a skin test. A sample will be sent to a lab, and the results will arrive in a couple of days. While it is a bit more expensive than a skin test, a blood test is recommended for anyone who suffers from painful flare-ups or skin reactions. The former may prove dangerous.
Elimination diet test
If your doctor believes that you may be allergic to certain types of food, he may ask you to stop eating them for a while so they can be sure. This is called an elimination diet test. If you show no allergy symptoms two to three weeks after you stop eating that food, the doctor will ask you to start eating them again. You are allergic to those food items if you experience symptoms after you begin to eat those certain foods again.
Oral Food Challenge
An oral food challenge should only be done in a controlled medical environment by a trained allergist. You will be given small amounts of food that you may be allergic to and will have to wait for symptoms to manifest. If you fail to show any, the doses will be increased slowly. The test will stop when you show symptoms. Don’t try this at home! If you have a serious reaction, you may not be in a condition to call paramedics. If you live alone, they may arrive too late to save you.
Why You Should Not Self-Test
You can find allergy tests and kits in your local drug store, but that doesn't mean you should use them. Most of these are misleading. Some may also give you a false positive. This means it may indicate an allergy, even if you don't have it.
Unreliable test results can lead to unnecessary and inconvenient lifestyle changes. For example, if a home test indicates you are allergic to soy, wheat, or milk and stop consuming these, your body will be deprived of essential nutrients leading to other health concerns down the line. With time, your immune system will weaken to the point that it cannot protect you against diseases.
Similarly, if the test says you are allergic to animals, you may give up a beloved pet. Tests for chronic hives that last for weeks may indicate an abnormal condition that isn't a threat. These unreliable results can lead to depression, anxiety, and more tests.
Your allergies don’t have to take over your life. You first need to take control of them to determine the substances you are allergic to. Contact Inspire and book a consultation with an allergist today. The doctor will conduct a complete physical and consultation before recommending non-invasive and safe tests per your condition and overall health.