Allergy Testing: How Are Allergies Diagnosed?

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Learn How Doctors Diagnose Allergies

More often than not, allergy symptoms are mistaken for a common cold. A runny nose coupled with sneezing or coughing can leave you wondering if you should reach for the Zyrtec or NyQuil.

Residents of North Carolina (and the Southeast in general) are vulnerable to a year-round allergy season! Living here can make it difficult to differentiate your symptoms and you may often wonder “do I have allergies or a cold?”. Without taking the time to diagnose your allergies, you may never know!

In this post, we are showing you the main types of allergy testing — including an elimination diet for food allergies. More importantly, you will learn when it’s time to speak to your doctor about your troubling symptoms.

When to See a Specialist for Allergies

Symptoms that won’t go away, are new or become worse, or interfere with your daily activities should be checked out as soon as possible!

With a cold, you typically experience a sore throat along with sneezing and a runny nose. Allergies, on the other hand, may result in itchy skin and eyes, headaches, sinus congestion, and wheezing. If you find yourself having frequent “colds” or are experiencing random symptoms, consider visiting a specialist that can diagnose allergies.

Your body can suddenly develop a sensitivity to an allergen, even in late adulthood. Or, you may notice existing allergies getting worse over time. Both of these conditions are a clear sign that it’s time to visit an allergist to diagnose your allergies.

Above all else, any symptoms that are negatively impacting your quality of life should be taken seriously. Severe fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and other symptoms shouldn’t leave you feeling miserable most days.

Learn More: How the Weather Impacts Your Allergies

How Specialists Diagnose Allergies

Allergy testing is used to diagnose seasonal, perennial, grass, mold, and pet allergies. Food allergies can also be detected, but these shouldn't be confused with a food sensitivity — a completely different type of reaction. See the different methods to test for allergies below:

Allergy Blood Test

Blood tests are used to diagnose allergies by looking at the amount of IgE antibodies in the blood. These antibodies are produced by the immune system and sent out in response to an overreaction to an allergen. A small amount of antibodies is normal, but a large amount will point to a possible allergy.

During the allergy test, a sample of blood will be taken from your arm. The sample will be added to a treated piece of paper to see if any antibodies are present when in contact with various allergens.

Allergy Skin Tests

Skin tests are the least invasive and least expensive method of testing for allergies. There are three different skin tests used to diagnose allergies: a skin prick test, intradermal test, and skin patch test.

1. Skin Prick Test

The skin prick test, or scratch test, involves lightly pricking the surface of the skin with a small drop of allergen. With this test, you are able to quickly see what you are allergic to and the severity.

2. Intradermal Allergy Test

An intradermal allergy test is used to diagnose allergies if the scratch test was inconclusive. Your allergist will inject the allergen in two different strengths directly under your skin and look for a reaction.

3. Skin Patch Test

The last test is used to detect allergic contact dermatitis using patches that contain allergens. After twenty minutes, your skin may be red and blistered — a sign that you do have an allergy.

Food Allergy Test and Elimination Diet

With food, some may only have a sensitivity, while others have a true food allergy. A food sensitivity is a reaction in your digestive system, whereas an allergy reaction comes from the immune system.

Food allergies can be a bit more difficult to test for, this is especially true because we tend to eat meals made up of several ingredients. Removing foods and reintroducing them to see your reaction response is known as a food elimination diet. A food allergy test is done with a blood or skin test instead.

I’ve Been Diagnosed With Allergies, What’s Next?

Now that your allergist has found the cause behind your symptoms, you can take steps toward getting relief. Treatment options that provide relief like antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal sprays can help when you’re experiencing symptoms. However, desensitizing your immune system when exposed to certain allergens is by far the better solution.

Our form of transdermal immunotherapy is one of the easiest, safest, and most natural ways of reducing allergy symptoms. Once you have been diagnosed, you will work with one of our providers who will prescribe a custom-formulated transdermal cream. Your topical formula will be delivered directly to your door, and can be applied at home after an introductory period. In the first three months, we recommend applying the cream at your doctor’s office, to check your progress and ensure there isn’t a severe reaction after application.

ShotFree Allergy Immunotherapy

Before starting treatment, we want to make sure ShotFree Allergy immunotherapy is right for you. Take our quiz by clicking the button below to see if you are a good candidate for transdermal allergy cream.

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