Allergies are a very common issue for people of all ages, affecting millions of Americans each year. Many people have food allergies, and seasonal allergies such as hay fever are also a fact of life for millions. Allergies vary in severity and can cause symptoms that range from a runny nose and burning eyes to anaphylaxis that can be potentially life-threatening. Allergy testing can be done as a blood test, a skin test, or a diet which eliminates potential allergens.
Prior to allergy testing, you’ll have a discussion with your doctor about lifestyle factors, family history, and any allergy symptoms you may have noticed. You will typically be asked to temporarily stop taking medications that may impact your test results.
If you have allergy symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, backed-up sinuses, or itchy or burning eyes, an allergy test can help identify the root cause. Depending on your allergies, our doctors may be able to prescribe medication that will alleviate your symptoms. Knowing what causes your symptoms can also allow you to avoid allergens. Because allergic reactions can potentially be life-threatening, it’s extremely important to be aware of your body’s unique sensitivities. While there are over-the-counter home allergy tests, it’s far preferable to get tested by a qualified physician, as false positives are far more likely to occur in home tests.
The three main types of allergy tests are skin tests, blood tests, and elimination diets.
A skin test involves inserting a specific allergen just beneath the uppermost layer of the skin to observe any reactions such as redness, swelling, or itchiness. This test is not painful and can indicate allergies to dozens of different substances.
A blood test is usually performed if there is significant likelihood of a severe allergic reaction to a skin test. Blood is drawn and tested to find the number of allergen-fighting antibodies that are present.
If you have been having allergy symptoms and don’t know the source, your doctor may recommend an elimination diet, consciously removing specific foods from your diet and then later reintroducing them to judge the source of your allergic reactions.
After identifying the root causes of your allergic reactions, our doctors will work with you to develop a treatment plan or possibly prescribe medication. If an elimination diet is recommended, you will have a follow-up appointment to discuss the results.
An allergy test is generally covered by health insurance, depending on the type of test and the allergens being tested. Contact your insurance company to learn whether you’re covered.
There is a small chance that an allergy test could cause a sudden and severe allergic reaction requiring medical assistance. If an allergic reaction happens in our office, we will be prepared to handle it. We are able to treat anaphylactic reactions, which can be fatal, with epinephrine. If symptoms of anaphylaxis (throat swelling, difficulty breathing) occur after you have left our office, you should call 911 immediately.
Medical Offices of Manhattan also offers screenings for a variety of other health issues, including anemia, cancers, diabetes, and STDs.