Have you noticed that many a times when you step out into the sun or just put some kind of fabric, inhale a bit of dust or eat something, you suddenly start sneezing, develop red rashes across your body or at some parts, and experience watery eyes? If you are unaware of what is happening to you, it’s nothing but you are having a bout of Allergy. Well, to avoid this sudden painful reaction again and again, you need to get tested for allergies.
Also Read: Persistent Sneezing? How To Identify & Eliminate The Triggers
What Is An Allergy Test?
An allergy test is a type of diagnostic test that helps to reveal whether your body has an adverse reaction to a substance known as Allergen. It also detects and measures the number of allergen-specific antibodies that are present in the blood. It chiefly makes use for either blood tests, skin tests or an elimination diet to determine the type of allergen one is allergic to. The Allergy test is often termed medically as IgE allergy test, Quantitative IgE, or Immunoglobulin E. Apart from this, one type of test called a total IgE test measures the overall number of IgE antibodies in the blood, whereas another type of allergy blood test called a specific IgE test measures the level of IgE antibodies in response to individual allergens.
Allergy Test may also be referred to as Immunoassay test and include two more tests known as Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA, or EIA) and Radioallergosorbent test (RAST). The ELISA test chiefly measures the amount of allergen-specific antibodies in the blood and the RAST test detects specific allergen-related antibodies in order to identify your allergy triggers.
Before having detailed knowledge about the Allergy test, let us have a quick review of what are allergies and allergens.
What Are Allergies?
Allergies are a common and painful condition that occurs when your body’s immune system acts adversely to certain foreign substances that it perceives as a threat. And in order to fight this perceived threat and shield the body, the immune system makes certain chemicals and antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE) in the body that gives rise to the symptoms.
Also Read: Skin Allergies: What You Need to Know
What Are Allergens?
Allergens are substances that trigger an allergic reaction in the body by releasing chemicals and antibodies. Common symptoms due to these allergens can range from sneezing and a stuffy nose to a life-threatening complication called anaphylactic shock.
What Are The Common Types Of Allergen?
There are three primary types of allergens. These include:
Contact Allergens: These allergens or substances usually produce a reaction after coming in contact with your skin. It often leads to contact dermatitis and involves substances like poison ivy, latex, personal care products like cosmetics, nickel and other metals, certain fabrics, detergents etc.
Inhaled Allergens: A type of substance that usually affects the body on being inhaled or coming in contact with the membranes of the nostrils or throat and the lungs. They often lead to hay fever, asthma, and conjunctivitis and involve substances like pollen, mold spores, animal proteins, insect parts or dust mites.
Ingested allergens: These are substances that trigger symptoms of being ingested or coming in contact with the membranes of the food pipe, stomach, intestines etc. They often lead to swelling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or difficulty in breathing and involves allergens like peanuts, soy, and seafood and even medications like antibiotics and anti-inflammatory agents.
Why Does A Person Require To Be Tested For Allergies?
The doctor or heath care provider usually suggests a person to go for an allergy testing if he or she notices the below-mentioned symptoms suddenly appearing in your body:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Hives (a rash with raised red patches)
- Shortness of breath
What Conditions Does An Allergy Test Help Diagnose?
Allergy skin tests chiefly help a doctor to diagnose the following conditions and helps the doctor to develop a treatment plan or a diet that includes allergen avoidance, medications or allergy shots (immunotherapy). These include:
- Dermatitis (eczema)
- Food allergies
- Hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
- Allergic asthma
- Penicillin allergy
- Bee venom allergy
Allergy tests involve exposing you to a very small amount of a particular allergen and recording the reaction.
What Are The Various Types Of Allergy Test?
There are 3 main types of allergy tests. These include:
A skin allergy test helps in detecting numerous allergens, sometimes even 50 at once. There are three types of skin tests including scratch, intradermal, and patch tests and they include testing of airborne, food-related, and contact allergens.
If the individual has highly sensitive skin or reacts intensely to needle pricks or scratches or might have had an extreme reaction during skin testing in the past, the doctor then chiefly recommends a blood test, also known as ImmunoCAP test to detect IgE antibodies that react to major allergens.
An elimination diet chiefly helps the doctor detect the particular foods or substances that cause an allergic reaction. It primarily involves removal of the specific food item from your diet for the time being (elimination phase) and then adding them back later (reintroduction phase).
In the skin and blood test, if the results show that your total IgE levels are higher than normal, it likely means you have some kind of allergy and a specific IgE test mainly helps identify the particular allergen one is allergic to. A positive skin or blood test mainly interprets that you are allergic to the particular allergen whereas a negative one means that you aren’t allergic to it. It is highly necessary to get the test results interpreted by a doctor to avoid severe anaphylactic shocks or prevent severe health conditions.