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Allergy Testing: What It Is, Indications and Types

Allergy Testing: What It Is, Indications and Types

Allergy testing is a diagnostic method used to identify particular substances known as allergens that cause an immune system reaction in people. These responses might vary from minor discomfort to severe and sometimes fatal reactions. Consult Dr. Smriti Choudhary, MD, and Dr. Niraj Choudhary, MD, for a thorough evaluation and appropriate tests based on the specific circumstances that will help in advising optimal management strategies. For more information, please contact us or schedule an appointment online. We have convenient locations to serve you in Webster and Pasadena, TX.

Allergy Testing: What It Is, Indications and Types | Primary Care Center of Clear Lake
Allergy Testing: What It Is, Indications and Types | Primary Care Center of Clear Lake

Table of Contents:

Why do healthcare providers perform allergy tests?
How do I know if I need an allergy test?
What does an allergy test do?
What are the types of allergy tests?

Suffering from allergy symptoms can quickly start to interfere with quality of life, even in cases of mild symptoms. It can sometimes be difficult to determine the exact cause of the allergy symptoms just based on when reactions occur, making allergy testing necessary for many patients.

Why do healthcare providers perform allergy tests?


Allergy tests are performed by healthcare providers to help determine the cause of symptoms that are being experienced by the patient. The tests are done to determine the specific allergen or multiple allergens to ensure that exposure to the allergen can be minimized wherever possible or so that effective treatment options can be tested, including antihistamines, an inhaler in the case of allergy-induced asthma, or allergy shots.

There are some cases where the allergy symptoms can be quite severe, making allergy testing incredibly important to ensure that serious allergic reactions can be avoided. In cases of anaphylaxis, identifying the allergen is essential to ensuring the patient’s day-to-day safety. As well, even minor allergic reactions can quickly start to interfere with daily functioning and quality of life.

How do I know if I need an allergy test?


Allergy tests will be recommended for patients who are experiencing allergy symptoms but are not sure what allergen they are reacting to. They may also be used to help rule out various health conditions if the patient is experiencing symptoms that do not have a clear cause but could have multiple potential causes. Common allergy symptoms that indicate an allergy test should be recommended include allergic rhinitis (congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing), hives, or asthma symptoms. Many food allergies can cause a variety of symptoms that can be tricky to identify without undergoing the proper allergy testing process. Food allergy symptoms can include skin symptoms such as generalized itching, swelling, or hives; respiratory symptoms such as coughing, tightness of the throat or chest, or wheezing; GI symptoms including diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain; or even cardiovascular symptoms including dizziness, weak pulse, and pale skin. Patients are more likely to be recommended for allergy tests if their allergy symptoms are not very easily controlled through over-the-counter medicine or if the medicine has to be taken daily. Those with severe allergy reactions may also need a test completed to receive prescriptions for an epi-pen, more effective medications, or allergy shots.

What does an allergy test do?


An allergy test will typically test for a variety of allergens at the same time to gauge what the patient has reactions to as well as the degree of the reactions. They are used to accurately identify allergens by exposing the patient to all potential allergens in a safe and controlled manner so that the patient can determine which allergens they can avoid or if further allergy treatment is required. Allergy tests can be used to identify the majority of allergens, whether they cause reactions due to contact with the skin, inhalation, or consumption. There are a few different allergy tests available, with the most common ones including just exposing the patient to a very small concentration of each allergen to cause very minor reactions in cases where there is an allergy, and some tests, such as with many food allergies, requiring the patient to avoid only one potential allergen at a time to determine if the symptoms are alleviated.

The goal of allergy tests is to determine the allergens or the best treatment to alleviate symptoms to lessen or completely avoid reactions from occurring.

What are the types of allergy tests?


The most common type of allergy test is a skin prick test, which involves placing small drops of various allergens on the surface of the skin and then pricking the skin below the drops to allow for the allergen to enter the skin, causing a small rash or red bumps at the site of the prick if a reaction occurs. This type of test is most effective for airborne allergies, some food allergies, and allergies to penicillin.

Other types of allergy tests include intradermal skin tests, where the allergen is injected just below the surface of the skin, patch tests, where drops of the allergen are placed on the surface of the skin and then covered with a bandage for 24 to 48 hours to check for skin allergies, and blood tests. Another, less commonly used type of allergy test is a challenge test that is completed under medical supervision and involves the patient swallowing a small amount of the allergen to be assessed for a reaction.

For thorough allergy testing and evaluation, visit Primary Care Center. Our knowledgeable, kind, and experienced staff is here to assist you. For more information, please contact us or schedule an appointment online. We have convenient locations to serve you in Webster and Pasadena, TX. We serve patients from Webster TX, Pasadena TX, South Houston TX, Brookwood TX, Seabrook TX, Bacliff TX, and surrounding areas.

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Locations of Primary Care Center of Clear Lake

Webster, TX

  • 360 E Medical Center Blvd Suite A Webster, TX 77598
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Pasadena, TX

  • 5150 Crenshaw Rd, Suite A 150, Pasadena, TX 77505
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