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Allergy Testing

The In’s and Out’s of Allergy Testing

According to the AAFA, more than 50 million Americans experience various types of allergies each year. Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. Allergies are extremely common and can be broken down into the following categories: 

-Food Allergies
-Indoor & Outdoor Allergies
-Skin Allergies
-Medication Allergies
-Insect Allergies. 

While a very large portion of the U.S. population suffer from allergies, symptoms can typically be managed with an over the counter solution or from aversion to certain foods and environments. Unfortunately, for others symptoms do not ease with medication and interfere with their overall quality of life. 

At Camellia ENT, we are typically faced with both children and adults who suffer from chronic illness due to indoor and outdoor environmental allergies. If you suffer from sinus complications or have symptoms such as cough, runny nose, itchy watery eyes, etc. for longer than two weeks at a time that continue to return or simply symptoms that interfere with your quality of life, it may be time to take action. Your starting place will be a referral to a local Ear Nose and Throat Doctor for allergy testing. 

Oftentimes you may find yourself with ear, nose, or throat complications that directly result from an unknown allergen. Allergy testing is a common procedure that helps your ENT narrow down treatment options and ensure the best results. For example, if you have chronic sinus infections and ultimately end up having sinus surgery, yet have not discovered that an allergy to dust is the source of your inflammation that leads to the sinus infections, then the surgery itself could be a complete waste without the proper treatment for the allergy in addition to the surgery. (Note that ENT’s turn to sinus surgery as a last resort, I am simply using this as an example). 

What is Allergy Testing?

Allergy testing is a procedure performed by a trained specialist to determine what unknown substances your body has a reaction to. There are multiple options for allergy testing, with a simple skin test being the most common method. A skin test involves exposing you to a very small amount of particular allergens in a concentrated liquid form and recording the reaction. The test typically includes the most common allergens such as dust, mold, pollen, animal dander and certain foods. 

How Does It Work?

Our bodies are incredible creations! Our immune systems are designed to create antibodies that set off chemicals to fight off anything it deems unusual or dangerous as it enters the body. During an allergy test, the skin is pricked with a small amount of the allergen and then observed for any irritation rash, etc. that is triggered due to our immune system doing its job. That reaction tells the doctor what you are allergic to and to what degree. 

You can expect an allergy testing process to take about an hour, and ask your ENT for any specific instructions. For example, they will likely recommend you wear loose, comfortable clothing, keep a food journal for a few days prior to the test, inform the doctor of any medications, and avoid any antihistamines a few days before your testing day.

Is Allergy Testing Safe?

Your ENT will help you determine if you are a good candidate for allergy testing or not. If you have ever had a severe life threatening allergic reaction, or are on medications that could interfere with results, or even certain skin conditions or immune disorders, you may not be a good candidate for allergy testing and assessment must be done another way. If you are in good health, not on conflicting medications, with no known severe life threatening allergic reactions in the past, allergy testing is a safe method to determine proper treatment for your ear nose and throat complications that derive from allergies. The trained professional performing the test keeps emergency supplies on hand for any reaction beyond a surface irritation. If you experience any pain, discomfort, full body reaction, difficulty breathing or any other abnormal reaction at any point throughout the test, let them know immediately so proper actions can be taken.

Although allergy testing is slightly irritating it is a generally safe and effective resource for pinpointing what is triggering your allergies and complications that arise due to those allergies. Knowing is the first step towards an effective treatment plan. If you have any concerns about allergies, do not hesitate to reach out to Camelia ENT for a consultation.

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