Testing & Diagnosis
To understand your specific allergy problem and determine the treatment, your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and daily routines. You’ll also need to take some tests to reach accurate diagnosis.
Diagnosing allergies starts with a doctor’s exam. This was traditionally offered by an allergy specialist, but can be preformed in your physician’s office.
Skin Tests with
This test doesn’t use needles; it uses a special plastic applicator that applies extracts to your forearms or back of the things people are commonly allergic to — pollens, danders, molds, as well as other indoor and outdoor triggers.
This test is done using a multi test applicator which enables the administer to apply eight different allergens to an area at one time. The test is preformed within a few seconds with minimal discomfort and there is little to no pain.
The latest methods of allergy skin tests involve using disposable plastic devices that feel like a brush, which are applied on the upper back or on the forearms. They use various testing liquids (allergens) on the tips to check for individual allergies to indoor and outdoor, allergens. The list can include grass pollen, tree pollen, ragweed, weeds, dust mites, dog cat dander, mold, and many more. Once the test is applied, you wait for 15 to 20 minutes without touching or scratching. The test results are interpreted based on the size, swelling, and redness around each dot. In the presence of the true allergies, these dots get red and look like mosquito bites.
Click here to see a test in action!
Traditional testing is done by administering a battery of blood test. This involves getting blood drawn and waiting for the results. Allergy blood tests detect and measure the amount of allergen-specific antibodies in your blood. When an allergic individual comes into contact with an allergy trigger, known as an allergen, his/her body makes antibodies against it causing allergic symptoms.
Disadvantages of allergy blood tests include:
Usually more expensive than skin testing.
Some health insurers do not cover allergy and blood tests.
Higher chance for false negative and false positive results.
Usually takes days or weeks to get results because the blood sample must be sent to a laboratory for evaluation. (While skin testing provides immediate results in 15 to 20 minutes)
Allergen immunotherapy is a medical treatment aiming at the underlying root of patients suffering from allergies. Allergen immunotherapy desensitizes the overactive immune system. The treatment is done by administering increasing doses of allergens to the body so it becomes accustomed to them and thereby inducing specific, long-term tolerance. These might include pollen, house dust mites, pet danders, molds and most of your allergic triggers.
Allergen immunotherapy can be administered in two ways:
Under the tongue (sublingually with drops)
By injections under the skin (subcutaneous)
Sublingual immunotherapy has been used throughout the world for over 60 years. Besides its demonstrated efficacy, sublingual immunotherapy is known to have a better safety profile than subcutaneous immunotherapy. Among many benefits of the sublingual route the main one is that the patient can usually take the treatment at home. Patients will need to visit their Doctor’s office every 12 weeks for a refill and a quick follow up. Even though the sublingual route of administering allergens is not approved by the FDA in the U.S., the allergens used are FDA approved. This is the main method of using allergen immunotherapy in Europe.
Allergy shots have been the standard practice in the U.S. for over 100 years and typically have good results. This type of treatment is administered by a Healthcare provider in their office. At first, the patient will need to go to their doctor’s office once or twice a week for 6 to 9 months. The dose will go up gradually until you get to a maintenance dose. Once you reach this stage, you’ll usually get a shot every 2-4 weeks for 3 to 5 years.
Allergy shots are generally well tolerated, but require medical supervision for 20 to 30 minutes after injections due to the potential of an allergic reaction. Reactions are very uncommon and serious reactions are very rare.