The only way to be considered for desensitization treatment of your allergy symptoms is to determine exactly what is causing them. This is done through a series of allergy tests.
Skin Prick Testing
A skin prick test is the most common and safe form of allergy testing. This test involves placing a small amount of an allergen extract just below the surface of your skin using a small scratch. After 15 minutes, any resulting swelling is measured and, depending on the size, may be considered a positive reaction.
An intradermal skin test is then completed on the arms if some or all of the skin prick test did not produce a reaction. A small bleb, usually of a slightly higher concentration, is injected directly under the top layer of skin. After 15 minutes any reactions are measured and classified as either positive or negative.
A blood test is used to measure how much of an allergen-specific antibody, called immunoglobulin E (IgE), is in your blood. The more allergen specific IgE in your blood, the more likely you are to be allergic to that allergen. Blood tests are typically used for young children who may not tolerate a longer skin test. They may also be used in lieu of skin tests if a serious allergy makes skin testing unsafe. Generally, a skin test is more accurate, as we can observe the reaction happening directly within the context of your body, rather than in a test tube of sample blood manipulated outside your body.
Food allergies may be tested with a simple blood draw, but this has some inherent limitations and positive responses may not necessarily always indicate symptomatic allergy. An elimination diet can be more sensitive and involves removing the food in question from your diet for four weeks. If your symptoms resolve, there is a good chance the food can be related to the symptom/reaction. In some cases, we may recommend that you return the problematic food to your diet, just to confirm the relationship if the symptoms return when the food is eaten.
Have questions or interested in allergy testing? Call DeFatta ENT & Allergy at (715) 828-2368 for more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our ENT Allergists.