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A Comprehensive Guide to Allergy Testing

A Comprehensive Guide to Allergy Testing

About 100 million — that’s how many people in the United States experience allergies each year. Most — about 81 million — have seasonal allergies, which lead to sneezing, wheezing, and watery eyes. But allergies can also lead to rashes, hives, and more.

If you’ve developed symptoms you believe may be related to allergies, your next step is to come see us for comprehensive allergy testing. Here at Advanced ENT & Allergy Dr. Timothy Queen and his team are experts when it comes to allergies, especially when it comes to identification and treatment.

If you want to know what allergy testing entails, read on to learn more.

Step 1 — Review your symptoms

Before we get to allergy testing, we first spend some time reviewing your symptoms so that we can narrow down the potential allergens.

Not only do we discuss your symptoms, but we also spend some time reviewing the circumstances surrounding your symptoms. For example, if your symptoms tend to develop during certain seasons, such as the spring and/or fall, there’s a good chance you might have seasonal rhinitis. 

Or, you may develop symptoms anytime you eat certain foods, such as dairy products, which likely indicates a food allergy. 

Or, maybe your eyes itch whenever you visit your friend’s house — and your friend has several cats and/or dogs — a strong sign of a pet (dander) allergy.

As you can see, the circumstances in which you develop symptoms are very important in helping us to target our testing. So, be sure to note not only your symptoms but your environment, as well.

Step 2 — Get tested

Once we narrow down the suspects behind your symptoms, it’s time to test to confirm our suspicions. There are several ways in which we do this, including:

Blood testing

We draw a sample of your blood to look for markers, namely immunoglobulin E antibodies. The presence of these antibodies tells us that your body is responding to an allergen, but it doesn’t necessarily help us to figure out the type of allergen.

Skin testing

With this testing, we introduce the suspected allergen(s) into your skin, just below the surface, to elicit a response. If your skin reacts, which can happen nearly immediately or many hours later, it’s a good bet that you have an allergy to the substance.

Patch testing

On rare occasions, we can try patch testing, a technique in which we place an adhesive on your skin that contains potential allergens. After a few days with the patch, you return to our office, and we take a look to see if and how your body responded.

While there are several ways in which we can test for allergies, we make sure to choose one that will not only provide us with the best answers but one with which you’re comfortable.

For more information about allergy testing, or if you’d like to go ahead and start the process, please contact our office in Newport News, Virginia, to schedule an appointment.

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