What is an allergy testing examination?
Allergy testing is a critical step to rule out, diagnose, or monitor a disorder of allergic character. The doctor can diagnose whether symptoms such as difficulty breathing, itching in some areas of the body, itchy eyes, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, and eczema are of allergic nature.
What is the purpose of an allergy testing examination?
The goal of the visit is to diagnose the type of allergy a patient suffers from and start the appropriate therapy. This type of examination can also be used to monitor the possible development of a previously diagnosed allergy.
How is an allergy testing examination carried out?
The patient is welcomed by the specialist who gathers information about the history and lifestyle of the patient such as nutrition, smoking habits, alcohol consumption, physical activity levels, type of work done, medication intake, and other cases in the family of allergies and will view any tests previously carried out by the patient.
During the visit there are different types of tests that can be done to help with the diagnosis such as a prick test where the skin is pierced by a needle to allow penetration of the allergen and if 20 minutes later a red swollen mark appears around the injection site, it means the patient is sensitive to the allergen. Another test is the provocation test, where the doctor applies the allergen directly in the eye, nasal and bronchial entrance and evaluates the body's response to the allergen itself. Further tests include a patch test, where skin patches containing allergenic extracts are placed on the skin, and rast test or tests of radio-allergo-absorption where the doctor searches in the blood for specific antibodies such as IgE or immunoglobulin E.
In case of an obstructive airway disease, a patient may also be subjected to a spirometry.
Are there any guidelines for preparation?
The patient is asked to brings any tests carried out previously on the matter, any recent blood tests, even if performed for other reasons and a list of current medication intake. At least five days prior to the visit it is advisable to avoid taking antihistamines and, if the reason for the visit is a form of dermatitis, it is be best to avoid the use of steroids at least two weeks prior to the visit.