Allergies can cause a wide range of symptoms, from a stuffy nose and watery eyes to more serious reactions such as anaphylaxis. For some people, allergies can be a minor nuisance, but for others, they can majorly impact their quality of life.
If you think you may have an allergy, it is important to see your GP for a diagnosis. Having an allergy test can help to identify the substances that you are allergic to, and this information can be used to develop a treatment plan. In some cases, avoidance is the best form of treatment, but if this is not possible or practical, other options, such as medication or immunotherapy, may be recommended.
How do Doctors Test Children for Allergies?
Allergy testing is a way of finding out if your child is allergic to something. It’s usually only recommended if your child has severe symptoms or if they’re not responding to treatment.
Allergy testing isn’t risk-free, and the results aren’t always accurate. If you’re considering allergy testing for your child, it’s important to talk to your GP first.
They can discuss the pros and cons with you and help you make a decision. As for how the test is conducted, there are two main types of allergy tests: skin prick tests and blood tests.
● Skin Prick Tests
During a skin prick test, a small amount of the substance your child may be allergic to is placed on their skin. Their skin is then pricked with a needle so that the substance can enter.
If your child is allergic to the substance, they will have a raised, itchy bump (wheal) on their skin within 15-20 minutes. The size of the wheal can give an indication of how severe their allergy is.
Skin prick tests are not always accurate, but they’re the most commonly used type of allergy test. Most parents prefer them because they’re not only quick, but also easy, and relatively inexpensive.
● Blood Tests
Blood tests are not as commonly used as skin prick tests, but they may be recommended if skin prick testing isn’t possible or the results are inconclusive.
During a blood test, a sample of your child’s blood is taken and sent to a laboratory for analysis. The results usually take a few weeks to come back.
Blood tests are more expensive than skin prick tests, and they’re not always accurate, but they may be recommended if your child has eczema or if they’re taking medication that can affect the results of a skin prick test.
How are Adults Tested for Allergies?
For most people, allergy testing is a simple and quick process that can be done in your doctor’s office or even at home provided you have the right kit. Again, the two main types of allergy tests you might have are skin prick tests and blood tests.
The process is similar to how it’s carried out in children, but the results may be more reliable in adults. The other possible tests your allergist may recommend include; an intradermal skin test, allergy p patch test, blood tests, food challenge tests, and insect sting test. We explain what’s involved in each of them below;
- Intradermal skin test: This test is similar to a skin prick test, but the allergen is injected into the skin with a needle instead of being placed on the surface.
- Allergy patch test: With this test, a small amount of the allergen is placed on a patch that’s applied to the skin. The patch is usually worn for 48 hours and then removed.
- Blood tests: There are two types of blood tests that can be used to test for allergies. One is called a radioallergosorbent test (RAST), and the other is an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Both tests measure the level of IgE antibodies in your blood.
- Food challenge test: This test is mostly only carried out on children. It involves eating increasing amounts of the suspected allergen under medical supervision to see if it triggers an allergic reaction.
- Insect sting test: This test is used to see if you’re allergic to bee or wasp stings. A small amount of venom is injected into your skin, and the area is monitored for any reaction.
What’s Next After the Test?
Once the test is completed, your GP will go over the results with you and explain what they mean. If you have a positive result, they will discuss the best course of action to take. This may involve any of the following;
- Making lifestyle changes, such as avoiding the allergen or taking medication: If you have a mild allergy, you may be able to manage your symptoms by making some lifestyle changes. For example, if you’re allergic to dust mites, you may need to vacuum and clean your house more often. If you’re allergic to pollen, you may need to stay indoors when the pollen count is high.
- Taking medication: If lifestyle changes are not enough to control your symptoms, you may need to take medication. The type of medication will depend on your symptoms and how severe they are. For example, if you have hay fever, you may be prescribed antihistamines or corticosteroids. If you have a more severe allergy, such as anaphylaxis, you may need to carry an adrenaline injector (EpiPen®) with you at all times.
- Undergoing immunotherapy: In some cases, immunotherapy may be recommended. This is a treatment that can help to reduce your sensitivity to the allergen over time. It involves receiving regular injections of the allergen over a period of several years.
See an allergist for diagnosis and treatment if you think you have an allergy. Allergy testing can help identify the substances you are allergic to, which can be used to develop a treatment plan.
That said, it does help to not put off the appointments and get the testing done as soon as possible. Not only will this allow you to start treatment early, but it can also help you avoid potential complications, such as anaphylaxis.
Our staff is experienced in allergy testing and can help you determine the best course of action based on your individual needs. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. Call or WhatsApp: +65 9856 8391. You can also visit us at the;
Sinus & Allergy Specialist Centre – Ear, Head and Neck Surgery
#05-01, Parkway East Specialist Hospital
321 Joo Chiat Place,