When you have frequent allergy problems, it's important to be tested so you know what causes your symptoms. Sometimes, the cause is obvious, such as when your eyes water and you sneeze every time you're around a cat or dog. Other times, you may have no idea what causes your symptoms, or you could have several triggers and that makes them difficult to sort out. Here's how testing helps and how it's done.
Why Allergy Testing Is Helpful
One of the primary ways to deal with allergies is to reduce your exposure to your triggers; that's impossible to do if you don't know what your triggers are. If you're allergic to just a few things, you might be able to avoid them most of the time so you won't be dependent on allergy medication. Your allergens might only be found in specific places or at certain times of the year. When you know when you're likely to be exposed, you can be prepared by having medication ready or by wearing a mask or taking other measures. You'll be able to manage your allergies much better when you know what will set off your symptoms.
How Allergy Testing Is Done
A common way to test for allergies is the skin test. This can test for numerous possible allergens at the same time. A nurse makes multiple light scratches on your skin or injects tiny amounts of substances that might cause an allergic reaction. The test might be applied to your arm or your back. If you're allergic to a substance, your skin will have a reaction and turn red or swell. This test will identify things that you're allergic to and it can also indicate how severely you react. The results of a skin test are immediate, so you'll know what you're allergic to the same day. Your doctor might also run a blood test for your allergies. This involves sending a blood sample to the lab and the results from it will take several days to receive.
How Allergy Test Results Are Used
Your doctor will recommend ways to deal with your allergy symptoms based on the results of your test. Medications might be used during certain seasons of the year to control your symptoms. You may need to carry an epinephrine injection pen if you have an allergy to stinging insects or peanuts. Your doctor might recommend that you have allergy shots that gradually desensitize you to the substances that trigger your symptoms. You'll also want to take steps at home to reduce your exposure to the things such as mold, pet dander, and dust mites that aggravate your symptoms.
To learn more about testing and treatment, contact a company like Mid America Ear, Nose, & Throat Clinic PC.